The hot weather is upon us and summer is right behind it, meaning many restaurants are preparing for the busy season ahead. With the sun out late into the evening, schools on summer holidays and spirits at an all-round high, many people choose to dine out more in the summer months with family and friends.
As such, it is important that restaurant owners prepare for this upcoming business, not only by reviewing their seasonal menu and ensuring their decor is up to scratch, but also by planning to ensure both their customers’ and their staff’s comfort.
Part of the conscious preparation you should be taking to make sure that your restaurant is summer ready is keeping on top of your air conditioning and refrigeration units, since issues with these are a pain at any time of year, but more so in the summer. In this article, we will discuss the importance of having high-quality, functioning air conditioning and refrigeration systems in place in your restaurant’s dining area and kitchen.
The Dining Area
What & Why?
Part of what makes a successful restaurant isn’t just ensuring that your customers are satisfied with the quality of your food and the efficiency of your service, but it is just as important that you ensure they are comfortable in the surrounding environment. Being unhappy or uncomfortable with their surroundings can really distract them from their food and ruin their dining experience.
This is why it’s a smart move for you to invest in high-quality air conditioning in your indoor dining areas. In the summer months, the UK heat should not be underestimated – the humidity doesn’t hesitate to cling to your skin and is hard to ignore (you want your customers to be reading your menu, not fanning themselves with it!). By having a functioning air conditioning system, you will be able to set a constant temperature that keeps your guests cool and comfortable.
The same benefit applies to your waiting staff, who are constantly busy on their feet and moving around, meaning some aircon would be very much appreciated and allow them to stay more comfortable so that they can continue to carry out their job efficiently.
Another benefit of aircon installation is that it filters the air. Chances are that a high number of both your employees and customers suffer from pollen allergies, but an air conditioning unit is able to filter these irritants from the air and prevent any allergy sufferers from being irritated by these whilst in your restaurant.
You’ll be glad to know that they also reduce the number of insects entering your restaurant such as mosquitos and flies, since they prefer warmer, damper conditions as opposed to cold dry air. This allows your customers to enjoy their meals without the worry of these insects flying around their food and disturbing them, which is especially useful considering that summer is the season that these are usually more prevalent and active.
Before you get an aircon installation in your restaurant, you will first need a site survey to assess the size of your dining space, in order to then determine the cooling and power needs that your restaurant will require for the aircon to be effective.
Larger spaces will typically require more air conditioning units than smaller areas, and it is also important that the right size of unit is installed to avoid higher energy bills. A professional technician will be able to work all this out for you.
They will then assess the building’s position, since this can have an effect on its cooling capabilities, as well as assess the internal processes that may affect the ambient temperature. In turn, these will allow the technician to select a unit that is appropriate for your space and reduce the likelihood of wasted energy.
The final steps are to install proper duct installation, then install the aircon unit itself. Once this has been installed, the temperature will be set and a final check will be carried out to test that it is working okay and assess the machine’s quality. You will also be guided on how to operate the system and informed on the expected maintenance frequency that will be required for your specific unit.
What & Why?
If there’s anyone who rarely gets respite from the heat in the summer months, it’s chefs. That’s life working in the kitchen for you – fast paced, under pressure and hot. With the generated heat of multiple people working around each other at once, and ovens and hobs and grills constantly on the go, powerful fridges are imperative in a commercial kitchen.
Many reputable restaurants typically use fresh ingredients in their meals, so it is important that these perishable food items are kept chilled or frozen to ensure that they stay fresher and safe to consume for longer, as well as prevent bacterial growth. This also allows for chefs to pre-prepare aspects of certain meals and store these ready for service hours, which helps to save them time and work more efficiently.
As effective as commercial refrigerators are, a cold room can be an even more useful and effective feature in your restaurant’s kitchen. Walk-in cold rooms offer a plethora of benefits to restaurants, with the chefs and kitchen staff especially being able to appreciate their usefulness.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of a cold room is the space that it provides. Rather than being limited to a number of shelves in a fridge (or even multiple fridges), a cold room offers large shelving space for all your mixed produce along with space to move around between these.
Unless your restaurant exclusively serves vegan food, then you will likely have a variety of food types that need to be kept chilled, such as dairy, meat and fresh produce; however, these cannot be mixed for hygiene reasons. In a cold room, there is space to store all of these ingredients whilst allowing them to have their own dedicated areas – which keeps things clearly organised and makes them much easier to find, in turn improving efficiency for your chefs. This also saves you the need to have separate fridges for separate food categories.
These are also much more efficient than fridges, especially when you have lots of food to keep cool. In the hot weather, food will spoil much quicker, so it is crucial to keep it at the necessary ambient temperature. When you have lots of food filling up a fridge, then it has to work harder to keep everything sufficiently cold, which really adds up on your energy bills. On top of that, constantly opening fridge doors lets a lot of this cold air out, making it have to work even harder than it already is.
Cold rooms are able to provide more consistent temperatures and are also insulated, meaning they have the benefit of being both easily accessible and effectively energy efficient when it comes to keeping your food chilled. Furthermore, though unlikely, should you experience some sort of electrical fault or power cut, the sturdy insulation of a cold room will still protect your food from spoiling whilst the issue is being fixed, as this allows them to stay colder for longer.
When planning to have a cold room installed in your restaurant kitchen, there are a number of considerations that you should make and communicate to the manufacturers installing your cold room for you.
Logically, the first step is to consider how much space you have available and determine whether or not this will be sufficient enough to A, install a cold room, and B, be spacious enough to warrant having one. If the main reason you’d look to get a cold room is because of the space it offers, then it may not be a worthwhile investment if you only have the available space for one that doesn’t offer much more storage than your fridges do. If this is the case, then you benefit from fridge hire, instead.
Next, think about the design of your cold room. Think about what you will be storing in it, what ingredients are often used the most and where is the most practical for these to be situated. This will help the manufacturer design a reliable modular cold room that matches your specific needs.
Lastly, consider scalability in regards to the future of your business. If you have plans to grow your business and expand your restaurant in the near future, then bear this in mind when designing your cold room so that you have the space for any additional food storage.
Aircon Installation & Fridge Hire in Somerset
Do you own a restaurant in the West Country? If so, you’re likely to be popular this summer, with people flocking to the countryside for their weekend getaways and family holidays – of course, they’ll want to enjoy a hearty meal or two just as much as the locals will!
Get your restaurant summer ready and prepared for your plentiful customers by ensuring that you have sufficient air conditioning and refrigeration with the help of Ian Hobbs Technical Services. We offer both air conditioning and cold room installation, as well as fridge hire, in Somerset and the surrounding area.
We understand the pressure involved when working in a fast-paced kitchen and food service environment, which is why you should let us help you to ensure that your business runs smoothly and your customers leave your restaurant satisfied with their whole dining experience.
Don’t hesitate to contact us today to find out more about our services and get tailored advice and guidance from our team.