Commercial refrigeration: Sizzling insight on the coolest part of your food service business

(BPT) – There are a number of ingredients that go into creating a successful food service business, but arguably one of the most important is the refrigeration system. Not all refrigerators and coolers are created equal, and what works for one business may not be best for the next.

Here are some of the most popular cooler options and a few types of businesses that use them most often:

Walk-in cooler
When you have a large amount of food that needs to be stored at safe temperatures, consider a walk-in cooler. It is wise to analyze your needs before jumping into a walk-in purchase, particularly when it comes to sizing your cooler or freezer. It is important to determine how many items brought into stock will be stored in the walk-in, any anticipated future growth, and current available space in your restaurant to narrow your options. When purchasing a walk-in, it is important to get the right equipment for the right operation. Call the experts at at 404-752-6715 for additional insight and advice.

What types of businesses use walk-in coolers? Large restaurants typically keep walk-ins in the back of the house to store food before it is prepared and moved to the line. Convenience stores often require a walk-in cooler as well for the purposes of drink and food storage, though many convenience stores opt for walk-in merchandising coolers with glass doors. Keep in mind, walk-in coolers come in one or two-cube configurations, and are available as single temperature units as well as in refrigeration/freezer combo units. Walk-in coolers can be placed indoors or out, depending on your location and available space.

Reach-in coolers
If your food service business calls for refrigeration but doesn’t require a larger sized walk-in cooler, a reach-in unit is ideal. These units, available in single temperature or dual temperature cooler/freezer combos, are great space savers for back-of-the-house operations. Mid-size restaurants and cafes typically use reach-in coolers, while larger businesses use them in combination with a walk-in unit and transfer food from each as necessary.

When shopping for solid door reach-in coolers, you must first consider the available space. Measure to ensure the desired unit will fit in your kitchen as well as through the entranceway. Reach-ins feature either top or bottom-mounted refrigeration; bottom-mounted units have a lower condenser, which means it’s away from heat and grease and is easier to repair, while top-mounted units typically have more storage space. Since the condenser exhaust in a top-mounted reach-in stays above the air it is cooling, they are also more energy efficient.

Refrigerated prep tables
Every restaurant needs an efficient line kitchen, and one piece of restaurant equipment that is indispensable in allowing chefs do their job efficiently is a refrigerated prep table. Used both as a food prep surface and a way to refrigerate uncooked foods, these prep tables give business owners a piece of refrigeration on the line intended to multitask.

The sandwich/salad prep cooler is the most common style of refrigerated prep tables. This type of unit features an under-counter reach-in with refrigeration and hotel pans. Typically there is a cutting board and work area on top. If your restaurant specializes in pizza, you might consider a pizza prep table with modified refrigeration for toppings and a larger countertop for cutting ingredients and assembling pizzas.

Display coolers
For bars, grocery stores and convenience stores, display coolers are a necessity. These units showcase products in a way that can boost sales, while still keeping these products at proper temperatures. Glass door merchandising coolers and freezers are being utilized in a number of business types – for example, with the recent spike in craft beer interest, these coolers display a bar’s bottled varieties and can help attract higher sales.

Open display cooler options keep food and drink cool, but do not have a door feature. These units make it easy for customers to reach in and grab items before purchase. These are most common at grocery stores, convenience stores, and coffee shops and are perfect for holding sandwiches, drinks, produce and more.

No matter what refrigeration or freezer unit you decide is best for your business, be mindful of food safety. For safety purposes, the experts at recommend that all refrigerators be kept below 40 F, and freezer units kept at zero or below to keep foods out of danger zones.

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