SCHILLER PARK, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than a year after its landmark wind turbine started spinning, Chicago’s favorite eco-friendly eatery, The Great Escape Restaurant, celebrates Earth Day 2011 as the only restaurant in the United States to run almost entirely on wind power.
“Our customers tell us that dining at The Great Escape goes beyond the great food and down-to-earth atmosphere...it makes them feel good about where they eat,” said owner-operator Brian Great. “They love that we leave an almost zero carbon footprint.”
In 2006, 14 years after opening its doors, Great decided to take the radical step of making his already-successful business not only eco-friendly, but self-sustaining as well, and began plans on a giant wind turbine to power the restaurant.
The 112-foot turbine, nicknamed Big Windy, was christened on November 6, 2009, becoming the first large-scale wind turbine to operate so close to a major urban center—and making The Great Escape the first restaurant in the United States to run almost entirely on wind power.
The 108kw Micon wind turbine boasts a wingspan of 62 feet, rotates 360-degrees, and can withstand winds of up to 160 mph, safely secured by a 60-ton concrete foundation.
Despite a hefty price tag of approximately $375,000, Big Windy is projected to pay for itself within ten years.
In addition to the wind turbine, Great has implemented other green initiatives throughout the restaurant, including a heat-capture system that recycles kitchen exhaust to heat water, all energy-efficient light bulbs, high-efficiency hand driers, reserved parking spaces for hybrid cars, and more.
Through his efforts, Great has become a sort of environmental business guru, with business owners from around the country calling him for advice and suggestions. He is also a favored speaker at local schools and universities, and has been featured numerous times by the local media.
“It’s been amazing,” said Great. “I’m so encouraged by all the attention Big Windy has garnered. It inspires me to do more, and to educate as many people as I can.”
The Great Escape Restaurant
Since opening its doors in 1992, The Great Escape Restaurant has been famous for the barbecue ribs, broasted chicken and fresh seafood—that have made it a Chicago favorite. Today, the restaurant is just as famous as the home of Big Windy, the giant wind turbine that spins in its parking lot. Following Big Windy’s dedication in late 2009, The Great Escape became the first restaurant in the United States to run almost entirely on wind power. The Great Escape Restaurant is located at 9540 Irving Park Road in Schiller Park, Illinois—10 miles west of downtown Chicago and one mile east of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. For more information about Big Windy or The Great Escape Restaurant, contact Brian Great at 847/671-7171 or visit www.greatescaperestaurant.com or www.facebook.com/greatescaperestaurant.