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Learn how to buy the right restaurant equipment and supplies right here.

Electrolux-Dito: Mix, Cut, Slice, & Cook

If your restaurant is short on food prep equipment, Electrolux-Dito can definitely help.  From the popular Bermixer stick mixer series to vegetable cutters, slicers, and big floor mixers, there’s a Dito for whatever food prep task you have in your kitchen.

Electrolux Dito: Mix, Cut, Slice, & Cook

Use Dito Bermixers to power mix whatever you’re making: sauces, soups, etc.  For bigger jobs, Dito’s line of planetary mixers might be more your speed:

Electrolux Dito: Mix, Cut, Slice, & Cook

And when you need to prep vegetables fast, nothing beats Dito’s Mighty Green veggie cutter and other models:

Electrolux Dito: Mix, Cut, Slice, & Cook

When you’re ready to cook, Dito has some killer pannini grills that can really spice up your lunch menu:

Electrolux Dito: Mix, Cut, Slice, & Cook

And don’t forget about the Libero line of cutting edge, top quality cooking appliances, ideal for catering and concessions:

Electrolux Dito: Mix, Cut, Slice, & Cook

From induction woks to electric griddles to slicers, mixers, and cutters, depend on Dito for a job well done in your kitchen.

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The Quick Guide to Commercial Refrigeration Problems

Commercial refrigeration is key to the success of any restaurant and keeping your units properly running can save you both time and money. Whether your commercial refrigerator won’t stop running when you want it to or simply won’t run at all, this quick guide will help you to troubleshoot all of your refrigeration problems and find the right solution.

If your commercial refrigerator won’t run at all or won’t stop running, you’re probably looking at a defective thermostat.  You can test this easily. First, unplug the unit and open the evaporator housing. Locate the wires attached to the thermostat, remove and connect together with electrical tape. If the unit runs properly when turned back on, simply replace the thermostat.

Encountering difficulty with rising temperatures? The first step towards a solution is identifying what type of refrigeration thermostat your refrigeration unit uses.  If you’re dealing with either an air-sensing thermostat or evaporator-sensing thermostat, you can replace the part yourself. But be aware that the two are not interchangeable, so be sure to correctly identify which you’re working with first. If your commercial refrigerator uses a low pressure control, you’re going to have to call a service technician to get the part repaired.

The Quick Guide to Commercial Refrigeration Problems

Problems with a broken or malfunctioning fan motor need to be dealt with immediately, because without proper refrigeration your food is at risk of going bad quickly.  First off, you need to identify whether your unit uses a condenser fan motor or evaporator fan motor. A condenser fan motor will be found outside the refrigeration interior while an evaporator fan motor is found within the interior. Replace the motor fan by identifying the specific model of motor and blade (both are usually stamped into the back of the product and are easily accessible) and ordering a new one. Installation is usually brand-specific and can be found in your unit’s accompanying guidebook.

If the door to your commercial refrigeration unit is improperly closing, you could potentially be throwing away energy and money. The quick fix to this problem is simple: you need to update your gaskets. This do-it-yourself fix merely requires you to ascertain the dimension, brand and style of the existing gasket and order a new one. Replacing old gaskets is as easy as popping them off and snapping the new ones on.

The Quick Guide to Commercial Refrigeration ProblemsIf you need to replace faulty hinges or latches in your commercial refrigerator, start with simple identification. With both hinges and latches, you must determine whether you’re working with flush or offset parts, which is determined simply by running your hand over the part, looking to see if it is smooth, or flush, or not. If you’re working with offset hinges and the offset size is not available on the back of the part, you’ll need to measure the distance from the wall surface to the door surface to find the correct size. In terms of latches, there are two different types: magnetic  and those with a strike-and-latch lock. These latches will have an easy to identify number on them. With both latches and hinges, the easiest method is always to look for their ID number to order the right part the first time around.

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Portion Control: Are You Losing Money To Food Waste?

Portion Control: Are You Losing Money To Food Waste?Imagine for a second that you run Coca-Cola instead of your restaurant.  You sell millions of cans of soda every day, and you’re making a decent profit.  Now imagine that as the founder and owner of Coke, you never bothered to standardize the size of each can, so some cans are 12 ounces, others are 13, and some are even as large as 16 ounces, but you charge the same price for all of them.

Think you’d be losing a little money every time you sold a 16 ounce can of Coke?

There are more similarities between your restaurant and Coca-Cola than you might think.  You both serve a consumable product.  You both charge a flat rate for a portion of that product although you make a lot more of that product than you serve each customer.

But unlike a lot of restaurants, I guarantee you Coca-Cola pours the same exact amount of Coke product into every single can.  Their price is then figured based upon making a certain amount of profit margin assuming that exact amount is in every single can.  As you can imagine, if their machines were off by a fraction of an ounce, they could lose millions of dollars.

Controlling the portion sizes you serve your customers is an easily overlooked but extremely important way to cut costs and preserve your restaurant’s margin.  In the high-pressure atmosphere of a commercial kitchen during the dinner rush, you need simple but highly effective methods for keeping portions exactly the same.Portion Control: Are You Losing Money To Food Waste?

The first place to address portions is with proteins. A good portion scale can weigh out protein portions quickly and simply, giving you an extra measure of control over what is probably the most expensive item on any entrée plate.  Check out this blog post for more info on scales.

Secondly, your starches, veggies, soups, etc. need to be portioned out as exactly as possible.  Even a half ounce over the serving size called for in each entrée can translate into thousands of dollars in lost revenue over the course of year.  The easiest way to control these portion sizes is with kitchen utensils that measure portions accurately.  Vollrath’s line of ladles, dishers, and Spoodles are all designed to allow the quick and effective measurement of portion sizes.Portion Control: Are You Losing Money To Food Waste?

Portion control is important because it is the basis for calculating your restaurant’s profitability.  Especially in an era of deep discounting and razor thin margins, being able to control portions is an incredibly important element when you decide how to price your menu.  That’s because you’re making assumptions about how much each entrée served will cost you.  Those assumptions go out the window if the actual quantity served is incorrect.

Effective portion control allows you to dial up an aggressive price at a decent margin that beats the competition but keeps you profitable.  Any restaurant manager knows what a tightrope those margins can be.  Without portion controls, you’re far more likely to fall off than to make it to the other side.

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Restaurant Dishwasher: A Complete Buying Guide

Restaurant Dishwasher: A Complete Buying Guide

Undercounter dishwasher

Deciding on the right dishwasher for your restaurant or commercial kitchen depends on a few important factors, and it’s vital to get the right machine for the job.There are multiple types of dish machines depending on what you plan to wash and how much of it you plan to wash in a given day.

The most common restaurant dishwasher types are:

Undercounter – these dish machines are similar to residential models and can handle up to 35 racks per hour.  They usually use a built-in heating element to flash heat dishes and ware to 180 degrees Fahrenheit for sanitization.

Door Type – these washers are larger than undercounter models and can handle up to 150 racks per hour.  Door type washers are most commonly used in most restaurants.

They have a large door that opens and allows racks to be easily moved in and out.  Some models even have a conveyor that allows the constant processing of dish racks.

Restaurant Dishwasher: A Complete Buying Guide

Booster Heater

Booster Heaters – these stand-alone units pre-heat water to the NSF required 180 degrees Fahrenheit for proper sanitization.  They operate independently of the dish machine and insure that enough hot water is available for washing.

Booster heaters are typically used on large Conveyor or Flight dishwashers that process large volumes of dishes per hour.  Most undercounter and door type units have a built-in booster heater.

Check before you buy any dishwasher to see if you’ll need a booster heater or not.

Conveyor and Flight – these washers are for high volume applications like cafeterias or institutions and can process over 400 racks per hour.

High Temp vs. Low Temp

High temperature dishwashers:

  • Use heat to sanitize dishes and glassware
  • Must achieve 180 degrees Fahrenheit to meet NSF regulations
  • Use slightly more energy than a low temp dishwasher
  • Do not require the regular purchase of chemicals
  • Do not damage flatware and plastics
  • Is the most commonly used commercial dishwasher

Low temperature dishwashers:

  • Use a chemical bath to sanitize dishes and glassware
  • Are not as effective at removing grease
  • Are slightly more efficient than high temp models
  • Can damage flatware and plastics
  • Require you to purchase chemicals on a monthly basis

Some argue that the cost of chemicals for a low temp dishwasher is much less than the increased energy savings versus a high temp unit.

While this may be true, the main factor to consider when you are trying to decide between a low or high temp dishwasher is the damage to flatware, plastics, and dinnerware that might occur with a low temp model because of the sanitation chemicals used.

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Vital Food Safety Equipment: Data Loggers

As the past year’s worth of food contamination scares have shown, managing food safety must be a top priority for the food service industry. In fact, it can mean the survival or failure of your business, since a foodborne illness case linked to your restaurant or commercial kitchen could put you out of business with sickening speed. The good news is there are many ways to apply technology to the timeless problem of managing temperature, and data loggers from companies like Comark are a major part of the 21st century approach to managing food safety.

Vital Food Safety Equipment: Data Loggers

Use data loggers to keep track of food temperature over time.

A data logger is a small (they usually fit in the palm of your hand) digital device capable of taking regular air temperature and humidity readings in a walk-in refrigerator or freezer.  This allows you to accurately record average food temperatures on a consistent basis and keep a log of temperature patterns over time.

Many data loggers even have an optional probe that can be inserted into cooling product to make sure it is getting out of the temperature danger zone quickly.  Multiple probes can be linked to a single logger through a link box system, allowing you to track temperatures in several types of product simultaneously.

Data loggers have incredible memory capabilities, with many able to record tens of thousands of temperature readings.  Even more useful to managers is accompanying software and a USB cable that enables data to be transferred from the logger to a PC, where it can be stored and analyzed.

Why are data loggers so important?

Besides the obvious ability to constantly monitor temperature in your commercial kitchen, a good data logging system will help you during your next health inspection.

Having cool time data for stored product and average walk-in temperatures at your fingertips means you can quantify for the inspector exactly how your food safety program is keeping product out of the temperature danger zone.

You’ll also be able to identify and head off problems before they become issues with the inspector.  If product isn’t cooling down fast enough or your walk-in isn’t staying cold enough, a data logger can tell very quickly.

Tracking temperature changes can also save you money.  If the data shows your walk-in’s temperature rises at the same time every day, it’s that much easier to identify the cause of the problem.

Maybe an employee leaves the door open to pull product every morning.  Perhaps the door gasket needs to be replaced.  Knowing temperature trends means you can devise ways to improve energy efficiency and save on the bills in the process.

It’s said “knowledge is power,” and having a data logger working for your restaurant or commercial kitchen is definitely a powerful way to manage food temperature.  And as recent events have shown, you can’t afford to ignore this very important issue.

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Krowne Underbar Equipment: Build What You Like

You probably already know Krowne commercial plumbing equipment.  If you have some Krowne faucets and sinks in your restaurant’s kitchen, then you understand that Krowne products are tough, well-made, and designed for a busy commercial cooking and cleaning environment.

Krowne underbar equipment follows the same set of production values.  The nice thing about this underbar equipment is that it comes in modular pieces, which means you can customize according to your bar’s dimensions and specific needs.  Check out some of their underbar equipment:

Krowne Underbar Equipment: Build What You Like

Take care of everything your bartenders need with the larger Krowne underbar pieces like cocktail stations, two and three compartment sinks, and liquor displays.

Krowne Underbar Equipment: Build What You Like

Add on modular pieces like blender stations, drain boards, and bottle storage units.  All Krowne underbar equipment comes in 1800 or 2100 series variations, meaning you can choose between an 18″ or a 21″ depth.

Krowne Underbar Equipment: Build What You Like

Of course, you’ll be able to add on accessories like speed racks, bottle openers, ice bins, and a lot more.  All you have to add are sides and a countertop and your bar is ready to rock!

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Adventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Replacing Equipment

Adventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Replacing Equipment“Which _____________ do you recommend?” This is a question I have been asked countless times by owners/managers that operate the restaurants I have worked in.

The real question they are asking is: “What equipment will run the longest and have the fewest breakdowns and cost the least to fix?”

The answer to such a profound question is “it depends.” I have been involved in repairing restaurant equipment for years. I have worked on a lot of different equipment made by many different manufactures. I cannot name a single brand of equipment that I would recommend in all situations. Nor have I discovered a manufacturer that designed equipment with an eye towards maintenance.

I have found some companies where the replacement parts are less expensive when compared to similar products. I have also found the reverse: particular brands of equipment where the replacement parts were higher than others who make equipment of the same type. The biggest difference I find in various manufactures is the AVAILIBILITY of replacement parts in a timely manner.

Some things to consider when buying restaurant equipment:

Is the equipment a “KEY” or “critical” to your operation? In other words, if this equipment went out on a busy Saturday night, how bad would it affect your ability to serve your customer? You need to know how critical the equipment is before you make any decision on what brand of equipment to purchase! If the equipment is a “KEY” piece of equipment, you need to do some research before you buy! Remember, you will likely own this equipment for YEARS. If you make the wrong decision, you will be stuck with the results for as long as you own the equipment.

1. Company (or Brand)
I would not buy a “key” piece of equipment in anything except a well known national brand. The reason goes way beyond what kind of warranty is offered. A well known national brand will be in business 10 years down the road when you need a good service department to call.

2. Warranty
The warranty on equipment can vary widely. What’s more, the way warranty service is performed can also be different from one company to the next. Some equipment has different warranties with regard to various parts of the equipment. For instance, an ice machine might have a one year warranty on everything except the compressor that comes with a 5 year warranty. Inform yourself on the warranty and what it covers. Your new equipment will come with a warranty card. Read it and send the little card in and register the equipment.

I make a copy of the card before I send it in and staple the copy to the operator manual for future reference. It has vital information you might not have in 10 years such as the model and serial numbers along with the date it was installed.

3. Parts AvailabilityAdventures In Restaurant Maintenance: Replacing Equipment
You should inquire on how hard the equipment is to get parts for. This is where it is critical to have purchased a well known national brand. You should not rely on the salesman to provide you this information. I would call a place that sells parts and just ask. The question should be something like this: “I am buying a _____________, do you stock parts for this equipment? If I were to order a critical part, how long would it take to receive it?”

In other words, does the company keep critical parts ON THE SHELF for this equipment? No company keeps ALL the parts for any given equipment in stock; a good company, however, will keep CRITICAL parts available to ship right away on common equipment. This can make a REAL difference on a “KEY” piece of equipment when you have to have it back up and running FAST.

4. Model
You should try and buy a model that has been made for several years. Most manufacturers will make popular models of equipment for several years before changing anything significant. You might be looking for the latest “bells and whistles” on your new equipment and have to purchase a model that just came out; but unless it is something you HAVE to have, I would not recommend it. It takes parts companies time to determine the critical parts needed and spend the money to put them on the shelves. If you stick with a tried and true model, you will likely have less headaches in the future if it should break down.

Another good reason not to go with the “newest model” is your kitchen will not be stuck with working out the “kinks” on something that has not been tested in the “real world.” Chances are it will be warranty work, but you will still suffer some down time waiting for a technician to show up and fix it.

Under no circumstances do you want a “prototype” model. You will have to investigate the model number you are buying to insure you are getting what you want. You can’t count on a salesperson telling you “this is the prototype!” The manufacturer’s website is a good place to find out; or just call the tech service line and ask one of the technicians that work for the manufacturer what he or she thinks of a given model. These folks are usually honest about problems with a particular model.

Use all the information available to make a decision you can feel good about not only now but when the equipment breaks down in a few years. You notice I said WHEN it breaks down; not IF it breaks down. All equipment will break down! The best thing you can do is educate yourself so you will be prepared when it happens.

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Use Ice Machine Water Filters For More Than Just Ice

Use Ice Machine Water Filters For More Than Just IceIf you don’t do so already, you should definitely consider filtering the water you serve your customers.  We have already covered water filtration here on The Back Burner, but if you need to filter a glass filler specifically, the best way to do so is with an ice machine water filter.  That’s because you get everything you need for filtering drinking water from a water filter made for ice machines.  After all, properly filtered ice is simply frozen drinking-quality water.

An ice machine water filter will remove cyst, bacteria, taste, odor, and sediment from your restaurant’s tap water, making it just as good if not better than anything that comes in a bottle.  Ice machine water filters also have a built-in scale inhibitor that removes hard minerals.

Any ice machine water filter will work for your glass filler, but I strongly recommend a Cuno filter.  Cuno’s newest filters are single cartridge affairs (as opposed to multiple cartridge systems like Everpure), meaning they take up less space and are easier to replace.  This is especially true because the replacement cartridge doesn’t require pre-charging and it can be plugged directly into the filter head while minimizing contamination and leaks.

Use Ice Machine Water Filters For More Than Just IceAnother option is to install one filter for your entire restaurant’s water supply.  Again, I find Cuno’s dual port manifold system to be the best around, especially since one filter and a scale inhibitor can filter 54,000 gallons of water.  This single filter can service all of your beverage and ice machine plus glass filler needs, and you can even bypass the scale inhibitor for soft drinks, which is required by big distributors like Coke and Pepsi.

You can also get a glass filler kit that comes with a T&S glass filler and a Cuno ice machine water filter.  No matter what, make sure you’re serving quality water to your customers.  Not only will they appreciate it, it’s also one more way you can make your restaurant stand out amongst your competition.

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Restaurant Sinks and Faucets: Some Useful Tips

More than likely, your restaurant has several sinks that serve many purposes in the back of the house, in server stations, and behind the bar.  Having the right kind of sinks in the right places is important not only to accomplish many various tasks, from glass and hand washing to stock pot and flatware cleaning, it’s also a vital part of your food safety program, and something that health inspectors will focus on.

First, let’s get the basics out of the way.  Most of you probably already know this stuff because you have to set up your sinks properly to pass inspection.  But if you’re thinking about starting a brand new restaurant, the following info will be very helpful.

For the rest of you, skip past this and read some additional, VERY IMPORTANT information, unless you’re looking for one of the sinks or faucets listed below.  Click the link if this is the case.

Types of Sinks:

Restaurant Sinks and Faucets: Some Useful Tips

Hand Sink

  • Hand Sinks: these are pretty standard sinks for washing your hands.  Keep the dishes out.
  • Kitchen Sinks: choose from 1, 2, 3, or 4 compartment kitchen sinks for rinsing and washing dishes.  An HACCP program requires a 3 compartment sink for the proper sanitization of dishes.  Review the procedure here.  If you want to wash and fill stock pots and other big cookware items, get a big sized compartment sink.
  • Bar Sinks: 3 compartment bar sinks are designed for glass washing behind the bar.
  • With all these sinks, make sure you buy NSF approved only! NSF sinks have features that prevent the buildup of grime and bacteria, like welded drainboards and sealed seams that eliminate spaces.

Types of Faucets:

Restaurant Sinks and Faucets: Some Useful Tips

Deck Mount Faucet

  • Deck Mount Faucets: these faucets mount directly onto the sink.  Make sure you measure the hole centers, or the distance between the center of the two holes where the faucet will mount on your sink, before ordering.
  • Wall Mount Faucets: these faucets mount from the wall and come through the backsplash.  Wall mount faucets are by far the most common type in restaurants.
  • Pot Filler Assemblies: these are a specialized wall mount faucet with a hose or extended, swiveling spout that allows you to easily fill big stock pots.
  • Pre-Rinse Assemblies: these assemblies are designed to help staff quickly rinse dirty cookware and tableware before it goes into your dish machine.

It’s always going to be easier to install the type of faucet that your sinks and kitchen’s plumbing are set up for.  If the sink in question has holes for a deck mount faucet and your pipes come vertically out of the floor, use a deck mount.  If you have plumbing coming horizontally out of the wall, by all means use a wall mount faucet.

If you skipped down, start here.

Leaky faucets can waste thousands of gallons of water every year! That costs your restaurant money, especially if it’s the hot water that’s leaking.  Over time, the washers in a stem assembly become worn, which means they don’t form a perfect seal when the handle is turned off.  This allows water to leak out even though the faucet is turned off.  These washers are less than $5, and they can save you hundreds of dollars in utility costs over the course of a year.

Caring For Restaurant Sinks and Faucets

Commercial sinks and faucets are made from stainless steel.  Stainless steel is a great material because it’s durable and rust resistant, but a couple simple maintenance techniques can extend the life cycle of any sink or faucet.

Never use abrasive pads or detergents.  Steel isn’t stainless or rust resistant.  There is actually a thin film of chromium and/or nickel that covers the steel and gives it it’s shine and prevents rust from forming.  When you use an abrasive pad or detergent to clean stainless steel, this thin film becomes scored and develops holes, which allows rust to move in.

Wipe sinks and faucets down daily.  Moisture is rust’s best friend, and the sinks and faucets in your kitchen are necessarily wet all day.  When you clean out your sinks at the end of the day, however, make sure you wipe them down with a soft rag.  This prevents moisture and rust from working together overnight to tarnish and rust your sinks and faucets.

Use a Garbage Disposer

Restaurant Sinks and Faucets: Some Useful Tips

Garbage Disposer

In kitchen sinks that collect food waste from washing cookware and tableware, installing a garbage disposer is important.  Not only does it increase your kitchen’s efficiency since you don’t have to clean out and dispose of food waste separately, a garbage disposer also makes your restaurant green.  That’s because you keep food waste out of landfills and conserve water by reducing sink cleaning time.  Sending food waste down the drain also keeps it out of trash cans and dumpsters in your kitchen, where it decomposes quickly, breeding bacteria and nasty smells.

Restaurant sinks are easy to forget about.  It’s one of those things you have to worry about when you first open a restaurant, and don’t really think about afterwards.  But properly maintaining your sinks and faucets, repairing them quickly when they leak, and equipping them properly with things like pot fillers and garbage disposers, not only makes your operation more efficient, it can translate into significant savings later on.

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Restaurant Kitchen Casters: Buy Smart

Casters make life in your restaurant’s kitchen a whole lot easier.  They allow you to roll heavy equipment around for cleaning.  They make your mop buckets mobile and power hand carts and loaded shelving in your walk-in and storage areas.  They even let you roll the trash out quickly.  The lowly caster serves many purposes, but what many restaurateurs don’t realize is how easy they are to replace, and, most importantly, how much money you can save by buying casters for new equipment separately.

Restaurant Kitchen Casters: Buy Smart

Most heavy equipment will take a heavy duty plate caster, but some may take a threaded stem caster instead

Let’s start with new restaurant equipment and shelving.  Any time you buy a new piece of heavy restaurant equipment like a gas range, a fryer, or a reach in refrigerator or freezer, the manufacturer will want you to buy an accompanying caster set.  Casters on this heavy equipment is a great idea because it makes cleaning your kitchen much easier.  An even better idea is to buy an after-market caster set separately, with the same weight capacities and heavy duty construction, at a fraction of what the equipment manufacturer wants to charge you.  Most heavy restaurant equipment will take a plate caster or a threaded stem caster.

Restaurant Kitchen Casters: Buy Smart

An expanding stem caster fits into the round or square hole of a shelving post and expands so that it fits tight inside the hole.

The wire shelving you use in walk-ins and for storage are much easier to handle if you mount them on casters.  That way, shelving can be moved for cleaning, and the extra height will help you meet the minimum 6” space between the bottom shelf and the floor required by the health inspector.  Shelving usually takes an expanding stem caster.  And while we are on the subject of shelving, if you are buying some for your walk-in, make sure you get the epoxy coated kind!  The moist environment in a walk-in causes non-coated shelving to rust very quickly, which not only looks bad, it means you’ll be buying more shelving within a few years.

Restaurant Kitchen Casters: Buy Smart

Most carts, dollies, and mop buckets take a caster like this one, but some take a small plate caster

Hand carts, dollies, and mop buckets also have casters.  Unlike restaurant equipment, these items usually come already mounted with their casters, so buying them separately is not an option.  However, those casters often break or wear out long before the item is no longer useful.  Replacements are often hard to find unless you know where to look.  These casters are often very easy to replace, getting a replacement caster can extend the life of your carts, dollies, and mop buckets.

So the next time you need some new equipment casters or need to replace some old ones, remember that you have options, and if you look around, you can save some significant dough by buying smart.

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