Space-conscious Refrigeration Buyers' Guide
Commercial refrigerators are a vital part of any foodservice operation, providing necessary preservation of product behind-the-scenes and displaying chilled products to customers in the front of house. When you're adding refrigeration space in small floorplans, it's important to know which refrigeration options, including type and size, would benefit your business most before investing in one.
Using Counter Space
If you want to add refrigeration without giving up any existing counter space, you should consider adding an undercounter refrigerator or back-bar cooler. Undercounter refrigerators are designed to fit under an existing counter, so they can be added easily into your configuration. This is ideal if you want to add more refrigeration capacity to your kitchen but don't want to alter your workflow. Back-bar coolers are a popular choice for bars and restaurants that sell bottled or canned products. They are also designed to fit under counters and are available in pass-thru versions, which means employees can stock from one side and customers can choose their own products from the other.
Adding Additional Units
If you have the room to add an additional unit in your kitchen, worktop refrigerators are meant to function as freestanding workspaces. Another type of freestanding workspace called chef bases, or equipment stands, also have a refrigerated base that provides additional cold storage. Chef bases can be used to hold countertop commercial equipment and are a more heavy-duty option than worktop refrigerators. Adding either of these commercial refrigerators will give employees additional prep space, and most of these units are on casters, which means they can easily be rearranged or moved out of the way.
Undercounter refrigerators, back-bar coolers, refrigerated work tables, and chef bases take up horizontal space instead of vertical space, and the versatility they provide by having usable surfaces can be an asset in a small, behind-the-scenes space.
Using Vertical Space
If you want to take advantage of available vertical space in your kitchen, a reach-in refrigerator might be a good option. This type of commercial refrigerator is commonly available in 27 inches wide, but can be as slim as 24 inches. Some of them will have two sections or one section with two doors made out of either glass or stainless steel. This gives you additional flexibility in how you can use these units.
If you're looking for a commercial refrigerator that will add merchandising options to the front-of-house, consider investing in a refrigerated display case, deli case, or open-air cooler. Like reach-in refrigerators, refrigerated display cases take up vertical space instead of horizontal space, with the slimmest models measuring at just 22 inches wide. Deli cases and open-air coolers will generally take up more horizontal space, but some deli cases are shorter than standard countertop height. Deli cases and open-air coolers have multiple levels and layouts available, which gives you the freedom to create unique eye-catching displays. These commercial coolers are designed to offer items like bottled beverages, pre-packaged meals, or fresh produce, and are commonly used in convenience stores or grab-and-go scenarios.
Countertop refrigerators are a great solution for businesses that don't have room for full-sized refrigeration units but might have available countertop space. These commercial refrigerators can be very compact at just 17 inches wide and are available as self-serve or pass-thru units. Countertop refrigerators can be utilized for beverages, snacks and meals, or desserts.
Another compact commercial refrigeration option is a drop-in cooler, which would be built into an existing countertop space. These commercial coolers can be as small as 12 inches wide and 27 inches long, which lets you offer chilled beverages or food without crowding your countertops or workspace.