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The Local Buzz, lessons in efficiency

One of the many challenges facing businesses in a down economy is the high cost of electricity. The Local Buzz is a small café and local foods market located on Bradford’s Main Street. The small downtown restaurant boasts the best coffee and tea in town and is a frequent meeting place for moms with kids, local business people and their clients and numerous social groups.

The goal from the start was to be a place where customers could taste the difference when eating freshly prepared foods made from locally grown and produced foods. Vermont Coffee Company out of Middlebury roasts beans for The Local Buzz. Numerous tea varieties come from Vermont Tea and Trading. Fresh smoothies are made by hand with Vermont Cabot yogurt. Maple, honey and fresh bagels are all sourced within 30 miles of the cafe. The Buzz serves sausage and farmstead cheese from Robie Farm in Piermont. The bread is baked fresh in a home-bakery in Piermont, NH and the eggs and cheddar cheese are strictly Vermont.

The dining room also has local roots. From the café tables made locally at Copeland Furniture, to the chairs that were donated by supportive community members, to the maple coffee table created by Keith Michelson Designs and the custom-built counter by Duke Bassett, The Local Buzz kept their eyes close to home.

The Buzz serves a full menu for breakfast and lunch out of a small back-room kitchen. “We started on a shoestring,” explains Co-Owner Terry Duchesney, “so we didn’t choose our appliances with electrical efficiency in mind.” Heading into their first summer of operation the restaurant found that their electric bills were high and the space was difficult to keep cool.

“We realized that the freezer where we displayed local meats for sale in the market was actually heating our building,” Duchesney recalls. So they pulled the market meats into a smaller freezer and removed the late-model merchandising freezer. “We noticed immediately that the air conditioner was running less and the café was more comfortable.” And while the small downtown business has not been able to carry a large inventory of local meats and ice cream, they have appreciated the change in the electric bills.

After this success, the café set about to institute efficiency practices in all its operations. All lighting was replaced with compact fluorescent bulbs. The staff began to collect coffee grounds to be composted. Customers and staff now strive to recycle all paper waste & plastic containers.

The Buzz also connects with local farmers to send its food waste to be used for pig food, even though “Composting, recycling and collecting food waste for pig feed meant adding a few steps into our daily closing routines,” explained Co-Owner Sarah Copeland Hanzas.

Efficiency is a work in progress according to staff at The Buzz. It is clear that the time spent saving energy and resources offers rewards in the long run. “Somebody once told me, ‘the cheapest kilowatt of electricity is the one you never had to buy’,” Copeland Hanzas says. “And that principal of conservation has driven all our efficiency practices.”

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