Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grease Interceptors 101

Today I attended a workshop on Grease Interceptors organized by the business advocacy group, the Central City Association. We were invited by our very nice landlord who is, presumably, a member of the CCA. Price tag for membership starts at $1,500, big bucks for us small potatoes. There were developers, architects, expeditors, and restaurateurs in attendance. Well, mostly people of the first three categories. Most developers decide in advance whether they will court restaurateurs to lease their retail spaces and do so by obtaining big ticket items like grease interceptors or Conditional Use Permits in advance. Our space had been designated a grocery store by the developers (though the current owner is amenable to a restaurant) so there I was today, learning about grease interceptors.

A grease interceptor basically filters water involved in cooking or cleaning (though not sewage or bar water, mind you) to separate and collect oils that would block sewer lines or harm the environment if poured down the drain. The reserved oil then gets pumped out and disposed of properly. Since the trucks that remove the oil need regular access to the interceptor, it has to be installed in an accessible spot, i.e. a parking lot or private alley. The reason why the interceptor is of such interest to developers is because of the cost - the tank and electrical components are only $10k-$15k, but the installation involves demolition and depending on the configuration of the existing guts of the building, can run up to $75k. Presumably, a developer can save money by installing a larger interceptor for multiple restaurants on a property (think strip mall or food court).

I worked once for a restaurant that was able to side-step the interceptor requirement because it was in business before the regulations came into effect in 2005. The restaurant has a drum outside the delivery entrance that the staff fills manually with cooking oils from the restaurant. The drum is stinky and leaks occasionally onto the delivery driveway. Aside from disliking this past experience, I have few thoughts about this whole interceptor business since our landlord agreed to take care of it as part of our TI. Though, I do hope it's a smooth process to get the plans approved. From what I understand, a restaurant build-out can take as little as three months, but permitting can take a year or two. Since we signed up for the Restaurant & Hospitality Express Permitting Program (thanks, Raul!), we've been quoted a shorter 4-6 month time-line. This 6 month time-line is in our projections, which unfortunately for us, have little wiggle room. Eh, so it is. Go grease interceptor!

1 comment:

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