Although these cases are smaller than many other merchandisers, there are still several criteria to consider before purchasing one. A rotating display may offer a way to keep your pizza warm evenly, but you may not want customers to serve themselves from one. If you want to offer grab-and-go convenience, opt for a stationary unit with heated shelves. You may also choose the option of having pizzas bake inside the unit while others are displayed; there are models available that can offer that capability.
Pizza displays are designed with two rack types. Still or stationary merchandisers have shelves that do not spin. Models with rotating racks keep the merchandise turning to draw the attention of your customers and spread out heat more evenly. These have mechanisms that stop rotation when the door is opened. Spinning models use slightly more energy, but they also may furnish a more eye-catching display of the items for sale.
Capacity and Number of Levels
Most pizza cases have one to four levels that can each hold a pizza diameter of between 18 and 22 inches. Pizza displays with integrated ovens can bake one pizza at a time, in addition to merchandising several. Its capacity will be judged by how many display racks it has. Knowing the size of the pizzas you'll be serving and how many of each is critical to selecting the right unit.
Manual or Digital Controls
Controls for pizza displays may be manual or digital. Manual controls tend to be less expensive, but can be manipulated accidentally in high traffic areas where staff and customers might bump into the equipment. While more costly, digital controls provide more precise temperature control and are generally more simple to use.
Customers and employees may access the case either from a single side or a pass-thru. By using a single side unit, the customer would be served their pizza or other food items by an employee. Single side units may be more appropriate for selling pizza by the slice or in areas where the risk of customer burns may be higher. A pass thru model may be better suited for pre-packaged pizzas. This type of set-up wouldn't require an employee to man the station, because customers could serve themselves. The pass thru design could also increase the rate at which items could be replenished.
- Simply warming foods like pizza can dry those products over time. To reduce the drying effects of heat lamps and shelves, some units will offer humidity control. Those that do will have a reservoir for water that produces steam that must be filled routinely by an employee. Most will have an indicator warning when the water level is low, which helps prevent damage to the element and reminds the operator to refill.
- Most cases will have a signage area. This signage may come in one permanent design, or it may be customizable.
- Independent level controls let you set the temperature of each level individually to keep your foods at just the right temperature. That can be important if you're holding more than one type of product. Levels that are not used can be left unheated, reducing energy waste.
- Some models even come equipped with integral baking ovens which can help minimize the footprint in tight locations. The baking ovens tend to be drawer-type and are usually placed at the bottom of the pizza display case and the temperature of the oven may not be individually controlled.