Powered by the sun (and fun)

New solar panels illuminate Appleton’s oldest tavern

Posted on Jul 29, 2019 :: Small Business Spotlight
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Since purchasing Fox River House last summer, co-owners Tim Ceman and Steve Olson wondered how they could turn the bar into their own. Both are passionate about environmentalism and wanted customers to know the cause is important to them, so the duo decided to install solar panels.

“Right away, we looked into whether it was even viable to put solar panels on Fox River House. It worked out perfectly that we have great southern exposure, which is great for solar panels,” Ceman says. “The solar panels will have an eight- to 12-year payback, but the important thing for us is that we want to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Installation was completed in March and Fox River House became the first bar in Appleton to have solar panels. On sunny days, the panels generate a lot of electricity for Appleton’s oldest tavern. They power all its lighting and most of the air conditioning and refrigeration to keep customers and craft beers cool during the summer months when the bar uses more electricity.

In addition to the new solar panels, special events strengthen the tavern’s local presence. Fox River House offers live music every Friday night and Saturday afternoon, serves as a Mile of Music venue, holds a Tuesday night trivia contest, and hosts various fundraisers. All that activity proves that Fox River House is still an iconic, exciting venue in Appleton at 149 years old.

“We want to show that Fox River House is relevant,” Olson says. “We believe in supporting the arts because that’s a part of the culture of the community … and at the end of the day, a really good tavern or bar is a part of the community.”

As for being the first bar in Appleton to install solar panels, the pair hopes they’re not the last and always look to talk them up. 

“We’re excited when there are opportunities to spread the word about the benefits of solar panels,” Ceman says.