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How to Improve Foodservice Efficiency by Moving More at Once

improve efficiency

Most of us have heard the expression it’s not what you do, it’s how you do it that counts. Although this saying offers good advice, it doesn’t tell the whole story. While being more efficient and productive can definitely give your foodservice operations a boost, knowing how to become more efficient by moving more at once will help your back-of-the-house operations by giving back time and energy to your staff. If you are looking for a way to increase productivity, it’s smart to take a look at your equipment right off the bat. Equipment plays a critical role in the evermoving and evolving foodservice industry. 

Utility carts carry the heavy load of many supplies on a day-to-day basis, so it is important to be using the right cart for the right job while also making sure these carts are working with staff and not against them. Ergonomically designed utility carts allow operators to move more weight without putting themselves at risk from injury, whether it’s moving inventory within a kitchen or across an entire facility. Whatever the transport path is, having a cart that allows you to move a heavier load while reducing operator strain can help increase operational efficiency. It’s no secret that the right equipment can make a huge difference, but below are the specifics of how being able to move more, safely of course, with the right cart, can help your organization immensely. 

The Impact of Labor Savings:

Being able to move more at once with a cart that can handle the load allows for productivity to increase making tasks quicker and easier to complete. Every foodservice director wants to increase productivity and efficiency, but is your equipment there to back up this goal? Transporting is a task that is done throughout an entire day whether that is moving the early morning food deliveries to the refrigerator or bringing dirty dishes into the kitchen from tables that were bussed. 

Another factor that plays into labor savings is the strain of transporting. Transporting heavy loads can take a toll on the staff member who is operating the cart. Staff members need ergonomic carts that focus on their safety while accommodating their needs; instead of hindering them and their responsibilities. When an operator starts to lose energy, tasks can take longer to complete. Using a cart that is designed with the operator in mind helps to reduce this strain to keep the operator safe and on their A game. 

Showing staff, they are valued is crucial in any workplace, especially the foodservice industry as it can be physically demanding. Using equipment that helps operators is a sure way to show they are feeling supported by their employer. Having a smaller team is something many foodservice directors have come to know far too well. With limited staff, the hustle and bustle can quickly catch-up with staff who have to make up for the gaps. One way to help bring back time to a labor-starved team is through the equipment used. Moving more at once with a cart that is engineered to do so can not only save time, but also reduce operator strain all while increasing efficiency. 

kitchen staff

The Impact of Maneuverability: 

It can be easy to dream of the idea of moving more at once to save time, but in the end, mobile equipment is what helps get the job done. While a utility cart is not on your payroll, these carts are putting in the hours to help your team. Having carts that are not only built to hold your heaviest loads, but also maneuver with ease is the ideal combination. When transporting foodservice supplies, oftentimes these items can be fragile. Making sure they stay in place while being moved helps to reduce accidents where supplies and money are wasted to breakage, spills and splatters. Ensuring the safety of the items you are transporting starts with a cart that is designed to go over bumps and take corners with ease and can make a world of difference in helping you move more at once. 

Handling the load is one of the number one tasks of a utility cart which is why Lakeside has a wide selection of carts with varying weight capacities to ensure there is a cart for any tasks. The power of the cart you use can be quite noticeable, take for instance West Clermont schools who were able to reduce their trips from thirteen trips to deliver meals to classrooms down to just three trips all by using equipment that can transport more efficiently. Having a durable cart can increase efficiency tremendously. 

restaurant dining room

Improving operational efficiency can be a daunting task. Taking a look at the equipment being used and its functionality is a great first step towards increased efficiency. When equipment works with your staff to allow them to transport more while reducing operator strain, the ideal solution has been found. Lakeside has a team of experts to help find the right cart for the task so that you’re able to move more at once to improve productivity and efficiency. Contact a cart expert here

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Utility Carts: When to Push and When to Pull

Utility carts have been transporting loads of supplies, food, and equipment for years. While these pieces of equipment may not be noticed by customers, they are well-known by back-of-the-house staff as they make transporting much easier and less straining. Utility carts offer various use-cases making them extremely multifunctional. With their versatility, a cart is pushed and pulled many times throughout a day putting in hours of work to help foster efficient operations. While many transportation tasks utilize the pushing mechanism, there are many tasks where the pulling mechanism may be a good fit. Here, the two maneuvering mechanisms of pushing and pulling will be reviewed to showcase when it is best to use each.

When to Push:

Pushing offers many benefits to the cart operator allowing this mechanism to be chosen most commonly for moving a cart from one place to the next. Pushing a cart allows for full visibility of items on the cart to ensure they stay on the cart during transport while also offering an ideal body position that can help reduce strain on the operator. Moving heavy loads should always warrant pushing compared to pulling as the heavy load can cause injuries if pulled. There are many times pushing is the optimal mechanism for transport, so let’s go over a few of those. 

If a cart is ever going to be going down a decline, be sure to push. If an operator were to lose control of the cart while going down a decline, pushing a cart would help ensure the operator’s safety so as to not have the cart fall back onto them. Aside from this blanket guideline, any other heavy loads should ideally be pushed. Restocking a bar with new bottles of liquor and wine can be a straining task. Utility carts allow this task to be completed efficiently and safely. A cart full of heavy bottles should be pushed to keep the operator’s well-being in mind. Another example of a time when pushing works best is transporting large produce deliveries. Produce can be extremely heavy, especially in large quantities. Pushing a fully loaded cart filled with produce is a best practice. Moving warming pans from the kitchen to the catering venue or to the buffet line is another prime example of when to use the pushing mechanism as these loads can become quite heavy. Pushing offers many different benefits and can be the best transport mechanism for various foodservice tasks. 

the word push over a kitchen background

When to Pull: 

Pulling utility carts is an alternative way to maneuver during transport. While pushing is more commonly used, pulling a cart can be beneficial for certain tasks. In general, heavy loads should be pushed. If a light load needs to be transported, pulling is a good option as it allows you to see your path to avoid any accidents of running into things. Various transporting tasks can be done efficiently using the pulling method. So, what are some examples of when to pull?

Restocking a bathroom or sink area with new paper products is an optimal time to pull a cart due to the light nature of these items. While this task is not customer facing, bringing new flatware and napkins to cleaned and cleared tables is. With these items having a lighter weight, pulling can offer an ideal transport mechanism to bring these items from back-of-house to front-of-house all while making sure not to interrupt guests’ experiences. Deliveries come in nearly daily for foodservice operations, with some being lighter loads and some being heavier. When lighter loads come in, pulling these items on a cart can be very efficient. Pulling may not be the option that is typically chosen, but there are times and places where this mechanism shines. 

the word pull over a kitchen background

Transporting supplies and food is a daily task in the foodservice industry. Finding the best way to maneuver carts can help increase efficiency and reduce operator strain. Pushing a cart and pulling a cart both come with their advantages with each working optimally for various tasks. Lakeside has a large selection of utility carts so that the right cart can be used for the right task. Our Easy-Tow cart allows for the optimal functionality to push and pull safely within one cart with its unique pull-down handle. Explore the Easy-Tow today! 

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Your Team is Your Greatest Asset: How to Reduce Work Injuries

foodservice worker's safety

Work related injuries are the last thing an employee or employer wants to happen. Coming to work should be both enjoyable and safe, so how can you reduce the risk of staff injuring themselves on the job? There is no straight forward answer or solution to completely removing the possibility for work-related injuries, but there are various steps that can be taken to avoid these injuries. Every industry has different possible injuries due to what the employees are exposed to, handle, move, or are near while at work. 

The foodservice industry presents workers with different possibilities for injuries compared to someone working in the construction business. It is important to understand the risks your specific foodservice operations pose to employees on a daily basis. While each foodservice operation may have different risks, there are some common problems that nearly every kitchen has that have led to employee injuries in the past. 

Your employees are your most important asset, so they should be treated as such. As it has been learned in recent times, when there is not enough staff, the doors are not able to be opened to diners. Providing employees with a safe working environment and safe equipment is crucial to not only keeping your staff healthy and able to work, but it also shows your commitment to your staff and their well-being. Here, you will learn some ways to help reduce work related injuries within your foodservice operations.

1. Reduce Slipping 

Kitchens are bound to have water on the floor or a splash of food that accidentally slipped off a plate or off the counter. This does not mean that the floors should be left like this for long though as it presents the possibility for slipping. Your dish washing area is going to have a wet floor, there is no question about that, but how can you limit the possibility of injury? Have a mop handy to soak up the water occasionally as dish loads are going through the dishwasher.  Take intentional breaks to stop and mop the area to make sure everyone remains on their feet. 

The wet floors near the dishwashing area transfers to the rest of the kitchen throughout service as the dishwashers are walking around to put clean dishes back on their shelves. Making sure the entire kitchen floors stay as dry as possible is a step that can be taken to reduce the risk of employees slipping and severely injuring themselves. Consider having employees also wear non-slip shoes as well to add another layer of protection. “Daily mopping, periodic deep-cleaning and adding non-slip mats to high traffic areas can help reduce the risk of slips and falls,” according to Independent Agent Magazine

wet floor sign on tile floor

2. Set Lifting and Carrying Safety Guidelines

Training your employees on how to safely lift, carry, and transport kitchen supplies and items is a great form of preventative action against employee injuries. Knowing what types of items your staff will be moving around on a daily basis, you can do some research on how to best lift and carry those specific items so that employees are able to reduce the strain on their body. Moving around heavy items can lead to muscle strains in staff member’s shoulders, legs, neck, and back. Finding ways to avoid these strains is very important. 

A basic rule of thumb is to never lift or carry an item that has a weight greater than 50 lbs. Obviously that restriction may even be lower for some employees, so make sure employees have equipment that allows them to still move those items but in a safer way. There are various pieces of equipment that can be used to help transport heavy items, or even lighter items that are bulky and awkward to carry. Utilize the right equipment to help foster a safe work environment for your team. 

guideline stamp over paper

3. Use the Right Equipment

In the back-of-the-house, there are always supplies to be moved around whether a delivery was just made, or supplies are being taken from the storage space and into the kitchen to be used. Having foodservice utility carts allows staff to transport these heavy or bulky items with ease, but not every utility cart is designed to move heavy loads. Heavy duty foodservice utility carts allow staff to transport heavier items while not increasing operator strain. Ergonomic utility carts are designed with this in mind. 

Handles on ergonomic utility carts are placed at a height and a position that works with the operator and not against them. These foodservice carts are built in a way that optimizes the pushing motion of the operator. While these carts can be extremely helpful in reducing the risk of employee injuries, they are no help if they are not used. Making sure that it is expected to use these carts for moving heavier loads is very important. When the precedent is set that heavy loads are to be transported with ergonomic carts, the risk for staff injuring themselves can be reduced. 

ergonomic utility carts


Employee safety should be the number one priority within the foodservice industry. While you need staff healthy in order to work, it is also important that you show the importance and emphasis that is put on workers' safety. When employees feel they are valued at work, productivity and efficiency can be increased all while building upon your work culture. Using the right equipment can help reduce the risk factors presented in this industry. Get to know more about ergonomic utility carts today!

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Why is Versatile Foodservice Equipment Important?

versatile equipment

Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to foodservice operations. When feeding a large number of diners for various meal services each day, it is important to use ingredients that are versatile so that they are able to be used in various dishes. Having ingredients that can be used in various dishes helps to reduce the amount of waste your operations produce since your kitchen staff know what they have and are able to use the ingredients up before they expire. Quality of quantity can be translated into the foodservice realm as well. 

Menus that have six stellar dishes compared to a menu with thirty options can evoke various reactions within your guests. Diners find it more impressive to have a smaller menu that they are sure the chefs have mastered over a menu that has everything under the sun as an option but is mediocre at best. Restaurant Business Online summarized this concept perfectly. “Using versatile ingredients can help ensure margins are great, labor is efficient, staff aren’t overstressed, and diners are happy.” Using versatile ingredients is a concept that nearly every kitchen has adapted to, especially when supply chain issues have been affecting the foodservice industry at a higher rate over the past few years.

Versatility is a critical aspect in the foodservice industry, especially in relation to their operations. While using versatile ingredients in your menus is important, versatility does not need to just stop there. When versatile ingredients are paired with versatile equipment in the kitchen, operations are sure to be even more efficient all while saving time, space, and money. Versatile equipment helps free up space in your kitchen, increases labor efficiency, and saves money with their ability to be a multifunctional asset. The benefits are clear, but let’s go a little deeper into each.  

Money Savings:

It is no secret that every foodservice operation is running on a budget. Whether you’re in the high-end dining side of the industry, or you are serving thousands of college students each day, every operation has a budget they need to stay within. When there are opportunities to cut costs while still ensuring quality, most foodservice directors take the opportunity. Equipment can be very expensive but is necessary for you to continue serving your customers. Without reliable equipment, your doors will not be able to remain open. 

Versatile equipment has a higher ROI and in return, can save you budget from major hits. When one piece of equipment is now serving the purpose of two old pieces of equipment, you now only need to purchase one new piece of equipment as opposed to two. So, the next time you’re in need of a new piece of equipment, consider finding a solution that offers multifunctionality to save your future budget.  

money savings

Time Savings:

With the current labor shortage that is greatly affecting the foodservice industry, finding ways to reduce the time it takes to complete tasks can be extremely helpful to your overall operational efficiency. With versatile equipment, staff are able to use one piece of equipment for various uses which saves a great deal of time. Rather than having to switch between different pieces of equipment for the many different tasks during a shift, versatile equipment allows you to eliminate the time it takes to swap out equipment. 

Time is money, and this is especially true when your team is short staffed. Versatile equipment allows staff to increase their functionality which in the end contributes to back-of-the-house operational efficiency. Multifunctional equipment often allows the operator to remove one step in the process of a given task for example using a drying rack that also serves as storage eliminates the need to move the dishes twice. Even the elimination of one small step in the process can save a lot of time over the course of a shift. 

time savings

Space Savings: 

Whether you have a small scale or a large kitchen, it seems we always could use more space in the kitchen. With many kitchens adapting to smaller scale footprints, multifunctional and versatile equipment has become a must. No matter the size of a kitchen, we all can afford to get some workspace back. Versatile equipment allows one piece of equipment to serve the function of at least two other pieces of equipment which gives back space to your crowded kitchen. When multiple needs are able to be met with one piece of equipment, staff will have more room to maneuver around the kitchen which can help reduce injuries and accidents from occurring. 

With less obstacles to maneuver around, staff can move quickly, efficiently and safely when completing their tasks. Crowded kitchens usually mean a full staff is on board, which is something every operation hopes to have. Keeping the staff you do have on your team safe and able to perform their job efficiently is crucial to thriving in the labor shortage. Versatile equipment has many benefits, but the space savings they offer can make a huge difference in your operations. 

space savings


Lakeside invented and perfected the stainless steel utility cart allowing us to offer a wide selection of versatile and durable solutions for back-of-the-house foodservice operations. Many of our carts are multifunctional allowing multiple tasks to be completed with one cart. Explore our vast selection of utility carts here or talk with a Lakeside cart expert today!

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Push vs Pull: The Benefits of Each with Utility Carts

push vs pull

On an average day in the foodservice industry, staff will push and pull various carts full of supplies to serve diners. Whether food supplies are being moved, or tableware is being transported, these loads can be heavy. While pushing and pulling are both options, there are benefits to each. For the majority of jobs, pushing is preferred, but below we will discuss why pulling may be a better option for some transportation loads. According to Well Work Force, “We are capable of safely generating more force when pushing, rather than pulling.” Pushing is usually the option that most staff choose, but in some instances pulling can be very beneficial. 

Moving around heavy loads is inevitable but knowing how to safely transport those loads is key to helping minimize employee injuries. The differences between pushing and pulling may not seem very evident at first glance, so we have put together an overview of the two and their benefits to help you and your staff decide when to use each for different tasks. 

Benefits of Pushing:

When pushing a cart, you are able to use both arms to push the load which allows your body weight to lean into the cart to help maneuver it forward. Pushing carts allows for optimal visibility of the supplies and items on your cart. During transport, supplies may shift around from going over a bump or when taking a turn. When pushing a cart, you are able to keep an eye on the items on the cart to ensure they are stable during transport. If an item shifts while pushing the cart, it can be easily noticed and moved back into its proper place to ensure no accidents occur. Some items may not be affected by a tumble off of the cart, but many items would. Being able to see the items while pushing can help reduce the likelihood of an accident.

For those that have a tendency to experience lower back pain, pushing carts as much as possible is a smart choice, according to Ace Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Institute. The motion of pushing has less strain on your back and can reduce the progression of pre-existing back problems. Moving heavy equipment can have a great impact on the body, so making sure you are utilizing your body weight and position to your greatest advantage is crucial to ensuring a healthy body free of strains. 

pushing utility carts

Benefits of Pulling:

Pulling loads has its time and place as well. When pulling a cart, the operator is facing forward using one arm to pull the load. Sometimes the operator may use the pulling method and walk backwards in order to be able to use both hands and more body weight to move the load. Pulling is ideal for lighter weight loads as to ensure there is no strain on the operator. Pulling allows the operator to easily make turns with the cart following their guide. When pulling a cart, there are no visibility obstructions as the cart is usually behind the operator when pulling. This visibility ensures that nothing is run over. The operator has no items to look around or over making sure a collision with something else is reduced. 

When it comes to inclines, pushing and pulling each have their place. Transporting a full cart down an incline is best suited with pushing as to avoid any accidents happening with a cart falling back onto the operator if an accident were to occur. Transporting a fully loaded cart up an incline merits the use of pulling. If an accident were to occur and the cart were to lose control going up an incline, the cart would not fall onto the operator if it were being pulled. While these points are true for protecting the operator, it is important to also consider those who the cart will be passing in transport. Moving more than the cart can handle can cause problems and possible accidents, so when in doubt, split it into two smaller loads. Pulling a utility cart has its time and place, so make sure to consider whether this is the best option or if pushing would be a safer decision.

pulling utility carts

Utility carts are built to take the heavy load and make it easier for staff to move supplies. Using these carts to their greatest advantage not only increases functionality, but also safety. Whether it is pushing or pulling a loaded cart, ensuring the safety of the operator is always important. A general rule of thumb is to push heavy loads, and to pull lighter loads if the operator prefers that form of transporting. Lakeside’s Easy Tow cart allows for traditional pushing but also allows for easy pulling with its drop-down handle that unlocks when it is needed. Meet the Easy Tow today!

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How to Navigate the Foodservice Labor Shortage

how to navigate the foodservice labor shortage

Labor shortages are unfortunately something that has become somewhat of a norm in various industries over the past few years. Everywhere we go, wait times are longer or the goods we want to buy are not available. The implications of the current labor shortage can be seen nearly every day. The foodservice industry specifically has seen a great decline in the staff they are able to retain. Diners see this with longer wait times, smaller menus, and increased prices, but let’s take a look behind the scenes. 

Foodservice directors are finding it very difficult to maintain a full staff. When a position is open, it takes months to find staff which leaves the current staff making up for the gaps. Being able to function amidst a nationwide labor shortage has its challenges as diners, guests, students, and patients still are expecting to receive the same level of service and quality food. Although your team is smaller right now, the same amount of work needs to be done. Deliveries need to be put into their home in the storage room and transporting food supplies to the kitchen for meal prep still needs to happen. At the end of the day, your small staff can get by, but ultimately they are pushing themselves to a limit that will soon be reached. 

Having employees get to a point where they can no longer physically and mentally work in the foodservice industry is a point we don’t want you to be reached. While the labor shortage will continue to impact the foodservice industry, we have gathered some ideas for you to consider implementing to help make your employees time at work both enjoyable and safe, and also for it to be such a great work environment that your company culture is recognized as being one of the best. Being known for having a great company culture can have great impacts on your hiring process. Below we will dive into some ideas to help reduce the impacts the labor shortage is having on your foodservice operations. 

1: Build a Strong Work Culture

When your employees enjoy their work, they share that with their friends and family. Word-of-mouth marketing can be one of the most powerful types of marketing as a positive word-of-mouth review can send your business to success while a bad review can have many negative effects. When you treat your staff well, the community knows it and in return will want to support your business more and even consider working for you. 

In an employee starved industry, people looking for jobs have the ultimate say on where they want to work. Being known as a great employer will increase your likelihood of receiving more applications which will lead to more interviews and eventually to great hires. Building your work culture all starts with management. Offering flexibility and positive reinforcement are just two of the many ways to create a good relationship with your staff. 

Another aspect of work culture is safety. No one wants to work for a company that pushes their employees to the breaking point and has them do work that is unsafe. Ensuring your operations, kitchen, and dining space offer equipment that is safe for employees to use is very important. In the foodservice industry, there are lots of heavy items that need to be moved around ranging from canned food to bringing heavy dirty dishes to the back-of-the-house from the dining space. Safety paired with an enjoyable work environment can help encourage job applicants to seek out your business. 

work culture

2: Offer Impressive Benefits

While company culture is one aspect that helps retain staff, offering great benefits helps get people in the door for interviews. When looking for new jobs, the first thing you look at on a posting is the general description and the quick list of bulleted benefits. While some foodservice operations are not designed to offer full-time salaried benefits like health insurance and retirement savings plans, there are many other benefits you can offer your part time staff. Consider offering employee discounts, wellness benefits, flexible schedule benefits, training and professional development opportunities. 

With all of this in mind, it is also so important to pay your employees a competitive wage. That may sound like a very obvious statement to make, but at the end of the day, job applicants want a job that will be able to sustain their living expenses. Wage paired with impressive benefits can really help attract and retain employees so consider evaluating your current benefits and then take some time to brainstorm how you could add more benefits to the package. 

employee benefits

3: Increase the Use of Technology

Within the foodservice industry, there are many tasks that have now been able to be replaced by automated technology. For example, Open Table is a service many restaurants use that allow guests to make reservations online without having to call and talk to a restaurant staff member. Reducing the amount of time a hostess is on the phone taking reservations is an easy swap to bring back time to your smaller staff. 

Another new technological advance in the foodservice industry is the use of wireless payment systems. Instead of staff having to come to the table to get a form of payment, take the card back to the register to process the payment, and then bring the card back to the guests, they can simply do take the payment right at the table, process the payment, and print a receipt within less than a minute. This is yet another way to reduce the time it takes staff to complete a task. With the current labor shortage, when the time it takes to complete a task is reduced, this brings back time to increase productivity and efficiency. 

invest in technology


Investing in your employees and your company culture is so important in the labor starved foodservice industry. Offering more benefits while introducing new technologies can help increase operational efficiency. Efficiency also comes with equipment that works with you, and not against you. Lakeside has a large selection of ergonomically engineered rolling foodservice carts that lead to labor savings. Our ergonomic carts are built at the best height with the best handle angle to reduce operator strain, fatigue, and injury. With limited employees, the last thing you need is to lose a staff member that needs to take two weeks off to recover from a work-related injury. Your foodservice equipment sets the stage for successful and safe operations for diners, guests, patients, students, or whoever else walks through your doors. Talk with a Lakeside cart expert to discover equipment solutions best fit for your operations.

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Kitchen (Re)Design without the Headaches

As a Foodservice director, you know how important the kitchen is for the success of your business. You’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen to ensure that your staff can work quickly and efficiently. But there comes a time when even the best-run kitchen needs improvement. And oftentimes, it’s not possible to conduct a full remodel due to budgetary constraints. So what are your options?  Let’s take a look at an example from one high school that found a way to improve their kitchen efficiency without breaking the bank.

Work and Store:

A local southern California high school needed to make better use of their existing kitchen space and had a goal to increase storage while also adding more workspace for their growing operations. After exploring several solutions, Lakeside was able to create a design that offered the perfect combination of workspace and storage: a custom-built workstation with sheet pan rack storage underneath it. By using this setup, they were able to store half or full sheets underneath while having ample workspace for prepping food on top. The staff loved this solution and ordered more of these custom-built units from our US factory to keep things running smoothly and efficiently in their kitchens. 

Multifunctional cart

Unlock Efficiency:

This custom project emphasizes that improving your kitchen functionality and efficiency does not have to mean undertaking a major remodel project; many times, you can unlock efficiency just by taking an honest look at your facilities and seeing where there might be room for improvement. Not only is this a quicker process than a complete remodel, but it is also more budget friendly. Oftentimes a complete remodel is not necessary. Pinpointing the operational flows that can have increased efficiency is the first step in the process. Take some time today to evaluate your current setup and see if any small changes can make big improvements in the way your kitchen functions! 

school kitchen

Redesigning a kitchen can be challenging, especially when you don't have enough funds for a full remodel budget. However, as shown by our example of the high school looking for a storage solution with extra workspace capabilities, unlocking efficiency doesn’t always require something drastic like a complete renovation project – sometimes all it takes is taking an honest look at what works (and what doesn’t) in order to find ways of making improvements. Evaluate your own facilities today and see if there are any opportunities for increasing efficiency without breaking the bank!   ​

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Is Stainless Steel or Aluminum the Right Choice for Your Cart?

stainless steel vs aluminum

Aluminum and stainless steel are two of the most popular materials used to make foodservice equipment for the commercial kitchen today. While they have many similarities, they also have several key differences that may make one better than the other depending on your needs as an operator, chef, or foodservice director. When it comes to foodservice, there are perks to both materials as well as some downfalls to note in the comparison of the two. Let’s look at both aluminum and stainless steel so you can choose which one makes the most sense for your kitchen space and cooking needs.

Stainless Steel:

This material is one of the strongest metals used for everyday foodservice equipment. Not all stainless steel is the same though. There are different grades with each having minor, but notable, differences making them unique from each other. Two of the more commonly used stainless steel grades are the 304 and the 304L. The variation between the two comes down to the amount of carbon in the metal. The grade 304 has a maximum of 0.08% carbon while the 304L grade has a maximum of 0.03%. The rest of the composition of these two grades is nearly identical with iron making up the difference. This may seem insignificant but makes a difference. 

The 304 grade of stainless steel is generally considered to be the stronger of the two. So why would the 304L be chosen then? The lower level of carbon in the 304L helps to minimize carbide precipitation during the welding process. This is particularly relevant for manufacturers. Using the 304L eliminates the need to anneal weld joints prior to final use. This allows time and money to be saved during the manufacturing process which can in-return allow a product to be shipped to you sooner. Stainless steel has proven its value to the foodservice industry for many years. 

stainless steel coils


“Aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth’s crust,” according to the World Economic Forum, making it a material that is often used due to its abundance. It has been produced in commercial quantities for industrial applications for just over 100 years and is now being used across many different industries. Aluminum is lighter in weight when compared to other metals while still having a considerable amount of strength. It also has various grades with slight variations in their performance that are suited for different applications. Aluminum alloy 1100 is commonly used in chemical and food processing. Aluminum alloy 2014 on the other hand is a copper-based alloy with very high strength making it commonly used in aerospace structural applications. But there is one grade that is most commonly used and that is 3003. 

3003 aluminum is completely pure but with added manganese that helps to improve the strength of the material to 20% stronger than the 1100. The 3003 also has great workability and corrosion resistance that helps make it one of the most common alloys. Aluminum has many benefits of its own in comparison to stainless steel, but its most notable difference is its lightweight characteristic. 

aluminum coils

Foodservice Application: 

Now that the basics have been covered, we can go into more depth as to which is better for foodservice applications. Both stainless steel and aluminum are used in the industry and the choice between the two comes down to what tasks the piece of equipment will be used for. “While stainless steel and aluminum are both strong materials, steel is typically stronger,” according to Tamp Steel. If the piece of equipment you are looking to purchase will be used to carry various heavy loads a day, stainless steel is usually the better choice. However, it is important to remember that aluminum is lighter than steel and has a higher strength to weight ratio. If a piece of equipment is needed for lighter loads, aluminum may be the better choice. Both stainless steel and aluminum have corrosion resistant properties which is crucial in this industry to ensure operations are sanitary. Making the decision between the two can be difficult, so take a look at the application it will be used for as your starting point. Lakeside manufactures a wide selection of utility carts to help operators transport with ease. Explore our selection here!

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Rack Up Insights on our Top 3 Industrial Drying Racks

Rack up insights on our top 3 industrial drying racks

After being in business for over 75 years, Lakeside has been able to rack up industry insights on which products foodservice directors have found the most valuable, and which pieces of equipment have made the greatest difference in foodservice operations across the country. While Lakeside has a wide variety within the pool of our most popular products, three of our industrial drying racks have consistently been making a difference in back-of-the-house operations for many years. So how do these carts really make a difference and help gear up for more efficient operations? 


Drying racks provide so many benefits from avoiding wet-nesting dishes to helping reduce the time it takes staff to get through all the dirty dishes after a busy night of service. Whether you are working in foodservice at a hospital, school, casino, or resort, dishes always need to be washed and dried. In last week’s blog, we highlighted the main things to look for when purchasing a drying rack, but this week we will dive deeper into the top 3 most popular Lakeside drying racks and why they fly off the shelves. There are so many benefits to Lakeside drying racks with their ability to not only serve as a drying rack, but also as a storage unit. 


No matter which model you decide will works best for your operations, you’ll be sure to find these features in your drying rack. All Lakeside industrial drying racks have a stainless steel frame and “L” supports to increase the stability of the rack while also preventing accidents and spills. The all welded stainless steel bases on Lakeside drying racks ensure superior strength and balance. So rest assured, these drying racks will offer a durable, secure, and stable home for your pans, trays, and domes. Below we will take a deeper look at the top 3 industrial drying racks. 

The 848 Sheet Pan and Tray Rack: 

So many kitchens find themselves running through loads on sheet pans from the start of prep all the way through service. Sheet pans are a vital piece of equipment that allow food to be cooked for diners in an efficient manner, but drying them can be a pain point as they are large and bulky. Sheet pan drying racks are specifically designed to hold these bulky sheet pans and ensure they are able to dry quickly so that they can be used for another round of prep within hours. The 848 not only accommodates for the drying of sheet pans, but also for the drying of trays. Behind plates, bowls, cups, and silverware, sheets and trays are probably the next highest volume dish type to go through a dishwasher in a kitchen. Here are some main benefits of the 848 industrial drying rack. 

  • All-welded frame of stainless steel square tubing 
  • Accommodates a variety of pan and tray sizes 
  • Stainless steel channel slides with spacing in between to speed up drying time
  • Pan-stop ledge prevents pans and trays from sliding off of the back side
  • Easily maneuverable with all-swivel casters 
  • Three shelves that hold a total of 120 pans or trays 

With this drying rack offering drying and storage for both sheet pans and trays, it’s fairly obvious why this is one of our best-selling trying racks. When versatility meets durability, equipment is sure to provide solutions for a kitchen for many years. 

industrial drying rack

The 898 Dome Drying Rack: 

The use of domes in  foodservice is very common as they help keep food warm not only for the enjoyment of the diner, but also for maintaining the food at a safe-to-eat temperature. Domes can be clunky and hard to store, but drying racks designed for dome storage help solve this problem. The 898 is a Lakeside top seller as it has provided drying and storage for hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants, and many other foodservice businesses. Here are some quick bullet points of the main features of this industrial drying rack. 

  • Dome cradles conveniently remove for easy cleaning and sanitizing
  • Holds most standard sized domes
  • Each cradle holds 10 domes 
  • Five shelves that hold a total of 100 domes 
  • Maneuvers easily around the kitchen and storage spaces

Domes play a crucial role in foodservice as they ensure all of the hours or prep work for a meal are not lost at the last minute to a cold meal that is not able to be served. Having a drying rack and storage space for these domes helps to improve kitchen efficiency. 

Industrial drying rack

The 867 Tray Drying Rack: 

This rack is designed specifically for tray drying and storage. Trays are an item that kitchens can never have too many of. Trays serve a variety of purposes in kitchens ranging from being used to deliver food to tables, to being used by guests to grab food from self-serve counters. With trays being used so often, it is important to have a method set up to be able to dry them in a timely manner so they can be restocked and used again. The 867 is Lakeside’s popular tray drying rack, and here’s why. 

  • Removable tray racks for easy cleaning and sanitizing
  • Tray racks have slant in the center and perforated bottom for quick and efficient drainage
  • Shelves also have drain holes for fast draining
  • Holds a variety of tray sizes for convenience and versatility 
  • Easily maneuvers around kitchen and storage areas
  • Four shelves that hold a total of 80 trays 

Having efficient draining in a drying rack is the number one feature to look for in drying racks. Without efficient draining, dishes will not dry as fast and there is a risk of mold and bacteria growth. The 867 has excellent drainage systems in various aspects of the cart to ensure dishes dry quickly and efficiently. 

Industrial drying rack


Drying racks play a key role in back-of-the-house operations as they provide a place for damp dishes to dry once they have gone through the dishwasher, but they also provide storage for your dishes when they are not being used. Lakeside drying racks have made a significant impact on kitchen efficiency for years. Chat with a Lakeside expert today to learn more about drying rack solutions.

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The Ultimate Checklist for Buying an Industrial Drying Rack

Ultimate checklist for buying industrial drying rack

Having functional storage within foodservice operations is crucial for ensuring everything runs smoothly before, during, and after service. Having multifunctional equipment is the cherry on top of functional storage. Being able to use one piece of equipment for two or more uses not only helps increase your ROI, but it also frees up space in the back of the house to allow for staff to shuffle around easily and place priority on dinners. At Lakeside, multifunctional equipment is the name of our game. When durability meets multifunction, you will see increased efficiency in foodservice operations. 

A piece of equipment that is known to take up lots of space are storage shelves. While they are necessary, sometimes it would be ideal to have that space open. When you combine two functions into one, your piece of equipment is using the space of one item while serving two purposes. Another item that is notorious for crowding a kitchen are drying racks. Both of these pieces of equipment are vital to the functionality of foodservice operations, but what if they were combined into one piece of equipment? 

That is exactly the functionality that our industrial drying racks offer. Having a place to dry dishes and not needing them to be transferred onto the storage shelves saves time. Instead, simply roll the drying rack into a storage space to continue drying while already being stored. Labor savings is beneficial to nearly any facility, whether that is in foodservice or not. Using multifunctional equipment saves the time it takes staff to perform the same tasks. So what should you be looking for in a multifunctional drying rack? Let’s take a look at the checklist below.

1. Stainless Steel Construction

For a piece of equipment that will see many splashes of water throughout its lifespan, making sure it is durable, while also being rust resistant, is crucial. While plastic drying racks can get the job done, they usually are not able to withstand the same amount of weight that stainless steel can. The higher weight capacity stainless steel is able to hold allows for more items to be dried and stored on a single rack. Pairing its ability to hold the weight of many dishes with its resistance to rust will be sure to offer you the ideal drying rack. 

industrial drying racks

2. Stability of Structure

While plastic trays may not weigh down on a rack much, metal sheet pans can add a large amount of weight onto a drying rack which is why stability is so important. Making sure your drying rack will remain stable while not in motion and also during transport is crucial to the safety of everyone. Not only does a stable drying rack ensure staff safety, it also helps avoid accidents and spills. Lakeside uses “L” supports and an all welded stainless steel base to ensure superior strength and balance while in motion and parked. 

drying racks

3. Mobility

Being able to move an industrial drying rack is a must. When loading a rack, it needs to be next the the dish washing area. When the rack is full, it needs to be moved out of the working area and into storage. In order to be able to do this, a drying rack must have wheels. While stationary drying racks still offer the drying space you need, they take up valuable space in the kitchen. Having mobile industrial drying racks allows your drying rack to also serve as storage and be moved out of the way. 

4. Easy Cleaning

These drying racks will be used heavily since foodservice operations are constantly using, washing, and drying dishes. With this, drying racks need to be cleaned to ensure clean dishes remain clean. Having a drying rack that has removable cradles or removable rack slants makes the cleaning process easier while ensuring every aspect of the rack is able to be cleaned efficiency and thoroughly. 

drying racks

5. Drainage System

Water will come into contact with the rack and there will be remaining water on dishes after they come out of the dishwasher. While rinse aids help decrease the amount of time it takes for dishes to dry, water still remains on the dishes for a period of time after they have went through their dishwasher cycle and taken out. Having a drainage system on drying racks helps to direct this water during the drying process. Drying racks that have perorated bottoms where the dishes sit or perforated drain holes on shelves help reduce drying time will also ensuring there is no water build-up. 

6. Versatility in Storage Abilities

Having a drying rack that can hold various sized items is an important factor to consider when purchasing an industrial drying rack. Unless you are planning to use the rack for only one tray model that you only have one size of, it most likely will be beneficial for you to have a drying rack that can hold various types of items. One meal your service might require a plethora of domes to be used to keep food warm, while the next meal might rely heavily on the use of lots of sheet pans to cook the meal. Drying racks that can hold items of varying size work best. 

7. Bumpers 

When transporting drying racks, you are bound to bump a corner or two. Having bumpers on the legs, bottom corners and perimeter help to reduce the impact the bumps have on furnishings. Bumpers offer an excellent safeguard for doors, walls, and furnishings. 

8. Braking Casters

For when your drying rack is serving its function of being used for storage, ensuring it will remain in place is very important. One of the reasons being the security of the dishes and the second being the safety of those who walk near the drying rack. An accidental bump to the rack could cause it to shift, but braking casters allow you to lock the drying rack in place while it is in the storage room. The same can be said while it is near the wash area. When staff are shuffling around taking dishes off the dishwasher racks and placing them on drying racks it is important that the rack remains in place. 


Drying racks are a great multifunctional investment that offers a place for dishes to dry while also offering a storage solution for those dishes. Having multifunctional equipment is key to successful foodservice operations today. When looking to purchase an industrial drying rack, be sure to look for these features to make sure you are investing in the right equipment. Lakeside offers a selection of drying racks to help improve your back-of-the-house operations. Learn more about Lakeside drying racks here!