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Friday, October 23, 2015

How to Stay Energy Efficient in the Kitchen

Running a kitchen can be expensive- both in monetary and environmental costs. No matter how you look at it, restaurants are an energy-intensive business. The energy bill can start to eat away at a small restaurant owner’s budget, so optimization is a high priority.

Customers will also appreciate and better connect with your business if they know measures are taken to be environmentally friendly. The Millennial generation makes up a large part of the environmental sustainability movement, and thus care more about how much energy a business utilizes.

Here are some tips to run your kitchen operations at optimum efficiency.

• Remember to keep in mind that some restaurant equipment is more efficient than others, such as how griddles are generally more efficient than broilers, or that steam cookers require less energy than a typical steamed dish.

• Consider utilizing compact fluorescent lamps in place of the more energy-hungry incandescent variety. Sensors that recognize occupancy can also help to reduce costs by limiting the amount of time certain lights stay on throughout the day or night.

• Curtains! It may seem like a simple solution, but cooler curtains around the walk-in area can help reduce air-conditioning or heating costs by better retaining the internal temperature.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Should I Know Restaurant Equipment Make and Model?

You’re in the market for a new piece of equipment, but perhaps you are unsure of how to wade through the various part names and labels. We help many people looking for the right equipment parts, and the first thing we ask for is the make and model number of the equipment that needs new parts. Without those two pieces of information, finding the right part becomes much more difficult.

Can you make out the difference between these two safety pilot valves?

GR-111 Safety Pilot Valve - 3/8" Pipe

GR-112 Safety Pilot Valve - 1/2" Pipe

They look very similar, but they are completely separate parts. When browsing for parts online, a high percentage of items cannot be identified by the way they look. Small differences in hidden mechanisms, electronics, or even size can make a part incompatible with your equipment.

Another fact to keep in mind is date of manufacture. Restaurant equipment goes through various revisions over the years, so a part made for a newer equipment version may not necessarily be the right fit for an older model. Always check the manufacturer’s documentation to determine if a specific part is backwards compatible.

Buying an incompatible equipment part can be frustrating for both suppliers and customers. When equipment malfunctions cause vital pieces of equipment to fail, restaurant owners want to fix the problem ASAP. When a part is found out to be incorrect, extra time must be spent to facilitate the return process, and then go out and find the correct part all over again.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to avoid that type of mess. Identify the location on your equipment that displays the model number, and make sure any replacement part is compatible with that model number. Parts Depot always works to find you the correct part the first time around, so your equipment can get back up and running like it used to.

Call us today at 1-800-738-7750 for assistance with selecting equipment parts, or fill out our online contact form.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Tips For Buying Restaurant Equipment (Part 2)

The motto, “you get what you pay for,” truly applies when talking about restaurant equipment. As a purchaser, you may be tempted to take the cheapest option available, without giving much thought to equipment specifications, or how equipment fuel efficiency affects a daily budget.

Continuing from our previous post on buying new restaurant equipment, here are 5 new tips to keep in mind while making a purchasing decision.

Consider Quality Over Cost

Are you expanding your commercial equipment arsenal, or replacing an older unit? What if your next piece of equipment lasted longer, and required less upkeep than what you had before? Both questions lead to an important point—choose quality equipment when cost allows for it. Do some preliminary research on equipment manufacturers, and if materials, technology, and reputation factor in to a good purchase. In some cases, purchasing equipment with extra features or systems cuts out the need for an entirely separate unit!

Pay Attention to Utility Specifications

When reading up on equipment features online or at the store, don’t forget to run through the utility specifications. These include all hookups for water, gas, and electric. It may help to jot down some notes of what you have available in your kitchen setup before you begin your search for new equipment. There is nothing worse than buying electric powered equipment, only to remember your setup runs on gas!

Make Sure You Have Space

Another great step to take before making any purchases is to measure your kitchen. Remember, if your newly purchased fryer doesn’t fit through your kitchen door, it won’t be of much use! Take the time to compare product dimensions with your own kitchen setup, and create a mock diagram of where new equipment will go.

Go Green

Certain manufacturers may offer “green” functionality as a selling point. Equipment efficiency is another important factor to keep in mind when considering two similar options. Remember that “green” is just a word, and on few occasions may even signify less efficient specifications than equipment not advertised as green. At the end of the day, it is up to you to carefully consider your options and select equipment based on the facts, and not hype. Fuel-efficient equipment has the potential to save a restaurant over $10,000 a year compared to less optimized options.

Don’t Immediately Sign For New Equipment

While it may be exciting to make such a big purchase, don’t jump the gun and sign without inspecting the equipment in question first. After delivery, the first thing you should so is check for any nicks, dents, or indication of mishandling. Should anything be damaged, do not sign for the package. If you do, it will become more difficult to claim the damage was due to faulty delivery practices.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

8 Tips to Remain Safe with your Commercial Range

A properly maintained commercial range acts as the bread and butter for many restaurant kitchens. Stay familiar with safety precautions provided by your equipment manufacture, and keep employees safe while preventing costly accidents.

Here are 8 tips for managing commercial range safety:

1. Clean Ventilation- Functioning ventilation is a key factor in reducing excessive heat during and after cooking, especially since most cooking equipment will be kept under the kitchen hood. At the end of each day, remember to clean out the kitchen hood by sending it through your commercial-grade dishwasher—otherwise you run the risk of clogged ventilation and toxic fumes escaping into the kitchen area.

2. Keep Heat at Safe Levels- Always be aware of hot surfaces when cooking to avoid burns or other injuries. While it may be tempting to ramp up the burner flames when heating up that pot of water, remember that peripheral fire crawling over the sides of the pot can be a potential fire hazard.

3. Use Oven Mitts and Other Protective Equipment- Always follow safety precautions and makes sure you are using the correct tools and equipment. When handling hot containers, remember to use an oven mitt instead of a towel, or you run the risk of heat transferring directly to your skin if the towel is wet.

4. Reduce Kitchen Traffic- The kitchen is a busy and quick-moving place. Don’t get caught up in the rush and forget safety procedure—remember to only keep required kitchen staff and workers in the commercial range area to minimize spills, slipping, and other accidents.

5. Follow Maintenance Instructions- Protect your investment in commercial-grade equipment and follow your manufacturers’ maintenance guidelines. Clean and replace old or damaged equipment as needed, and remember to check over working equipment on a regular basis. Not only will you prevent commercial range equipment failure before it happens, but you won’t be caught off guard and lose a day of work because the oven stopped heating.

6. Find a Safe Spot for Storage- Your commercial range has many uses, but storage is not one of them. Keep miscellaneous cooking items and supplies away from the main cooking area, as this creates a fire hazard. Instead find a container or section of the kitchen that still provides easy access, but is also safe.

7. Take lunch breaks outside the kitchen- Its goes without saying that staff meals should be eaten outside the proximity of the kitchen. Not only will this reduce potential messiness, but it will also prevent accidences occurring from cold liquids from a drink dripping onto a hot surface, and potentially splashing hot oil around.

8. Prevent Flammability Disasters- Leaving flammable liquids and supplies near your range is a gamble you don’t want to make. Create a separate area far away from a heat source to not only stay safe, but to follow health code rules.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tips For Buying Restaurant Equipment

If you’re in the market for restaurant-grade equipment, then chances are you know prices don’t come cheap. Kitchen equipment may cost thousands of dollars and be a sizable, long term investment—remember that your purchasing decisions now will determine what equipment you still utilize in your restaurant many years to come. Here are 5 quick tips to better prepare for making the right purchasing decisions:

Research According to Your Needs: 

So you’ve found great kitchen equipment at what seems to be a good price.  You may be tempted to make a purchase right then and there, but first ask yourself—“Do I need it?” Think about the capacity limitations of your kitchen environment, as well as if the unit you are considering can perform various functions to better minimize future costs.

Stay Away From Residential-Grade Equipment:

There is a reason why health departments only want commercial grade equipment used in commercial kitchens—and that is because the equipment is simply made better. Compared to residential grade equipment, commercial-grade means higher quality, easier to clean, and lasting durability. If you have some wiggle room in your budget, give commercial-grade equipment a high budget priority.

Purchase New Equipment:

Resist the urge to lowball an offer for cheaper, used kitchen equipment. Used equipment components are already subject to wear and tear, and may end up costing more if faulty components require replacing. Additionally, purchasing new equipment comes with a warranty to guarantee a predictable time period of component support. There is nothing worse than spending a large amount of money on a defective item, so make sure your initial purchase is worth it.

Create A Budget That Makes Sense:

While it may be tempting to buy the most expensive, highest quality piece of equipment available, it also makes sense to stick to a realistic budget plan. Don’t overspend and regret not being able to buy the equipment necessities.

Check Warranty Information:

Make sure to understand what is covered in an included warranty. Knowing the details of a product’s warranty may be the tipping point that favors one brand of equipment over another. Be wary of manufacturers that offer cheap equipment, but have bad reputations when it comes to honoring the warranty. Do your research and make sure a manufacturer brand can be trusted before handing them the up-front cash

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

5 Pointers For Commercial Oven Range Maintenance & Cleaning

Commercial range equipment is one of the more widely used pieces of equipment in the kitchen, coming in many different models and configurations. Top configurations such as French tops or griddle tops need their own special care to properly maintain. Proper care and cleaning is a necessity to ensure that your oven equipment gets its full lifespan of usability.

Here are some pointers below to ensure that you are completing the full cleaning and maintenance procedure. Before you start remember to shut down all commercial equipment and let everything cool down to reduce any burn risks.
commercial oven cleaning

1. Clean spills immediately: Spills will occasionally happen, and it’s best to get them under control and wiped up when they occur. This also helps prevent any excess food or liquid from cooking on the range top, unless the gas range light has been smothered- in that case simply clean off the burners before relighting.

2. Clean inside the oven: Try and get inside the oven base to clean every 3 to 4 weeks. Use standard cleaning cloth with soap on a metal interior, and keep an oven cleaner on hand for the porcelain variety.

3. Monitor flame or electric heaters: Get into the habit of checking the individual burner heads to see if the flame appears as a steady blue color. A yellow or white color indicates that the shutter needs to be slightly opened to allow more air to reach the burner. A jumpy flame requires an adjustment to the flame shutter. If there is no flame at all then there is a possibility of a clogged port that needs cleaning.

4. Clean Top Configuration: Hot tops require a simply wipe with a cleaning cloth to remove excess food, with a layer of oil applied afterwards to prevent future rust. French tops should be monitored while cooking to remove excess food, and then wiped down with a wash cloth at the end of the cooking session. Griddle tops require a grill brick to scrape away excess food, as well as a degreasing session. Open gas burners should have their grates taken out and cleaned, while the ports should be cleaned with a wire brush. Remember that a clogged port will result in the flame not properly appearing, so make sure everything is checked before placing back in place.

5. Clean off the Scrape Tray: When cooking with certain tops, use a scraper or wash cloth to remove spills and excess food. Take care of spills as they occurs to ensure a clean cooking surface and to prevent earlier food flavor from getting in to the next batch. The last step of the day should be to wipe down the whole griddle after applying hot water.

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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tips For Cleaning Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment

Stainless steel is often times the preferred material for restaurant appliances and equipment due to its durable nature. Stainless steel is also much easier to clean, which makes it the perfect material operating an efficient commercial kitchen. Certain grades of stainless steel also have the ability to resist bacteria.  Stainless steel is an investment for any restaurant, and it’s important that it gets taken care of and maintained properly. If stainless steel isn’t cleaned properly it will corrode just like any other metal material.

Stainless steel is coated with a layer of chromium, which reacts with air to make the hard surface that is able to resist stains and corrosion. Frequent cleaning of stainless steel is necessary because anything that can damage or interfere with the air/chromium reaction (ex: dirt, oil) will then cause the material to stain, rust, or corrode. Luckily, chromium can never wear away on stainless steel, so there is no such thing as cleaning it too much. Frequent cleaning is necessary to prevent this. Follow these tips to ensure your stainless steel stays in top shape!

Wipe with the finish: It’s common for some stainless steel applications to have a brushed finish or grain. When cleaning these surfaces, it’s important to go with the grain, as scrubbing against it can damage the finish.

Clean spills immediately: Any spilled food or liquid should be wiped from the stainless steel surface immediately, especially acidic foods. If spills are left too long, the chromium layer can be damaged. Cleaning upon spilling also makes it easier to clean later on, as the food will not dry or bake onto the surface.

Rinse After Cleaning: If left for a long period of time, residual soap or detergent can damage the stainless steel surface. It’s important to rinse your stainless steel restaurant equipment with clean water using a damp cloth after cleaning.

Dry Quickly: Water spots left behind from hard water are another element that can do damage to a stainless steel finish, it’s important to dry your surface immediately after cleaning to ensure water spots do not form.

Buying stainless steel restaurant equipment is definitely an investment, but can be very worth it in the long run. Be sure to take care of your investment by maintaining all of your stainless steel surfaces on a consistent basis. Also, be sure to never use chlorine products, steel wool, or abrasive sponges when doing your cleaning.

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