Bistro Switches to LED Lamps and Maintains Warm Dining Atmosphere

Abigail’s American Bistro strives to create a neighborhood dining experience. Lighting helps set the mood for the restaurant.

Abigail’s American Bistro strives to create a neighborhood dining experience. Lighting helps set the mood for the restaurant.

Following his philosophy and mission, Michael Paulsen, executive chef and owner of Abigail’s American Bistro in Highland Park, Ill., strives to make his restaurant a neighborhood destination point with food served in a welcoming and comfortable dining atmosphere.

“The food, decor and size of our restaurant work together with our staff to create a neighborhood dining experience,” says Paulsen.

Under Paulsen’s leadership, Abigail’s follows the mantra born from the love of pure flavor and, as such, uses ingredients to offer an affordable regional menu. Paulsen and his team procure the products, including local ingredients, and prepare them with respect.

According to Paulsen, just as important as the food is the decor of the restaurant that makes everyone feel at home. The walls feature earth tones with splashes of color and organic finishes. Combined with the wooden bistro chairs, banquettes and joint tables, the restaurant has a social atmosphere.

“Every dish served is important to me, because there are no strangers in our restaurants,” says Paulsen. “We want our customers to enjoy their food in a dining atmosphere that keeps them coming back.”

To make sure patrons enjoy the atmosphere, Paulsen recognized that the appropriate lighting was essential to set the mood for the restaurant. In fact, the architect for the restaurant planned the dining space to have lighting play an integral role in the look and feel of the bistro. Abigail’s was using incandescent lighting that was wasting energy and needed replacing regularly, even though it was providing a warm environment.

With her broad base of food service and hospitality experience, Abigail’s restaurant manager, Cindy Jarvis, knew that the lighting played a role in the appearance of the bistro. That’s why she wanted to preserve the look and feel of incandescent lighting.

“Our incandescent lighting created an environment for our guests, which we did not want to change,” says Jarvis. “Yet, we are energy conscious. We knew that Abigail’s needed to improve its lighting system by converting the dining room of the restaurant to LEDs without changing our atmosphere.”

Abigail’s improves its lighting system by converting the dining room to LED lamps.

Abigail’s improves its lighting system by converting the dining room to LED lamps.

LED That Doesn’t Spoil the Atmosphere

Rather than purchasing new lighting fixtures, Jarvis determined they could switch to LEDs and maintain their atmosphere. The restaurant had existing small aperture recessed downlights, as well as functional highlight up lights that required replacement LED lamps with similar light output, lamp size and function. In addition, candle bulbs had to use the existing decorative wall sconces to provide both decorative and functional illumination to the space.

Abigail’s turned to EarthTronics in Muskegon, Mich., which offered Energy Star LED solutions to meet its criteria. Each of the products specified featured a multi-chipset LED with a cooling system that provides a 25,000-hour performance life that improves lighting performance and reduces the need for ongoing maintenance and the changing of light bulbs.

To provide a match for the BR20 incandescent in the recessed downlights, 7-watt BR20 EarthBulb LED floodlights were selected to replace the 50 watt incandescent bulbs. The BR20 EarthBulb offers 2700K soft white light with a high 82 color rendering index that maintains the atmosphere in keeping with the original design. In addition, the BR20 LEDs provide dimming down to 10 percent for lighting adjustment ease.

For the existing decorative wall sconces, Jarvis chose B11/BA11 candle LEDs. The 4.7-watt candle style EarthBulb LED bulbs provide 315 lumens and replaced 40-watt incandescent candle bulbs. The clear glass LED candle bulbs not only deliver soft white color and a similar dimming characteristic as the incandescent that they replace, but the B11/BA11 candle LEDs also fit the sconces and fixtures, maintaining the light patterns originally designed for the space.

In addition, 11-watt PAR30 Short Neck LEDs replaced the existing short neck 75-watt halogen PAR lamp. The PAR30 LEDs produce 3000K color of light with a 90+ color rendering index.

Appetizing Savings

As a result of converting the lighting source in the dinning space, the LEDs delivered more than an 80 percent energy savings and reduced lighting maintenance time and costs. Using a calculation suggests that annual energy savings (using a conservative $0.11/khw national rate and 60 hours per week use) for the restaurant is more than $1600. Its return on investment is eight months.

“We are thrilled by the energy savings and that we don’t have to keep changing out light bulbs,” says Jarvis, “Most important, our patrons continue to enjoy our food in our friendly dining atmosphere.”

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