Starting a new restaurant is no easy feat. If you are already on the path, you know there’s an endless list of decisions to make — from whether or not you should even start one, to the location, cuisine and later down the list — equipment.
For a restaurant, a refrigerator is a crucial equipment. You could consider it the powerhouse of the business. This piece of equipment will preserve your ingredients, leftovers and will be used to display products such as wines and beverages. Plus, it’s a considerable investment. So, you absolutely shouldn’t rush to make a purchase or skimp over the decision stage. The choice of a commercial refrigerator is one that should be made after careful consideration.
In this article, we’ll cover three important steps you can take to ensure you take the right choice of commercial refrigeration for your business.
Step 1: Start by making a list of your own requirements
Before you even start shopping for a refrigerator, you should be clear about some of the important details on your end. That way you avoid getting overwhelmed when you open a product catalogue or browse through online stores.
So grab a pen and paper and go through this checklist:
What is the size of your workspace?
How much space can a refrigerator take up without cramping your space? Get the dimensions of your workspace and visualise the size of equipment you want in there.
Take note of the exact position where the refrigerator will be and the other equipment that will flank it. This may affect the type of refrigerator you choose (more on that later).
What about your doorway? Any equipment you choose has to pass through unless you want to break down walls.
Next, take a look at your menu and size of regular stock.
Do not buy a refrigerator until you have settled your menu and the types of food you’ll prepare. This is important because different foods have different storage temperatures and refrigeration guidelines. While foods like vegetables can simply be refrigerated, meat, fish and other high-risk items need to be kept frozen at all times. So, you want a unit that is powerful yet flexible enough to accommodate your range of food ingredients.
If you have limited space, you may also have to consider buying smaller units such as under-counter refrigerators or worktop freezers. This would require sorting your ingredients into groups that are likely to be kept/stored together.
Once you have sorted out your refrigeration requirements, then it’s time to start scouting for the right equipment.
Step 2: Match equipment specs against your needs
This is why the first step is really important. Armed with the size of your workspace, food types and other specifications, it’s easier to narrow down your search and to use filters on e-commerce stores.
One of the common descriptions you will come across is the top-mount and bottom-mount refrigerator. This description refers to the location of the condenser within the equipment. Top-mount refrigerators have the condensers at the top of the fridge while condensers in bottom-mount freezers are located below the fridge.
Each type has its pros and cons. With bottom-mount freezers, for example, it’s easier to reach for ingredients because the condenser location means that the refrigeration unit is elevated. The disadvantage, however, is that the low position of the condenser makes it easy for dust and dirt to collect under the unit, making maintenance harder in the long run.
On the other hand, top-mount freezers do not collect dust and dirt but are usually not suitable to be used near heaters because of grease and oil leakage. Repairs may also be more difficult for technicians because the condenser is located higher up the unit.
You would have to take all these into consideration before settling for an equipment.
Step 3: Make your final decision based on quality and long-term performance
Starting a restaurant entails a lot of financial involvement. But don’t be tempted to settle for a cheap equipment in order to save money. Instead, focus on long-term performance. While it may look alluring to simply go for a cheap equipment from an unnamed manufacturer, the long-term costs quickly add up.
Your best bet is to go for trusted brands and ensure the equipment comes with a reasonable warranty. This can save you a lot of headache in the long run, as refrigerators often break down for no reason. With a reputable manufacturer, you are much more likely to get support and services should anything go wrong.
Get professional help
A sure way to make the process of choosing commercial refrigeration even easier is to use some professional help. We have helped over 50 restaurant owners with their equipment selection process. We not only guide them through the process but explain why they should go for which manufacturer or specific equipment.
To learn more about our advisory services, book a free consultation.