The walls of J.W. Snacks are normally dazzled with neon beer signs and televisions, illuminating the gulf coast beach décor of fishing nets and surfboards.
But last Friday, the walls were dark and the TV screens blank.
The overhead lights were off, and the radio music was replaced by the acoustic sounds of Craig resident Anthony Tremaine.
In the kitchen, the ovens were hot, but in the restaurant, several customers ate by the natural lights streaming through the windows.
J.W. Snacks owner Danny Griffith had turned the lights out on purpose.
For one hour, restaurants across Colorado joined together as a part of Lights out Lunch, an energy conservation awareness effort.
The statewide awareness program was sponsored by Xcel Energy, the Governor’s Energy Office and the city and county of Denver.
Although Griffith said one hour of darkness might not make a dent in something as large-scale as global warming, he hopes the event will make people more aware of saving energy costs.
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Griffith said. “In the restaurant business, utility bills are astronomical. And we have a unique situation. We have over 12 windows. Realistically, we could have the lights out every day at lunch.”
He said the absence of television and radio also had a few side effects.
“It stimulates conversing and interaction,” he said.
Allan Reishus and Phil Freedman walked into J.W. Snacks for lunch Friday and already had begun their meal before they noticed the lights were off.
“I was just anxious to sit down and start talking,” Freedman said. “I didn’t think much of it.”
Reishus said he didn’t like the idea of having televisions in any restaurant, so he was glad that J.W. Snacks turned theirs off for an hour.
“I find TVs annoying in restaurants,” he said. “I think this is a good idea. It’s hard to make a difference in global warming, but if it raises awareness for just a few people, it’s worth it.”
Reishus said he incorporates environmental sustainability into many aspects of his life, and knows that raising awareness about energy conservation is a good place to start.
Griffith said supporting the awareness of energy conservation is important and not the same thing as switching energy sources or any other dramatic change.
“There is a large group of people who are out every day digging coal out of the side of a mountain,” he said. “Those are all my customers. By no means am I saying, ‘Quit burning coal.’ It’s just conservation awareness, that’s all.”
He said the event helps him out with his utility bills and, hopefully, makes people think twice before they leave their lights on.
Maybe it even encourages some to switch to energy-saving light bulbs, he said.
“It’s saving me a little money, and trying to look at saving a little energy,” he said. “One person can’t have much of an impact, but statewide and on the national level, this could be huge. It doesn’t hurt not to waste.”