Wells may be on their way out for the foreseeable future, as restaurants steer clear of shared food scenarios in an effort to keep guests safe. But prior to the pandemic, wells were the go-to option for quick service operations across a range of foodservice sectors. No surprise there, right? They made quick and convenient self-service possible for time-crunched customers, and they enabled foodservice operators to cut down on sky-high labor costs. So it’s no wonder restaurants aren’t ready to eighty-six their wells.
The good news is, food operators don’t have to let their wells fall by the wayside in the wake of COVID-19. With the right modifications, they can convert them into shelves (and back again), retain their self-service sales, and protect their guests from exposure now, into the post-pandemic era, and beyond.
The question is, how do foodservice operators turn their heated wells into shelves? The Hatco heated well cover is the hero they’ve been waiting for. Designed to be placed directly on top of Modular/Ganged Heated Wells, they create a heated space to shelve pre-packaged, preheated food products. So foodservice operators can serve up a safer version of the oh-so-popular breakfast buffet, but instead of bacon and eggs, their guests can grab a prepackaged breakfast sandwich and go. Of course this means they’ll have to make some menu changes, but they’ll make use of valuable buffet real estate, boost their sales and most of all, keep guests safe. But the benefits don’t end there. Heated well covers are low maintenance, easy to clean, and easy to service. And, once the pandemic days have passed (fingers crossed), you can easily convert these heated shelves back into self-serve heated wells.
Beyond the heated well covers, foodservice operators should consider if they need additional accessories for their hot bars and buffets. For example, if they’re adding hot food merchandisers, they can look for breath protectors, additional side panels, sneeze guards or doors that are available as add-ons in the checkout process. To play it safe, operators should check out the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) guidelines to ensure they’re compliant.
Tweak the temperature
While well covers are the way to repurpose heated wells, there’s a quick fix for converting cold wells too. And what’s more? The solution is super-duper easy and versatile — it works for the cold mode on hot and cold wells too. Once foodservice operators have made the necessary menu adjustments, they can simply tweak their cold well temperatures to ensure they’re safe for prepackaged and prechilled items. So even though salad bars aren’t really happenin’ right now, operators can still offer customers fast and fresh options by serving them in appropriately chilled wells. And, as with heated wells, once life returns to normal, this versatile solution allows operators to easily revert back to self-serve cold wells.
In addition to regulating the temperature of their cold wells, foodservice operators should make sure all of their compliance bases are covered. They should sanitize them more frequently, limit access and install breath protectors and barriers as needed. And they should stick to individually packaged items, such as premade entrees, meal kits, grocery items and condiments.
Need to step up your heated shelving space?
Once foodservice operators are done pandemic-proofing their wells by transforming them into shelves, they should consider adding extra shelving space due to the increased demand for carry-out. Don’t worry, we’ve got them covered there too. We’ve designed our heated shelving units with carry-out in mind.