Versatile propane kitchen boosts family pizzeria
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In the secluded, rural area outside of Olivebridge, New York, Tetta’s has long served as a community hub.
The fourth-generation convenience store and gas station is the only spot within a 20-minute drive to fill your gas tank or pick up a loaf of bread. But under the leadership of Primo Stropoli, the great-grandson of the original owners, the store was renovated and reopened in 2020 as a true community destination, with a deli, liquor sales, and a pizzeria.
“We’re Italian, so it’s just kind of ingrained in us to make good foods, healthy foods,” Stropoli says. As the community fills up with more “Tesla Toms” — New York City weekenders falling in love with the area and moving permanently — Stropoli’s catching the market at the perfect time. “People are cooking less at home. And so they want the premade meals. Dining out is becoming bigger and bigger.”
For a business like Tetta’s that is off the beaten path, having gas available for cooking appliances that expand the menu doesn’t have to be a challenge. The business relies on propane in the kitchen — as well as for hot water, some heating, and standby power — to continue serving the community reliably and efficiently. Check out the latest videos in our Tech & Trends series below to see how propane cooking and generators help Stropoli create a business that’s the pride of his family.
Expanding the menu with propane cooking
To make his hospitality dream a reality, Stropoli brought in a full-time chef who has helped to expand the menu to restaurant quality. Being able to execute on that menu, however, meant bringing in the propane cooking equipment that a professional chef expects.
“If I asked our head chef, Anthony, to offer this menu with only electric equipment, he would probably just shake his head,” Stropoli says. “He grew up in a pizzeria. He knows what you need to get the job done right. Electric just doesn’t produce enough of the energy, the heat, to cook the pizza well.”
Tetta’s already had an idle propane pizza oven that Stropoli’s father had purchased. Stropoli is bringing in a six-burner range with a grill top and a propane-fueled deep fryer that can whip out new menu items such as chicken wings and fried eggplant balls used in a planned specialty sandwich called “the Wiffle Ball.” “I don’t think it would be practical, financially or efficiency-wise, to run anything but an LP deep fryer,” Stropoli says. “You don’t want a thousand-dollar electric bill. And LP is efficient. It works well. It’s consistent.”
In fact, energy efficiency was one of Stropoli’s primary objectives when he renovated Tetta’s, switching out the lighting for LED replacements and installing two Bosch Therm Series propane tankless water heaters, which provide domestic hot water both for the restaurant and Stropoli’s apartment upstairs. “My grandparents had oil, so we changed because propane is cleaner; it’s more efficient,” Stropoli says. “And I’m happy we did. We’re able to power all this equipment, and it’s relatively cheap, I think a lot cheaper than their oil bill was.”
Remaining operational during power outages
Another upgrade Stropoli planned during the renovation was a commercial standby generator that would keep the business operational during the area’s frequent power outages. So Stropoli called Jeremy Mirto, owner of Reliable Energy Solutions. Check out the video below to see the solution Mirto recommended and why more businesses are choosing to protect themselves with standby power.
“In a power outage, if this store did not have standby power, they would basically have to close,” Mirto says. “They wouldn’t be able to service their customers. They wouldn’t be able to pump any gasoline, and they wouldn’t be able to keep their perishables cold.” Stropoli estimates the losses from perishable products alone could amount to thousands of dollars.
Mirto specified a Generac Protector 48 kW propane standby generator large enough to handle all of the gas pumps, refrigerators, and compressors that would need to remain on during an outage. The unit stands apart by running at a quiet 1,800 RPM so it won’t disturb the business, Mirto says. And by utilizing propane, Tetta’s won’t have to worry about cycling through diesel fuel, which must be regularly replaced.
“At 150 kW and under, almost 100 percent of the time, we’re leaning towards the propane-powered generator,” Mirto says. “The benefits are astronomical, and the ease of installation is there as well.” Unlike a unit with a self-contained diesel tank, propane generators can use a business’s larger propane storage tank, providing 1,000 or even 5,000 gallons of fuel supply, depending on the tank size.
“One of the things we want commercial businesses to know is that the infrastructure is there to install propane-powered generators,” Mirto says. “A lot of commercial businesses already have the propane tanks on site, whether it be for their heat or their commercial cooking or hot water. So adding the generator may be as simple as just adding a little bit of storage to that preexisting system.”
In such a remote area, the community is heavily reliant on Tetta’s during a storm, as evidenced by the snow plows coming by to refuel. That makes standby power particularly critical to the business’s mission.
“My grandfather was like that; he would stay open in the snowstorms for people,” Stropoli says. “And I think that’s something that we just want to continue as we move forward. I think that sets us apart — our mentality, what we’re willing to do, but also that fact that we’re able to do it with a generator running on propane.”