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Top Five Things To Consider Before Ordering Buffet Equipment

Top Five Things To Consider Before Ordering Buffet Equipment


Setting up a new buffet or modernizing an existing one usually starts with a little research into the different equipment available (spoiler, there are quite a few options). But investing in new equipment should be done with great care and consideration for both your immediate and future needs. So, in addition to reading up on potential solutions, you’ll also want to carefully consider these top five things before taking the purchasing plunge.

1. Buffet service style and application

Before you purchase equipment for your buffet, it’s important to think about the type of buffet you’re offering (or plan to offer). Do you have a full-service restaurant with the occasional weekend breakfast buffet or one-off catering event? Or are you a buffet-only operation that’s 100% committed to the service format? Whatever the case, understanding the style and application of your buffet will inform the type of buffet equipment you need in order to make it a success.

For example, suppose you only offer the occasional buffet, or you know you’ll need to move your buffet equipment around to accommodate multiple dayparts; you should consider portable buffet equipment, so it’s easy to move from location to location. The versatility of these units means you can easily set up your buffet exactly how you need it, without having to commit to a permanent location. And here’s the best part; any unused portable equipment can go back into storage whenever it’s not in use, so you can clear up additional space — which leads us to our next point.

2. Available space within your operation

Once you've thought through the service style and applications for your buffet, it's time to look at the amount of space you have open for new equipment. Carefully measure your buffet area and gather the specifications for any desired equipment to see what will fit and in what configuration. Getting the layout right might mean employing some creative critical-thinking skills (it can be a real puzzle). Thankfully, there are many types, shapes and sizes of buffet equipment available, so you’re sure to find a solution that works for your unique space — no matter how small it may be.

If you are working with a buffet area that’s on the smaller side, a combination of drop-in solutions and portable buffet equipment could be your answer. Utilizing these two equipment types can add flexibility to your space. This way, if you have a particularly popular daypart, day of the week or menu item, you can pull in your portable buffet equipment to supplement your more permanent equipment and meet demand.

3. Electricity and regulations

In addition to assessing the amount of space within your establishment, there are other details to take into account when acquiring new equipment. For starters, check out the location of your power outlets. Both permanent and portable buffet equipment need an easily accessible power source. As a quick tip, outlets installed within the floor or overhead can increase convenience and eliminate tripping hazards. Furthermore, be sure you know the voltage and amperage your building/circuit can support so that you can purchase the right equipment (learn more about that here).

Regulations and codes also come into play when looking at new equipment. Commercial kitchen units need to meet certain standards for sanitation and safety. Look for buffet equipment certified by a reputable organization such as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or comparable. Further, check in with your local health department for any other guidance on regulations. Rules can change and staying up to speed on the latest requirements can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

4. Aesthetics of your operation

No question, the look and feel of your operation matters. Whether you offer a family-friendly buffet or a high-end seafood smorgasbord, the equipment you choose helps tell the story you want. Do you want to communicate cleanliness and a modern decor to the hungry students coming through your cafeteria line? Stainless steel buffet solutions like a heated well or portable buffet warmer might be the ticket.

At the same time, some establishments want to tell a different kind of story. A beautiful heated or cold shelf made with attractive materials like glass or simulated stone can help convey a more sophisticated, elevated look. Or do you purely want something that points to your incredible buffet foods? Hatco offers a solution that is virtually invisible. The MaskeradeTM Undercounter Induction Warmer can be mounted under a variety of countertop materials and supplies heat to almost any magnetic chafing dish your operation desires. Get the right kind of equipment — and you can easily gain the look your operation is after.

5. Return on investment

It’s no question that solid financial decisions are often the difference between the success and failure of a business. That’s why when considering commercial kitchen equipment, price is often one of the first things operations look at. While important, the cost of the equipment isn’t the only factor you should be thinking about. To ensure you get the greatest return on investment (ROI), you need to think beyond the price tag.

Let’s say your stainless steel cold well breaks down. You’ve got some decisions to make. If you need to replace it quickly, you might be tempted to scoop up whichever cold well provides the lowest ticket price. And while the least expensive unit might be the best option for you, there’s more to consider than just the initial monetary investment. Often, well-crafted equipment with quality parts means less maintenance and a longer equipment lifespan. So while the price of equipment factors in, the integrity of each unit is also vital to maximizing your return on investment. Take your time, explore all your options and make the best choices for a sound investment.

The best results for your buffet.

There are many things to think about before purchasing new equipment for your buffet operation. Being mindful of the different considerations described above can help bring the best results to your purchasing process. Still deciding which buffet solution is right for you? Check out our interactive decision map today.

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