For 36 years, the Sidewalk Café has earned an international reputation as one of the most popular restaurants on the Venice Boardwalk.

Its casual atmosphere, reasonably priced food and proximity to the boardwalk for watching a parade of colorful characters and performers have made it a must see location for tourists and residents from other areas of Los Angeles.

And in keeping with the contemporary and progressive vibe of Venice, the popular restaurant is now going green.

Representatives from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Suntrucity, a Venice-based solar company, joined City Councilman Bill Rosendahl and an assortment of invited guests at a press conference April 9th to announce the Sidewalk Café’s commitment to solar energy and the installation of one of the largest solar photovoltaic systems in Venice.

The councilman presented Jay Goodfader, the owner of the restaurant, with a certificate from the city at the press conference.

“(The Sidewalk Café) has taken a leadership role in moving forward with solar technology,” said Rosendahl, a former Venice resident who represents the coastal community.

Joyce Brunelle, the president of Suntricity and Arasha Saidi of the DWP joined Rosendahl in congratulating Goodfader.

Saidi presented the restaurant’s owner with a replica of a rebate check for $63,234 from the DWP.

“I’m very honored to be here today to give this check to the owner of the Sidewalk Café,” Saidi said.

Goodfader, who has run his family’s restaurant and bookstore since the passing of his father Bob in 2002, said going solar was a good investment financially as well as from a sustainability standpoint.

“Here at the Sidewalk Café, it’s always been very important for us to help in the community, and when the Brunelles and Suntricity came to us with this wonderful project, we thought it made perfect sense, because of the wonderful rebates and tax breaks,” Goodfader told the audience. “We also wanted to bring attention to this beautiful boardwalk and this wonderful community.”

Rosendahl said it was important to look at conserving and harnessing natural resources to use as new energy sources.

“Over 40 percent of our energy comes from coal,” the councilman noted. “We have to get away from coal so that we can create the kind of opportunities that can not only create jobs, but are the healthy ones for the future.”

The panels were installed in December and were recently turned on, but Goodfader said he has already seen a significant reduction in the restaurant’s electricity bill.

“It hasn’t been that sunny yet,” he pointed out. “We’re looking forward to when we’re really busy and it gets really hot and we get the most bang for our buck.”

Mar Vista resident Joseph Treves, who attended the press conference, said the Sidewalk Café’s decision to install solar panels could serve as an example for local businesses and homeowners as well.

“When you start to have these kind of events, more people become aware of them,” said Treves, a real estate broker who was one of the organizers of the Mar Vista Wise Water Expo last year. “That awareness has a way of permeating the fabric of the community, and you start to see change happen.”

The new 25-kilowatt system will convert direct sunlight into electric power, according to Suntricity representatives. Those who install solar panels in their business or homes will be eligible for rebates under the DWP’s solar installation program.