An integral part of any restaurant is its refrigeration systems. Restaurant refrigeration ranges from small coolers (like a dorm fridge) to massive walk-in refrigerators and freezers, and everything in between. Carefully selecting the right type of refrigeration for a new restaurant will make your commercial kitchen run smoothly and contribute to a positive experience for staff and customers.
Buying Restaurant Refrigeration
One of the biggest steps in opening a restaurant is buying the right kind of commercial kitchen equipment.
Before you buy any restaurant refrigeration, you need to decide what types of coolers and freezers you need. Your restaurant concept and size will be the biggest factors in what you buy for restaurant refrigeration. If you have limited space in your restaurant design, then a large walk-in refrigerator probably won’t work. If your menu is based on a lot of frozen foods, like pub grub such as fries, chicken wings and onion rings, then you will need ample freezer space. Your food distributors delivery schedule will also affect what you need for restaurant refrigeration. Restaurants who receive daily deliveries of fresh meats, seafood and produce won’t need as much refrigeration as restaurants who only get a delivery once or twice a week.
Types of Restaurant Refrigeration
Reach-In Coolers Usually found in the kitchen and bar areas of a restaurant, though they can be in the wait station. A reach-in, as it names implies, is low to the ground, with two or three doors and staff must reach in to find items. Reach-ins work best if they are isolated from the cooking line and all its heat. This will help keep the food stored inside the reach-ins at safe holding temperatures.
Refrigeration Drawers Often referred to as fish-drawers, under counter refrigeration draws are ideal for small restaurant kitchens. They are designed to be installed directly into a cooking line and can hold seafood, poultry or meat for the grill or sauté stations.
Walk-In Coolers Walk-in coolers can be the size of a small closet or as big as a living room. Walk-ins are good for holding large boxes of produce, buckets of food, blocks of cheese and anything else that is large, bulky and perishable. Food grade shelves, wall covering and flooring needs to be used in walk-ins. Check with your local health department for your state’s health codes pertaining to restaurant walk-in coolers.
Restaurant Freezers Like coolers, restaurant freezers can be either reach-ins or walk-ins. It is good to note that a restaurant freezer is not a place to store or make ice. Instead, invest in an ice machine for this job. Ice machines can be bought new, used or leased.
Restaurant Bar Refrigeration – Coolers for the bar are known as low boys (low to the ground) or high boys (waist level). White and blush wines, bottled beer, bar mixes and any other bottled or canned beverages are stored in bar coolers. A separate walk-in refrigerator may be needed for beer kegs, or you can keep them in your restaurant kitchen walk-in, if space permits.
There are many types of restaurant refrigeration available. It's important to select the right kind of cooler or freezer, to best fit your commercial kitchen or bar area. A bonus - purchasing gently used commercial refrigeration will save a deal of start up capital.