Chicago's Sopraffina Marketcaffe to Unveil Solar-Electric Catering Vehicle

Chicago's Sopraffina Marketcaffe today is celebrating Earth Day with the unveiling of a new, first-of-its-kind, 100 percent solar-electric powered catering vehicle. La Grange Park electric car dealer Jessup's Automotive helped bring the vehicle to Chicago as part of a dealer network being formed by ZAP.

The modified ZAP Xebra truck being unveiled on Earth Day at Sopraffina's 222 West Adams location runs on electric power throughout the day and can be charged by solar panels located on the roof. At night, the vehicle recharges at a standard outlet. Owner Dan Rosenthal had the car modified for catering in downtown Chicago.

"The economic impact on companies is marginal and the environmental impact is huge," said Dan Rosenthal, president of The Rosenthal Group, which owns five Sopraffina Marketcaffes as well as Trattoria #10 and Poag Mahone's. "Electric vans should become the vehicle of choice for city-based deliveries. Every minute our van is on the street it is telling our potential clients that we are making a serious effort to help the environment. We're delighted to be the first in Chicago to have this type of vehicle."

The delivery vehicle is part of several initiatives The Rosenthal Group is taking to make Sopraffina one of the greenest restaurants in the city: Sopraffina Marketcaffe is a founding member organization of the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op (http://www.buygreenchicago.org). Started in October 2007, the Co-op has grown to include nearly 100 restaurants.

The Xebra truck hits a top speed of 40 MPH and is virtually silent during operation. It was modified with special compartments to keep insulated catering containers secure so food remains at the correct temperature during delivery. The vehicle does not require gasoline, diesel fuel, oil or any of the regular maintenance of conventional cars. The vehicle costs about three cents per mile to operate.

"With high gas prices the timing is right for electric cars, but when you are talking about Earth Day I think it all comes down to the doing the right thing," said Mike Jessup. "This truly is a unique vehicle created by Sopraffina and the guys at Fischer Crane. I look forward to working with them in the future to get more of these out on the road."

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