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5 Benefits of Industrial Drying Racks

Benefits of Industrial Drying Racks

It’s peak hour at a restaurant, they are hauling out plate after plate of delicious appetizers, entrees, and desserts. You walk into the bustling restaurant with smiling faces and chatter coming from every table. The servers are delivering drinks and food while checking in with customers. The hostess brings your group to a table, you all take a look at your menu and decide on your main dishes. Your server swiftly shifts from the neighboring table to yours to take everyone’s orders. With drinks in hand, time passes quickly and you suddenly see your food nearing the table. It’s time to eat. Let’s pause now. This is what the front-of-the-house looks like, happy customers and attentive staff, but let’s venture back into the kitchen at this same moment. 

 

The kitchen consists of laughter and chatter. Chefs are plating dishes and servers are coming in and out to deliver plates. As tables are finished, the bussing team is sure to clear tables quickly and efficiently to allow the next group to have a seat. All of the dirty plates, bowls, flatware, and glasses are being dumped into the back of the kitchen near the washing sink. These dishes are piling up as service continues to speed up and the bussing team does not have the capacity to clean and dry all of the dishes while still tending to tables. Some dishes have been washed but are in piles waiting to be dried while the one side of the sink has a heaping stack of dirty dishes. How can this problem be solved? Industrial drying racks can be the ideal solution.

Purpose of Industrial Drying Racks:

These drying racks are built for efficient and convenient drying that also provide storage all in one. Having to dry each item by hand takes lots of labor and time. Drying racks allow you to reduce the time your team puts into washing and drying dishes. Once a dish has been washed, it can simply be put on the drying rack to air dry on its own. Not only do these industrial drying racks serve as a place to allow airflow around dishes, but it also serves as a storage. Your trays, pans, and dome lids can remain situated on their drying rack until the next day’s service begins. The convenience these carts offer benefits the entire back-of-the-house staff and can save valuable time, especially in the current labor crunch the foodservice industry is experiencing. Below we will outline the main features and benefits drying racks offer. 

Efficiency:

Eliminating the need for human labor in one portion of the washing process saves a lot of time for staff. When you only need to run your dishes through the commercial dishwasher and no longer need to dry each item, the time it takes to get through post-meal dishes can be reduced tremendously. After dishes come out of the dishwasher, they can quickly be placed onto drying racks and let time do the drying for you. 

 

Not only does this help eliminate the time it takes to wash dishes, it also provides mobile storage that can be easily moved out of the way when a drying rack is full. Drying racks help ease the strain on your staff. In AHF’s recent study, the top three concerns for their members were

  • Staffing
  • Training, development and employee engagement 
  • Budget financials 

 

While a drying rack can not solve all of the main concerns in the foodservice industry, it can help  staff as they are able to remove one of the manual steps in their back-of-the-house operations. Industrial drying racks are also budget friendly as they offer a drying solution as well as a mobile storage solution.

Mobility: 

Being able to move your storage around can make a world of difference in the foodservice industry. Dishes, trays or pans that are not needed at the moment can be pushed out of the way to offer up more space creating better flow within your kitchen. In one instance you may need the drying rack right next to the sink or dishwasher to quickly load clean items onto the rack, but as soon as that rack is full it can easily be transferred to a storage space. 

Lakeside drying racks come with No-Mark polyurethane casters that help offer a smooth ride to keep items in place during transit. Easy maneuverability within all aspects of kitchen operations allow you to keep up with your fast paced back-of-the-house operations.

Convenience:

As we have discussed above, Lakeside drying racks are multifunctional by offering your dishes not only a place to dry, but also a place to house them while they are not in use. GlobeNewsWire predicts that foodservice operators are “shifting toward smaller-sized kitchen equipment to optimize their space and perform multiple functions at the same time.” Multifunctional equipment is going to be the new name of the game in the years to come as it offers the same functions which means less pieces of equipment are needed to serve the same functions. Lakeside drying racks are not only a multifunctional investment, but also an investment that will last for many years to come. 

Durability:

With Lakeside drying racks being constructed from stainless steel, the lifespan of these racks spreads far and wide as they are able to serve a foodservice operation for generations. Investing in equipment that will only last 5-10 years may be a quick solution, but not a long term solution. Thinking down the line is crucial in the foodservice industry and investing in the right equipment will set your operations up for success for years to come. 

Lakeside racks are made from a 14-gauge stainless steel frame and an “L” support to increase the stability of the cart and prevent accidents. The stainless steel base ensures superior strength and balance so your rack is sure to hold up to the task. The stainless steel construction also provides for easy cleaning and sanitizing which helps extend its lifespan.

Sanitation:

Ensuring your dishes remain mold free is crucial as food-safety is the number one priority when serving food to customers, patients, guests, students, or staff. Drying racks allow items to be spread out which reduces the risk of mold and bacteria growth. Wet nesting your trays or pans can lead to an unwanted surprise of mold the next time you use them. Lakeside drying racks help reduce the potential for mold with dividers on the rack as well as completely open construction. Some of our models have drain holes to help ensure faster draining while also reducing the possibility for mold build-up. 

Investing in an industrial drying rack may seem daunting at first, but the benefits they offer can help improve back-of-the-house efficiency in various ways. Lakeside drying racks are built to last and offer a durable solution that will stand up to your heaviest load of dishes. Are you ready to explore what drying rack will work best for your operations?

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The Importance of Ergonomics in Tray Dispensers

Ergonomic Tray Dispensers

 

Finding the needed staffing for any foodservice operation is currently very challenging. Keeping them there is an entirely different issue. One of the best ways to retain valuable team members is to create working conditions that make the job easier. By finding solutions that help workers do their jobs with less stress and strain, more workers will be interested in staying on the job. That, in turn, brings in new talent and helps retain existing staff simultaneously.

For foodservice operations where serving lines are part of the equation, considering tray dispensers can be an easy win with staff, eliminating the need for constant shuttling of trays from the back of the house to the serving area. While tray dispenser ergonomics is not something everyone thinks about, the workers who use these dispensers will certainly notice the difference. Here's why:

How Do Ergonomic Tray Dispensers Work?

For an ergonomic tray dispenser to work correctly, it requires spring tension that will raise the trays to the proper height for dispensing. Adjusting the height level is extremely easy, and workers can attach and detach springs as they need to make sure the dispenser is at the right height. It only takes a moment to make adjustments, and once the height is accurate, it will remain where it was placed until springs are attached or detached again.

There are several sizes and styles of ergonomic tray dispensers to choose from, allowing workers to have all the space they need for trays while still maneuvering the units through the kitchen and dining areas with ease. Choosing an open design can make loading and unloading easier, and there are cantilevered options that can also meet foodservice needs. The right ergonomic tray dispenser gives workers convenience.

Ergonomic tray dispensers

How Do Ergonomics in Tray Dispensers Help Workers?

By considering ergonomics in tray dispensers, operators minimize the need to reach beyond a person's capacity -- literally. This helps staff not only when loading units, but also when unloading trays, cleaning the dispenser, and preparing the tray dispenser for a foodservice event. Whether workers use the tray dispenser daily or it is needed infrequently, making sure trays can be easily accessed with a dispenser that requires little maintenance is a great way to show support for staff.

With adjustable tray dispensers, it's also easier to accommodate a wider range of physical abilities, making the pool of potential applicants larger because the physical stresses of the job will be easier. In addition, the chance of workplace injury will also be reduced. That benefits the workers who are operating the tray dispenser but also the company that employs those workers and needs them to be healthy and available for foodservice events.

Ergonomic Tray Dispensers

Do Ergonomics Matter to Customers?

Customers can also appreciate the value of ergonomics when it comes to tray dispensers. As they grab trays for use, they will not need to bend and stretch in ways that might not be comfortable for them. And because trays are literally the first thing a guest will encounter, they will set the tone for the entire dining experience. Whether they are in the hospital cafeteria on their lunch break, at school getting their education, or in a corporate setting at a banquet or catered event, being able to easily reach a tray and move on with their dining experience can make a big difference in their level of comfort.

Ergonomic Tray Dispensers

From workers to customers, and anyone who uses or interacts with tray dispensers, ergonomics have value. Adjustable tray dispensers are more convenient, and they reduce the chances of injury and discomfort for anyone who loads or unloads them, as well as anyone reaching for trays during their dining experience.

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3 Ways to Experience ROI with a Tray Dispenser

Tray dispenser ROI

Deciding on whether or not to invest in foodservice equipment can be a complicated calculation of the benefits and overall return on investment. This is true for ovens, ranges, and refrigeration, and it's true for tray dispensers, as well. Whether you're a corporate dining facility, a hospital cafeteria, or something in between, the formula is relatively simple. Will the benefits of a tray dispenser weigh more than the initial cost of purchasing one? Let's break down three benefits that factor into determining the return on investment of tray dispensers.

A Tray Dispenser Frees Up Back-Of-The-House Workers

It's been well documented that we're in the midst of The Great Recession, and one of the byproducts of our current situation is that foodservice operators are finding it very difficult to hire and retain staff. The more an operator can make labor more efficient, the easier it will be to alleviate staffing issues.

Among the largest benefits of tray dispensers are the freedom staff members will experience from not needing to run stacks of trays to the serving line. The back of the house can focus on food preparation, and the serving staff can focus on the guest experience. Not only are the stacks of trays heavy and cumbersome, but carrying them through crowded areas can pose a risk of harm to the workers and others.

With a tray dispenser, the need for carrying trays is eliminated, and the trays will not pile up in the back of the house, either. Everything can move more smoothly and efficiently, and it will be easier to achieve operational goals. There are various types of dispensers, including those that also hold flatware, so it's important to consider all factors when determining which tray dispenser will work best.

Tray dispenser

Get More Shelf Space With a Tray Dispenser

Investing in a tray dispenser provides the opportunity to free up shelf space that is currently taken up by stacks of trays. Those trays will be transferred to a mobile cart, and the resulting shelf space can be used for other things, such as merchandising other foods and beverages that will enhance profits. The dispenser also allows for storing trays in a manner that is both sanitary and safe, so they are ready to be used when needed.

When trays are stored on shelves, they can collect dust, take up too much space, and be in the way of other items that also need space. A tray dispenser solves those issues conveniently and provides a company with a specific place to store trays in a neat and orderly fashion. Having a designated location for those trays makes it easier to keep back-of-house areas organized and to help workers handle foodservice operations faster and with fewer concerns.

Tray dispensers

Buying a Tray Dispenser Heightens Mobility

The mobility that comes from buying a tray dispenser is extremely important. Being able to quickly move trays from one location to the next means it takes less time for workers to set up an event or prepare for any other foodservice operations. From feeding hungry school children to prepping a corporate banquet, foodservice takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Being more mobile makes that work faster, and allows workers to be more efficient at setup and take-down no matter the frequency of the event.

Depending on the layout of the space and the type of foodservice needs a company or organization has, the location where food is served may not be directly adjacent to the food prep area. Being mobile in those cases is vital to making sure trays reach their intended destination. There will not be a need to carry heavy trays back and forth or struggle with the time limits for setting up and removing the food and supplies when workers have the mobility that comes with a tray dispenser.

tray dispensers

Finding the right tray dispenser does not have to be difficult. There are several types and designs to choose from, so any company can locate the dispensers that work for their needs. The number of trays needed, the layout of the space where the dispenser will be used, and the options for storing it and the trays when not in use all matter, to make the right decision.

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A Close Look at the Compact Mart Cart

In so many settings, it's not practical or profitable to only sell food and beverages in one stationary spot. With a bit of creativity and the right tools in place, there's no need to limit service to one particular area, though. This blog will focus on one of those tools, the Lakeside Mart Cart, and we'll introduce you to the power of the Mart Cart, whether you're setting up a profitable breakfast cart or taking advantage of outdoor dining trends.

The Benefits of the Lakeside Mart Cart

It comes in two convenient sizes. 

The smaller mart cart size, which is a breeze to zip around, is the Lakeside 660 Compact Mart Cart for Mobile Food Operations. It measures just 28 1/4 x 49 x 72 1/4 inches. For even more bells and whistles, the Lakeside 68040 Compact Mart Cart with Full-Length Stainless Overshelf provides plenty of space at 27 1/2 x 60 x 70 inches. Either way, both compact carts provide plenty of space for food and beverages while efficiently and conveniently using space. The large stainless steel countertop work surface offers plenty of space for completing tasks.

They're designed to maximize portability.

Both sizes of compact mart carts provide next-level portability and are easy to maneuver into and out of spaces large and small including elevators, rooms, hallways, and kitchen areas. Features include easy-to-grab, ergonomic, vertical or horizontal handles on the side. There are also heavy-duty 5″ swivel casters to quickly move the cart from place to place. Better yet, both carts are lightweight yet sturdy. No need to be a racecar driver while steering and guiding either cart. Just move your point-of-sale and enjoy the profitability.

Speaking of profitability, stock the things that sell.

The sky is the limit when it comes to food and beverages that can find their way onto a Lakeside Mart Cart. It makes for an ideal breakfast on-the-go serving station, a snack bar, or beverage cart. Above the upper countertop is a storage area with multiple compartments that can hold a variety of items such as utensils, napkins, food packets, yogurt cups, tea bags, condiments, and more.

Create and customize Compact Mart Carts.

The adjustable height and slide-out stainless steel shelves allow the cart to customize its functionality for all sorts of easy configurations. It's even possible to remove shelves and replace them with optional insulated containers for holding hot and cold items. Soup, hot cocoa, lemonade, and fresh fruit salad have never tasted better or been easier to serve. The optional personalized merchandising front is an incredible way to add a logo, phrase, or design element. There is also plenty of space for accessories like utensils, napkins, plates, cups, ice, food containers, and a cash register.

Clean-up and maintenance are a snap.

Not just practical, both carts are also attractive and durable with a standard laminate exterior finish. For added design interest, custom laminate finishes are available. Both sizes of the Lakeside Mart Cart have a stainless steel interior that is easy to clean and sanitize. An excellent way to attract customers to any location is by offering a variety of food and beverages in an attractive, functional compact mart cart.

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How to Set Up a Profitable Breakfast Cart

Revenue Boosters for K12 Foodservice

As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but according to data, it's also the most profitable. These days, many restaurants and foodservice stations are discovering America's love affair with breakfast, which is why so many businesses are offering these dishes all day. But who says restaurants have to have all the fun? Breakfast carts enable other entities to serve customers their favorite dishes without a commercial kitchen. But, how is it possible? Let's break it down.

By the Numbers: Breakfast Sales in the United States

Although breakfast has always been popular in the US, it's taken off considerably since 2020. According to a 2021 survey, over half (62 percent) of Americans say that breakfast is their favorite meal of the day. More impressively, the vast majority (79 percent) of individuals say they've eaten breakfast for a different meal (i.e., lunch or dinner) at least a few times in the previous year.

As far as breakfast dishes, eggs take the top spot with 65 percent of the vote, followed closely by coffee at 58 percent and cereal at 56 percent. Overall, this data illustrates that Americans are hungry for breakfast and, more importantly, they love the staples. That said, many restaurants and foodservice establishments are getting creative with breakfast offerings, so now is the best time to invest in this meal.

The Advantages (and Challenges) of a Mobile Breakfast Cart

Restaurants have it the easiest when serving breakfast because they have the infrastructure to build a menu and handle orders. Even hospitality businesses have it easy since breakfast in hotels has been a staple for forever. However, other entities like colleges, corporations, and venues can take advantage of breakfast by using a mobile cart. Breakfast carts offer several benefits, such as:

Flexibility

A mobile cart can move to wherever the action is. For example, if there's a busy event, a venue can deploy carts to different areas to cater to guests. Similarly, colleges can post a cart in front of hot-spots so students can grab something on their way to class.

Affordability

Breakfast carts are designed for "grab-and-go" items and meals. So, a single attendant can manage the cart easily with minimal backup. Also, carts don't draw much power for refrigerated items, or businesses can use ice trays to keep products at the right temperature.

Versatility

It's easy to change the offerings on a breakfast cart since it doesn't necessarily have a menu. So, cart owners can swap out low-selling items for those that go like hotcakes, making the cart even more profitable.

Although these benefits are pretty substantial, running a cart has two drawbacks. First, restocking the cart can be challenging, especially if it's deployed in a high-traffic area. On busy mornings, the cart may run out of food quickly, leading to dissatisfied customers. The second downside is that it doesn't offer hot food. As we mentioned, eggs are the number one dish, so customers may not appreciate the limited selection.

How to Optimize a Cart for Profitable Breakfast Service

Since demand is so high, businesses can't afford to neglect the earning potential of a portable breakfast cart from Lakeside. Here are a few ways to make the cart even more accommodating to customers:

Use Fun Signage

Magnetic signs can draw the eye and entice customers to come check out the cart and its offerings.

Provide Plates and Utensils

Although a cart won't have hot food, businesses may offer dishes that require utensils (i.e., cereal). Providing these items on-site makes it easier for customers to eat on the go.

Savory vs. Sweet Breakfast

Some people prefer sweets for breakfast, such as cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, or doughnuts. Others may want savory dishes like breakfast sandwiches or bagels. Carts can either focus on one item or provide both to capture both types of customers.

Make Breakfast Carts More Profitable by Selecting the Right Cart

Lakeside offers a full range of serving cart solutions that are ideal for breakfast service. Check out some of our most popular options today.

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3 Ways to Boost Foodservice Revenue on College Campuses

Revenue Boosters for K12 Foodservice

College and university campuses are often spread over several acres in multiple collections of buildings. Students are typically in a hurry to get from one class to another, and the thought of having to waste precious time hunting down a quick bite or snack can be the difference between making it on time or being late.

For college and university foodservice directors, this presents an opportunity to be more profitable by considering a few important points. Knowing the characteristics of today’s college student combined with the current state of foodservice reveals three important ways that directors can boost foodservice revenue.

SERVE POPULAR FOODS & BEVERAGES

To start, C&U directors need to serve items students want to buy. This is a no-brainer. Either those popular food and beverage options are available on campus, or students will go off-campus to find them.

On the food side, popular culinary trends should be considered, as well as ethnic foods that speak to a wider range of students. Foods that are quick and easy to purchase and consume are also important, as college students rarely have time to sit and indulge for hours on end. For beverages, coffee kiosks can always be a profitable option. According to the National Library of Medicine, 92 percent of college students drink coffee, so C&U directors might as well make it easy for students to buy.

MAKE USE OF UNUSED SPACES

Because college and university campuses are often so large and spread out, that means there are typically underused spaces that can become profitable with just a little imagination and the right food serving equipment.

Consider creating or moving a point of service from one part of campus to another to maximize the potential of unused spaces. Areas to consider are spacious halls or corridors, outside walkways, around or near athletic centers, or outside of auditoriums. By looking at these spaces as points of sale and profit centers, directors can significantly increase revenue in areas of campus that are otherwise unused.

MAXIMIZE THE POWER OF LABOR

As we’re seeing across the foodservice industry, whether it’s on a college campus or even a fine dining restaurant, labor is a significant challenge for foodservice directors and operators. There’s a clear movement toward technologically driven foodservice complete with automation and streamlined processes. As it relates to food and beverage kiosks and serving areas on a college campus, it’s important to ensure those serving stations are easy to use, easy to clean, reliable, durable, and require the smallest amount of labor possible.

From grab-n-go food stations to coffee kiosks, Lakeside provides a full range of mobile foodservice solutions that create points of sale that are durable, reliable, and easy to operate. We invite you to explore our C&U foodservice solutions today.

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Inclusive Workplaces: ADA Compliant Cashier Stations

Inclusive Workplaces: ADA Compliant Cashier Stations

Today, any business owner understands the need to ensure the business remains compliant with ADA requirements. One common thing to consider is getting a convenient cashier station with the required height. In this post, we'll help you discover the ADA standards for your business. Ensuring every individual has equal access is crucial for all businesses. But what is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act affects practically all businesses with 15 or more full-time employees. The company can be online-only, public websites, or brick-and-mortar stores. Generally, the idea for these compliance rules is to ensure all public accommodations are accessible to all members of the public.

When it comes to retail and foodservice, countertops are a big consideration, as cashier counters should be long, wide, and short enough to allow employees and customers with disabilities to gain access to goods and services. It is common to find high sales and service counters that people in wheelchairs cannot reach. Therefore, modifying them to match the required standards is important.

ADA-compliant cashier stations need to be 36 inches wide and high to accommodate all shoppers and persons with disabilities. From a forward perspective, leave 12 inches of knee space below the counter to ensure anyone in it is comfortable and has easy mobility.

Equally important, locate the cashier counter in an area with a clear room with abundant space. The room space for the cashier counter should measure at least 30 inches by 48 inches. The clear floor allows for the free movement of wheelchairs and large appliances. There should be no clutter or obstructions that can present any danger in an accident.

Why Is ADA Compliance Important?

There are many reasons why a business should be ADA compliant. The top ones are:

  • The ADA is the law: the ADA is a law at the federal level and helps protect everyone with disabilities against discrimination. It helps to monitor businesses as they should comply with the typical requirements of accessible design, which means as long as you are operating a business in the US, the standards apply to you
  • You will gain and retain customers. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, one person in every five you meet has a form of disability. Thus, you will likely have some people with disabilities among your target customers.
  • Word of mouth advertising: Generally, the disability community is often tight-knit and sticks together. They are likely to encourage others to become your customers when you deliver exceptional customer service.
  • Tax write-offs and financial assistance: ADA creates standards and resources that help meet compliance goals. Being ADA compliant increases your chances of financial assistance and lowers the possibility of ADA violation.
  • It's the right thing to do. Doing whatever you can do to help a wider segment of the population is just a nice and kind way to act.

What Can Happen If A Business Is Not In Compliance?

Understanding the consequences of not complying with ADA rules will enable you to avoid penalties. They include:

  • It attracts huge fines. According to federal laws, a non-compliant business may pay up to $75,000 in fines for the first violation. Any additional ADA violations may go up to $150,000. These are direct penalties that you need to avoid by ensuring your business is ADA-approved.
  • Lawsuits by people with disabilities: If you don't offer adequate public accommodation, you expose your business to lawsuits, civil penalties, or personal injury issues from customers or employees.
  • Damage to your business reputation: This is perhaps the most financially damaging consequence if your business is not ADA compliant. You will lose reputation among your potential customers, meaning low sales and fewer customers.

It is essential to remain ADA compliant and serve your customers effectively. Here are Multiteria's ADA-compliant cashier stations that you can purchase today for your business.

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Strengthen Your Mobile Foodservice Operation with These Three Tips

Strengthen Your Mobile Foodservice Operation with These Three Tips

To run a successful mobile foodservice operation, you need to ask the right questions and select the right elements to boost your sales. Customer demands keep changing, and having the ability to move points of service can be rewarding for both customers and operators alike, especially if done correctly.

These are the top three tips to consider when building a successful mobile foodservice operation.

What Is Being Served?

The type of meals being served will almost certainly dictate how those meals are served -- and what's required to serve them. To start, it's critical to think about menu development as an overall objective of the operation, as well as how the menu will be received by customers. Both are important and will impact mobile foodservice strategies. Consider if you will require cold or hot food, from a cashier's station, or have ready-made meals.

  • Customers are more educated and have preferences. We live in an era where the customer is highly educated on food choices and preferences. Whether it's an exotic cuisine type or what constitutes healthy choices, today's diners know the difference.
  • Customers have technology. With mobile applications, the technological influence of foodservice goes well beyond delivery service. Technology is even impacting on-premise dining, as well, an this impacts menus.
  • There is no magic formula. A menu that's successful one year might lose favor in another. Menu development and the equipment used to serve it should be fluid and changeable.

Where Is It Being Served?

Mobile equipment is designed to move around a room or a property. It's important that serving equipment can stand up to whatever challenges are in the way, whether literally or figuratively. Make sure units can stand up to the rigors of transportation, and also make sure units can fit through any doors. Other location considerations are:

  • Can locations be moved to high-traffic areas with easy accessibility?
  • Is there enough space for equipment?
  • What type of flooring will units traverse?

What Does It Look Like?

Whether it's a high school cafeteria or a banquet buffet in a beautiful ballroom, aesthetics matter. Considering things like color pallets, trim options, and customer wraps will help enable a harmonious appearance in the operation. This will also help boost branding. Consider the following questions when determining what mobile foodservice equipment should look like:

  • Is there an overall aesthetic or appearance that needs to be considered?
  • Can mobile serving equipment help underscore the goals of the brand?
  • Does the service area need customized décor options?

Lakeside has a wide selection of Utility Carts that allow you to find the perfect solution for your mobile foodservice operations. Contact us today to discover the perfect cart for your facility.

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Hot Debate: Which is Better, Heated or Non Heated Plate Dispensers?

Hot Debate: Which is Better, Heated or Non-Heated Plate Dispensers?

To heat or not to heat. That's often the question foodservice operators face when they're looking to build out banquet serving lines, upgrade corporate cafeterias, or even enhance school foodservice capabilities in K-12 settings or on college campuses. And the debate is whether to offer plates that are heated or dispense them from a non-heated plate dispenser at ambient temperatures.

So, when should you use a heated plate dispenser? There are a handful of reasons that make the most sense as it relates to using a heated plate dispenser versus a non-heated option, and we'll walk through those one-by-one now.

Are you serving hot food?

Think about your own, personal dining experiences when plate dispensing was involved. Unless you're going to the salad bar, grabbing a cold plate and filling it with hot meats and vegetables can decrease the perception of the service. Research shows that using a heated plate dispenser can help elevate that perception, while at the same time keeping warm foods at temperatures that are more desirable for diners. Simply put, if you're serving hot foods, you probably don't want to serve them on ice-cold plates.

Are you serving food in a cold environment? 

Sometimes the ambient room temperatures might be cold or potentially unstable, which can then impact the temperatures of food being served. Serving lines might also exist in outside areas or spaces exposed to the elements. By using a heated plate dispenser, the potential for external temperatures to impact the temperature of foodservice is diminished.

Are you looking to save costs?

As you might expect, heated plate dispensers costs more than those without heating elements and the ability to warm china. That being said, saving on plate dispensers could actually wind up costing more if food quality or safety leads to food waste. If there's any potential for serving warm foods or serving foods when external temperatures could impact service, it's almost always advisable to choose a plate dispenser with heating elements. If plates will be used only for cold food service such as salad bars, an operation could probably get away with using a non-heated plate dispenser.

Plate Dispensers: Other Considerations

Plate dispenser options can also include mobile or countertop units. Moveable food dispensers are more ideal for buffets because they can be transferred quickly to any space. Countertop dispensers are more ideal for cafeterias and restaurants as they tend to be more stationary.

Adjust-A-Fit dispensers allow for multiple plate sizes to be dispensed from the unit. Need one side for salad plates and one side for hot food dishes? No problem! Adjust-A-Fit heated double-wall cabinets allow you to adjust the height and the temperature for both dispenser tubes individually. The easy, non-stick glide design ensures smooth dispensing of your bowl or plate of choice.

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Dishing Out Advice: How to Select a Plate Dispenser

Blog image with blue background and stacks of white plates in foreground

Plate dispensers are a critical component in a wide range of foodservice types. From hospitals and healthcare to hospitality and banquets, providing access to plating and tabletop can keep operations running smoothly for staff members.

So what’s an easy and effective way to distribute plates? A plate dispenser. And what are the most important things to look for and consider when choosing a plate dispenser? Let’s go through those factors one by one.

1.) Where are the plates dispensed?

This is a matter of mobility. Will plates be dispensed from a single location or will there be the need to move the plate dispenser around? For buffet lines in a banquet hall, for example, a mobile unit might be best as the serving line will likely change depending on the service. For cafeteria settings, a countertop stationary unit will likely meet challenges. To move or not to move, that is the first question.

2.) Is there a need for heat?

Hot food shouldn't be offset by chilled plates. Some plate dispensers include a heating element that keeps plates warm before they’re used in service. This is ideal when hot food is served or when there will be issues with temperature maintenance.

3.) What size plates will the unit hold?

When operators want flexibility with plate dispensing capabilities, it might make sense to consider units that provide for adjustable sizes. For example, if service includes both a salad and an entrée course, a plate dispenser that adjusts for both 7-inch plates and 10-inch plates can help provide much-needed versatility. What if china isn’t purchased yet or there’s a chance it could change in the future? Adjustable sizing can help in these situations, too. Likewise, standard dispensers are ideal when exact diameters are known or when china will remain consistent throughout the life of the unit.

4.) Does size matter?

It certainly does. Check with china manufacturers to determine variance to ensure a proper fit inside the plate dispenser unit. To calculate capacity, stack plates and compare with the capacity of the dispenser.

Looking for more information on plate dispensers to meet your unique challenges? Talk with an expert at Lakeside.