Commercial Refrigeration

  1. Making the Transition from Food Truck to Brick and Mortar Location

    Chef Grills Bacon On a Food Truck

    Food trucks are a great, economical way to get your business started on a budget. Many brick and mortar restaurants envy food trucks their low overhead, mobility, and ability to go to customers vs waiting for customers to come to them.

    However, at some point, every food truck may consider expanding their operations to a brick and mortar store. Once you have a proven concept at hand, you can increase your profit margins drastically by adding chairs - and a liquor license! - to your operation. However - there are still important things to consider before taking the plunge:

    Location - a food truck can easily go from place to place. Some cities, such as Austin, TX, will even allow food trucks to semi-permanently park on land - thereby rendering the operation extremely cheap from a rent perspective. A restaurant is, of course, static by nature. So location is key. Even a couple miles distance in a city can be the difference between high foot traffic and almost no foot traffic. Although a solid menu and marketing plan will certainly boost your customer base - as well as the reputation you've built through your food truck business - choosing a desirable, high traffic location will certainly help.

    Finance - a new restaurant build out can easily cost a quarter of a million dollars - or more. Where is this capital coming from? Chances are, you will need a partner with deep pockets or a hefty loan in order to turn your restaurant into reality. In addition to the opening costs, it's important to consider how long you will be in operation before turning a profit. Average, six to twelve months are needed before a restaurant turns a profit (although again - see above - a good marketing plan, good location, and good reputation can drastically increase that).

    Vibe - food trucks are, almost by definition, hip and cool places. Restaurants can have many different atmospheres, and it's a great time to sit down and brand your business appropriately when your're creating your restaurant plan. Are you more upscale? Chic? Minimalist? Family oriented? Traditional? All of these are great things to consider with your architect and general contractor as you make the plunge from food truck to brick and mortar.

    Equipment - this is last on our list but perhaps the most important piece of all! Your restaurant will need: ovens, shelves, refrigerators, ice machines, pots and pans, knives, cutting boards, the list goes on and on. Chances are a good part of your food truck may be used in the new spot, but it may make sense to keep the food truck for mobile/catering operations and to sustain your existing business and start from scratch. No matter your choice - trust RestaurantSupply.com for the best possible deals from the best brands and shop with us first when outfitting your new restaurant.

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  2. The Power of Customer Data

    The Power of Customer Data

    To run a successful restaurant, you need a variety of skills. It’s not simply the ones who can run the back of the house or the front of the house which keep the True refrigerators chilling our favorite foods. No, it’s a combination of everything, including the knowledge of the customers which come into the restaurant.

    Like we talked about in one of our previous articles, data is the differentiator between the restaurant marketer of yesteryear and the one of today. You have an amazing amount of access to the feelings and thoughts of the people who are coming into your restaurant through the power of social media.

    That knowledge can put you in better touch with the people who you want to eat in your establishment. A recent study conducted by EPFL looks at students’ motivations about eating. They studied foot traffic around a college campus in an effort to determine why students were more prone to shop in certain places.

    By collecting data through the school WiFi antennas, researchers were able to determine the two biggest drives for college students and their eating habits: price and proximity. From the research, it honestly didn’t matter what type of food was being offered to the students.

    This provides some insight about what you can do if you’re planning to open up a new restaurant. Make it cheap, make it somewhat satisfying, and you’ve got a successful restaurant on your hands.

    Take this information and extrapolate it – if you’re looking at opening up a restaurant which caters to higher-end folks, where would you put it? Where do these pedestrians go? Or, more to the point, whose True refrigerators do they keep running?

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  3. What Happens when your Refrigerator Breaks Down?

    What Happens when your Refrigerator Breaks Down?

    In the restaurant business, food safety is of the utmost importance. The people who are eating your food need to have absolute confidence that the products that you sell won’t make them sick or unhappy. This is one of the reasons that it’s so very important to keep your commercial refrigerators working at their best.

    Some restaurants believe that they don’t have time to check their equipment, but it takes just a moment to make sure that the temperatures are right. Hold those commercial refrigerators to task, and they will reward you with their reliable service.

    When your commercial refrigerator isn’t working, there are a few things that you need to consider. The first is that every food is a magnet for bacteria, and that bacteria is potentially life threatening. The refrigeration slows down the spread, but does not eliminate it. So, action must be taken soon.

    You can purchase a new refrigerator

    We have several suggestions for your new refrigerator. It depends on what you’re after, but we have both walk-in units and reach-in units available for your purchase.

    You can get the one you have serviced

    There are qualified commercial refrigerator repair people throughout the country, and it’s highly likely that there’s one in your area who would just love to service your rig. Be warned, though, if they’re good they have a backlog.

    Regardless of which option you choose, however, it’s necessary to get your items to a place where they can be properly refrigerated OR simply get rid of it through selling more of that item. If you’d like, take a look at some of the suggestions that we have for boosting your restaurant sales.

    What is the craziest thing that you’ve seen done when the fridge isn’t working?

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  4. Things you should Never Freeze

    Things you should Never Freeze

    There are so many things that you can put in your True freezer, but some things should really stay out of it. In the heat of the moment, people can forget that there are some things which just don’t belong in the freezer. Let’s take a look at a few of them.

    Mayo

    While your freezer might have the space to be able to fit it, putting mayo in the freezer is never suggested. When it defrosts, the consistency is horrible.

    Eggs

    While it seems like it’s a pretty good idea, it’s suggested that you never put eggs into the freezer. The liquids inside expand, which might lead to the shells breaking and potentially exploding. Your True freezer will never be the same!

    Fried foods

    It’s tempting to want to save the extras from a long day of cooking in the freezer, but the fried goodies should never make it there. Freezing fried foods destroys all the crunchiness. Customers will be hard on you when they receive the soggy mess.

    Fresh greens

    There are some things which don’t belong in the freezer, and fresh greens like spinach and herbs fall into this category. The ice crystals cause the cell walls to burst, essentially cooking the herbs with cold. The result is a sloppy mess. Cooked greens are fine though!

    There are plenty more things that you shouldn’t put into your True freezer. Ask the chef at your restaurant to go over the list when they have brand new assistants on staff.

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  5. What's in the Cooler of a Rich Person?

    What's in the Cooler of a Rich Person?

    At Restaurant Supply, we strive to help out everyone – from the first time restaurant owners to the ‘old hats’ at the restaurant business. Our restaurant equipment can help out both the caterers and the private chefs, too. Being a chef to the super wealthy means that you are always looking for a way to make things happen.

    We can only imagine what’s in the walk-in coolers of these people, be it freshly caught tuna from Japanese shores to the freshest conceivable exotic produce that’s fit for kings and other dignitaries. These personal assistants are responsible for everything, creating a support system for the wealthy and powerful. Chefs are just one of the many service personnel involved in making things ‘go’ for the wealthy. Those chefs have to have the right equipment on their side, the right knives and the right instruments to make the perfect cuts. Perhaps the kitchen at the mansion has a deli counter where the owners can serve their guests?

    Having the right food on hand can help as well. “Others might demand a feast for 50 people with only a few hours’ notice.” The chefs in these households need to be on their toes, ready to move at a moment’s notice. This goes beyond just having the right stock pot, they’re delving into the art of food concierge.

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  6. Don't Let Fish Mingle! Get a Fish Refrigerator

    Don't Let Fish Mingle! Get a Fish Refrigerator

    Do you run a seafood restaurant? Then you know what can happen when the flavors of fish mingle. It’s not very good. Have you ever wondered if there’s a fridge that can hold your crushed ice and fish in an efficient and sanitary manner?  The Continental Refrigerator Fish File Refrigerator can do that for you.

    The fish file refrigerator has a number of compartments (depending on the model that you purchase) which holds fish between 38-40 degrees. These compartments are specially made for holding your fish on crushed ice. It’s much like a set of drawers for blueprints, except you’re holding fish instead. These compartments do more than just keep fish cold. They also keep different types of fish away from each other so that the flavors do not mix. This is very important for restaurants that use a lot of seafood, like a sushi restaurant, which would otherwise have a walk-in freezer with all sorts of seafood mingling.

    So, if you’re stuck wondering about a solution that can keep your fish chilled and not leave you high and dry, consider having a fish file refrigerator in your kitchen.  You'll have better-tasting and healthier fish, and your kitchen staff will love the new tool.

    Photo Attribution

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  7. Advantages of Using Frozen Food

    Advantages of Using Frozen Food

    March is National Frozen Food Month, which means that it’s time to stock your commercial freezer with all types of goodies from peas to corn to mixed vegetables.  Yes, some foods don't freeze well, but many times bad meals from frozen food are because they weren't brought up to temperature correctly.  What can you do with a good freezer?

    Take advantage of sales

    If you’ve got room in your freezer, you can take advantage of sales that your food supplier might be offering. Take advantage of them, put the food into the freezer, and don’t forget to date it!

    Get food out of season

    Every veggie has a season where it is the most delicious and the cheapest, but you might want to serve it throughout the whole year in your restaurant.  With freezing, you can get food that you normally wouldn’t be able to get locally.

    Non-local food

    Freezing your food in a commercial freezer can allow for you to get something which isn’t local shipped in.  As long as you keep it frozen, it will be okay.

    Frozen foods are fresher

    Most bagged frozen foods are frozen very soon after they’ve been picked.  This means that the nutrients and the minerals are still packed inside and that the wilting process has stopped.

    No Additives

    Your bag of frozen veggies doesn’t have any additives.  It’s just peas or it’s just corn, so you don’t have to worry about those things that you can’t pronounce ending up in your commercial freezer.

    Whether you’re freezing food after it’s been created or shipping in bags of frozen food to your restaurant, freezing makes an excellent option for food preservation.  See what you can stock in your freezer today!

    Photo Attribution

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  8. It's Time to Celebrate National Frozen Yogurt Day

    It's Time to Celebrate National Frozen Yogurt Day

    Frozen Yogurt Day is February 6th.

    A Little Bit About Frozen Yogurt

    Frozen yogurt started as an alternative to ice cream.  People wanted something that tasted just as good as the ice cream that they’d grown up with, but healthier.  In 1981, the frozen yogurt movement was born with the opening of the first TCBY.

    Like any good idea, there were imitators to the TCBY brand and stores started popping up everywhere.  Sales of the product reached around $25 million in 1986.  By the mid ‘90’s, frozen yogurt sales reached around 10% of the frozen dessert market with over $300 million in sales.

    There was a darker time for yogurt that happened after the ‘90’s, and many turned in their frozen yogurt machines, but, like any food trend, it came back when enough time had passed. Gradually, with the efforts of some of the newer chains, there was a resurgence in frozen yogurt in the 2000’s and it has been listed as a trend which is here for at least another few years.

    Ice cream and frozen yogurt have been trading fastest-growing titles with one another for years.  Right now, frozen yogurt is going through a renaissance with its multiple flavors and toppings.  The market grew by 74% between 2011 and 2013, quite a healthy boost.

    Producers are going into overdrive with the creation of yogurt products.  Just over 80 million gallons of frozen yogurt were made in 2013, which represents a rise of 40% over 2012.  People are recognizing that frozen yogurt is very, very tasty.

    People love to experience the flavors of this delightful frozen dessert a lot more than the flavors of ice cream.  Many ice cream connoisseurs prefer vanilla, but people go everywhere with the flavors of frozen yogurt, be it into berries or more exotic lands.

    Have yourself a cone or a cup of frozen yogurt and support the bold tradition today.

    Photo attribution

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  9. Considerations for your Ice Cream Truck

    Considerations for your Ice Cream Truck

    Ice cream is probably the last thing on your mind right now.  You’re most likely dreaming about the latest soup recipes that you’re going to cook in the stock pot.  We totally get that.  Summer seems to come faster than any of us think, and soon enough, people will be clamoring for the cold treats once more.

    Last week, we talked about food trucks and some of the considerations which need to be made when thinking about the food trucks.  Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about starting up your own ice cream truck.

    There are several considerations which must be taken into account when opening up an ice cream truck business.  The first is the sad fact that the business is seasonal, limited to the warm times when people gather.  In the off months, the truck will have to be in the garage or repurposed for other foods.

    When looking at any business, you have to examine the profit potential.  According to SimplyHired.com, the ice cream truck vendor is around $25,000 for that seasonal work.  The potential, however, for the truck itself is nearly limitless – that depends on the amount of hustle that you’re willing to put into the project.

    If you’re self-employed, one of the biggest parts of sales is to have a dynamic and friendly attitude.  There are so many folks who have the ‘nuts and bolts’ part down, but they don’t seem to have the other, less technical, skills.

    In some cases, the initial costs of setting up a mobile eatery from scratch can rival that of your brick and mortar restaurants.  There are equipment costs, license fees, costs for stocking your truck, and more.  But, once those one-time costs for worktop freezers and glass display merchandisers have been accounted for, the price for running one becomes considerably less.

    Running an ice cream truck takes persistence, passion, and patience, but it can be done (and quite profitably, too!).

    Thanks go out to Clyde Robinson on Flickr for the Creative Commons use of the picture.

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  10. Cleaning and Maintaining Your Delfield Refrigerator

    Cleaning and Maintaining Your Delfield Refrigerator

    No refrigerator, no restaurant. When properly maintained, the Delfield refrigerator that you’ve got will chill for many years.  Here is how you can make sure your system is in top shape.

    Make Sure the Seals are Tight

    The seals of your Delfield refrigerator are very important, as any tiny leakage can cost you energy and potentially get you a ding on the health inspection reports.  Look for any cracks or places where the seal is a little loose.

    Clean The Outside

    Cleaning the outside of your Delfield refrigerator might not be the first thing on your mind, but if you thoroughly clean the stainless steel surface with a light vinegar mixture you can keep it shiny and disinfect it. Vinegar is also good at getting rid of oily fingerprints on the handle.

    Make sure to get handles, too

    Don’t forget those handles! I know that you saw it on the health inspection reports that they were getting dinged a bit on the handles of their fridges.  If you make sure that there’s no gunk or grease on the handles, you’ll go much further in getting that perfect score.

    Wipe Down the Coils Twice Yearly

    If your coils are collecting dust, you’re not only going to make your Delfield refrigerator work a little harder but you’ll also find that your energy bills will go up just a bit.  Since energy usage is one of the biggest expenses in a kitchen, it’s always good to keep a handle on that. Plus, it’ll make your refrigerator last longer.

    Check out your Fan Blades

    After turning it off, make sure that the fan blades are cleaned off at least once a month.  You can use a moist towel to do this. Again, make sure the refrigerator is off!

    Chill Out

    Make sure that your temperatures are meeting the standard of 41 degrees or below, and that the materials in the fridge are properly labeled. Use a separate thermometer to ensure that your thermostat is working.

    If you find anything really wrong with the refrigerator during this inspection process, it’s time to call a professional. No restaurant can survive long without a refrigerator. Until then, keep up your maintenance and cleaning.

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