For decades, natural gas has been the preferred cooking fuel in American restaurants, for performance, affordability and the tastiest food – but if environmental activists get their way, the foodservice industry could be forced to electrify.
Natural gas bans have already been implemented in certain cities and states, making it difficult for restaurant owners and chefs in these areas to operate their businesses. If this trend continues, restaurants across the country will feel the negative impact. In a recent National Restaurant Association survey, an incredible 94% of restaurateurs reported that natural gas bans would cause immediate and lasting damage to the industry. 90% stated that the loss of natural gas would impact the quality of the food they serve, and 66% were particularly worried about the impact on small neighborhood eateries.
Prohibiting the use of natural gas equipment puts local restaurants in peril. Here’s how.
Natural gas saves restaurants money
The affordability of natural gas helps restaurants and foodservice operations stay in business. In an industry with tight margins and a high-failure rate, every financial advantage helps. Taking natural gas away could lead to restaurants closing down or being forced to raise prices on the communities they serve.
The low price of the fuel itself is only the beginning:
- Gas ranges typically cost 10-30% less to operate over time and tend to outlast comparable electric appliances
- The cost to retrofit a building to handle the electrical needs of a restaurant is prohibitively expensive
- Needing to replace fully-functional natural gas equipment prematurely puts small operations under great financial strain
- Natural gas outdoor heating equipment increases revenue by expanding seating areas and allowing operation during cold weather
- A ban on natural gas would force many restaurants to retrain staff to learn to cook with new equipment
Consumers are equally worried about the economic impact of natural gas bans on local restaurants, with 65% saying they are concerned that rising costs will be passed on to restaurant patrons in the form of higher prices.
Natural gas is key to food quality, variety and inclusivity
Cooking on a gas stovetop provides culinary performance advantages, including precise temperature control, the ability to heat food quickly on an open flame, and ultra-high cooking temperatures.
In some cases, a ban on natural gas would force restaurants to change their menu offerings or potentially reduce the authenticity of the food they serve. For example, East Asian, South Asian and Latin American cuisines rely heavily on the option to cook over an open flame.
Natural gas provides resilient, reliable energy
Delivered through highly resilient underground pipelines, natural gas provides a level of reliability that is simply unmatched. Whereas most all-electric restaurants would be unable to serve their customers at least once per year due to a power outage, the American Gas Association estimates that only one out of every 800 natural gas customers experience an unplanned outage in any given year.
This level of energy reliability makes it possible to resume operations quickly following extreme weather events or during harsh winter storms, which is both good for business and for the communities they feed during challenging times.
And power outages don’t only impact a foodservice business’s ability to stay open and operate. Losing power is also a considerable health and safety issue, with many restaurants relying on natural gas-powered generators to keep perishable food at the appropriate temperature until power is restored.
Restaurants need natural gas to thrive
While the environmental benefits of implementing natural gas bans are questionable, the impact such a restriction would have on the restaurant industry is not.
Natural gas bans hurt restaurants and the communities they serve, by raising the cost of operation, increasing the price of meals for patrons, affecting the taste and authenticity of food and preventing businesses from operating during electrical outages.