Walk into any joint that employs a short order cook and you’ll likely see the same flat top and deep fryer you might have seen when you were a kid, but foodservice equipment has evolved significantly over the last twenty years. Combi ovens, high efficiency fryers, and ventless dishwashers are just a few products that are helping to increase efficiency, maintain consistency and reduce food and labor costs in kitchens everywhere. But what about in your kitchen? As you think about your current or future operation, several factors like menu, upfront cost, lifetime cost (factoring repairs and utilities) and physical space will help determine your equipment needs.
We always recommend high efficiency fryers with built-in filtration for a few reasons. First, and arguably most important, the food quality is superior because you’re cooking with clean, well-tempered oil for each batch. Second, the lifetime cost is significantly lower. Sure, it may cost $3,000 more than your basic fryer, but you’ll receive an immediate rebate from your energy company and have a payback period of less than a year (in most cases) based on utility costs and oil savings. Lastly, you’re doing your part for the environment by reducing oil and energy waste and who doesn’t love that!
Combi ovens, which combine steam and convection oven heating technology, are in almost every commercial kitchen these days, from school cafeterias to high-end French restaurants. And there’s good reason: they have programmable options that’ll allow you to produce 100 grilled cheeses with golden bread and melty cheese in a matter of minutes or a juicy prime rib with a perfectly red center with no sacrifice in quality or food loss. A properly utilized combi oven will replace several pieces of equipment and just like high efficiency fryers, some of the better ones are a friend to the environment by reducing water waste and energy consumption.
Moving away from the flames and grease splatters of the line, the dish area is full of opportunities to decrease water consumption, reduce energy and save money in the process. Ventless, door type dishwashers are a perfect example. They save you money right off the bat by eliminating the need for a condensate hood. Not that the hoods themselves are that expensive but the ductwork can be. Without a hood, you’ll have more freedom with your kitchen design and flexibility around where to place your dish area. Hobart, one of the leaders in commercial dishwashers, estimates a savings of $5,068 in the first year alone and then $1,568 in each subsequent year with their Advansys AM Ventless Door Type Dishwasher. Not only is this product Energy Star rated, but it also features Energy Recovery, which captures water vapor that would otherwise escape and uses it to heat the water for the final rinse cycle.
While chefs and foodservice operators have become increasingly savvy about equipment, working with an Account Executive at a dealer will help you select the right piece. We regularly attend manufacturer trainings at their facilities and meet with factory representatives to keep abreast of the latest products. We arrange equipment demos for operators to use and test products to ensure that you purchase exactly what you need. With the help of an experienced equipment specialist, you’ll have the confidence to make a proper investment from both a cost and use perspective.
About Matt & Andy Starr
Matt and Andy Starr are cousins and represent the fourth generation of family ownership at Boston Showcase Company, which helps restaurants with kitchen and bar design, restaurant equipment, tabletop and supplies. Both of them remember walking through the kitchen of Anthony’s Pier 4 with their grandfather at a young age while he pointed out pieces of equipment and what they’re used for. To this day, they still ask for peak into a kitchen that they haven’t been into and discuss the beer serving equipment more heavily than the beer itself. Recently, Boston Showcase Company has completed equipment projects at Davio’s in Braintree, anoush’ella in Boston, Sheraton Commander in Cambridge and Brighton Bodega in Brighton.