An integral part of any restaurant is its refrigeration systems. Restaurant refrigeration ranges from small to very large and everything between. Careful selection of the right type of refrigeration for your restaurant will ensure that your establishment runs well, and will result in a better experience for staff and guests.
Choosing the Right Refrigeration
Determine what types of refrigerators and freezers you need for your restaurant is the essential first step to success. The concept of your restaurant, its size and layout should be the biggest factors in what you buy for restaurant refrigeration. A large walk-in refrigerator unit will not work if you have limited space. Alternatively, you will need ample freezer space if your menu is based on a lot of frozen foods. Keep these things in mind when choosing.
Something many don’t take into consideration is delivery. If your food distributors' delivery schedule is daily you won’t need as much in the way of refrigeration, opposed to restaurants that only get a delivery once or twice a week.
Types of Restaurant Refrigeration
Reach-ins are usually found in the kitchen and bar areas of a restaurant. They can be located in the wait station as well. A reach-in cooler is usually low to the ground. These coolers work best when not close to the heat from the kitchen cooking line. They'll help keep the food stored inside at safe holding temperatures. As with all freezers and coolers, a remote temperature monitoring system is essential to ensure food is maintained at safe temperatures.
Often referred to in restaurants as “fish drawers”, refrigeration drawers are under counters, and work great for restaurants that are limited on space. Refrigeration drawers are designed to be installed directly into a kitchen cooking line and can hold seafood, poultry, or meat for the kitchen.
Walk-in coolers can be a wide range of sizes, from just big enough to step in to as big as a large room. Walk-ins are great for holding larger amounts of food that will be broken down and distributed among the smaller coolers in the restaurant for use. Food-grade shelves, wall covering, and flooring must be used in walk-ins.
Like coolers, restaurant freezers can be either reach-ins or walk-ins. A restaurant freezer is not a place to store or make ice, and it is very important to purchase an ice machine specifically for that job. Freezers are meant to keep food that is supposed to be stored at frozen temperatures frozen.
Restaurant Bar Refrigeration
Bar coolers are known as either “low boys” when they're low to the ground or “high boys” when they stand to waist level. Usually alcohol and ingredients used for drinks at the bar are stored in bar coolers. A separate walk-in refrigerator might be necessary for beer kegs. Kegs can also be kept in your main kitchen walk-in if space permits.
Making Your Choice
There are many types and choices of restaurant refrigeration available. It's important to select the right kind of cooler or freezer to best fit your restaurant. There's no harm in purchasing used commercial refrigeration units as long as it’s tested for quality. Doing so will save you a great deal of start-up capital. Often times there is the option to lease commercial refrigeration equipment also. Explore all of your options before making final decisions.