Foodservice Equipment & Supplies
Kitchen Layout & Design
Custom Fabrication

Author Archives: Heather Hartley

church kitchen design

What You Should Consider For Your Church Kitchen Design

There are some key factors you’ll want to consider adding to your church kitchen design. First, you should turn to the professionals to ensure that your church kitchen design suits your congregation’s needs. A church kitchen design company has the experience to ensure that every detail is considered. They will know which restaurant equipment is best to fit your priorities.

Consider These Design Elements

Any church that wants to get the most value for their kitchen budget will need to invest in the right equipment. Getting the value that your organization deserves means choosing commercial kitchen equipment that is built to last and deliver years of quality function.

Churches and other groups have consistently chosen commercial equipment because of the value that it delivers. The commercial equipment industry has grown by leaps and bounds, largely due to this value. The commercial equipment industry has seen a growth rate of 2.2% and is a $3.7 billion industry now.

The right commercial kitchen appliances are a good investment. You will have the worry-free operation for years to come. Each church kitchen design should include at a minimum:

  • A commercial ice machine
  • A commercial refrigerator
  • A commercial stove

While it may seem like an ice machine is a bit luxurious, once you have it, you will be amazed at how much it’s used. A stove and a refrigerator are absolute necessities. A lot of church groups also choose to have a commercial dishwasher installed, as well.

Having the right equipment installed means that the kitchen will be used frequently. Whether your congregation plans on renting the space out to generate income or becomes a space that will be used for gatherings of the congregation, having the right equipment will make the space more enjoyable to use.

Other Design Elements to Consider

While appliances take center stage in any church kitchen design, that is not all you have to think about. What will you use for storage? For food preparation? What type of counters would you like to see in your church kitchen?

Many churches choose to go completely commercial by adding stainless steel workspaces for food prep and commercial-type flooring. Of course, it is completely up to you as to what you choose to do for your kitchen.

Before you make any choices, consult with a church kitchen design company that has the experience to deliver the options that will give your group the best value and a kitchen that you will love.

2017 Young Lion Award

Young Lion-Dealer

Drew O’Quinn
Thompson & Little
Fayetteville, N.C.

By Mike Sherer, Senior Contributing Editor

Anyone who’s worked in, let alone run, a small business knows that you have to be able to wear a lot of different hats. For Drew O’Quinn, V.P., Thompson & Little, Fayetteville, N.C., the process of learning and earning those hats started early—by watching first his grandfather, then his father, and now his mother serve as President of the 71-year-old family business.

“As a teenager,” says O’Quinn, “I worked during the summers loading trucks, working the showroom, even cleaning the bathrooms. In my first year after graduating from college, I performed deliveries and installations, as well as welded and finished fabrication in our fabrication shop. I really appreciate my parents giving me the chance to learn all the facets and divisions within the company.”

Knowing all the positions in the business, and how to perform them, has given O’Quinn, now 37, a profound perspective on what makes the company run. “Delivering and installing kitchen equipment, for example, is not an easy job,” he says. “It takes patience and expertise, so I have the utmost appreciation for our installation team given those experiences. Another valuable asset I gained while working in the field was the ability to gauge how long an installation should take.”

Now as V.P., he still wears a lot of hats, overseeing the contract department and the sales department. He meets biweekly with the accounting department, estimates large bid projects, and works alongside his purchasing managers. He understands that what really makes the business run isn’t what he knows, but what the team members throughout the company know.

“They’re what makes us go,” he says. “I truly believe that if you hire good people with a good attitude, give them training and tools and get out of their way, they’ll be successful. Many of our staff members have long tenure with the company—one has been here 35 years—and that excites me. Their experience is instrumental to our customer’s success, and their tenure is a testament to our team culture.”

“As our staff knows, we’re not selling kitchen equipment,” he says. “We’re selling solutions.” Those solutions come from well-trained professionals with experience, and O’Quinn is extremely proud of the Thompson & Little team.

O’Quinn is a firm believer in training. After participating in numerous training events with the Supply & Equipment Foodservice Alliance, the buying group Thompson & Little has belonged to for 25 years, he was nominated to serve on SEFA’s training committee. SEFA has always been dedicated to training DSR professionals and O’Quinn saw all the successes of their programs.

“Over my career, I have learned from so many outstanding foodservice professionals that have helped me become a better business person and industry professional. Many have given tirelessly to the industry, and many of my friends and colleagues in the industry are my fiercest competitors,” he says. “Those impressions motivated me to give back any way I can.”

“Drew deserves the spotlight,” says Tom Stritch, V.P.-Dealer Relations for SEFA, “but he’s the last one to seek it or want it. For all the good work he does, he never asks anything in return.”

“He’s a humble man,” agrees Tedde Reid, President and Founder of SEFA. “His contribution to SEFA and the industry is enormous, but he also gives back to his community. He leads two youth groups at his church, and is actively involved in two of the worldwide youth ministries that his mom founded. What’s great about Drew is that his wisdom, experience and maturity comes with youth and enthusiasm.”What’s made him so successful, according to people who know him, is his ability to truly listen. “Some people talk a lot,” says Fred Cypress, President of Dixie Store Fixtures & Sales Co., Birmingham, Ala. “Others think they have all the answers. A few listen to everyone’s opinion and then speak thoughtfully. Drew is one of those people. He’s very insightful, and if he has an opinion worth voicing, he will.

”Stritch and Cypress encouraged O’Quinn to join the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association, given Thompson & Little was not a member at the time. It was advice O’Quinn is thankful for to this day, as FEDA has been an instrumental organization in his dealership, as well as the dealer community. This year, O’Quinn joined the FEDA’s Board of Directors, and he’ll serve as Assistant Chair for its 2018 convention.

Since taking on his present job responsibilities, O’Quinn says the biggest challenge the company faces is growth in a competitive and more transparent market. “The way to go to market is different now than it was a decade ago,” he says. “I did a full technology overhaul when I took over operations—new servers and networks, new phone system, new software system, and new e-commerce website. Everyone can offer a low price, and the Internet has made it easy for customers to educate themselves. That’s why we have to sell solutions, not equipment.”

He adds, “I love coming into work. It’s a great business and industry, and I enjoy working side by side with very talented co-workers,” he says. “If I do anything well, it’s hiring great people and giving them a work environment they can succeed in and have some fun doing it.”

Tips for Choosing a Commercial Fryer

Being in the market for a new fryer can come with a great deal of decision making. Below we have listed some questions to consider, key facts for the decision process, and some side notes on proper application for your fryer.

Questions you should consider when in the market for a new fryer

  • What fried items does your restaurant’s menu consist of?
    Open pot fryers are generally best for low sediment items such as french fries, while tube fryers are the most versatile but best heavier sediment items like chicken, fish, and onion rings. Flat bottom Fryers are better for heavily battered items. These items might consist of tempura and funnel cakes.
  • Will you use a gas fryer or an electric fryer? 
    It’s important to know if you’re going to use natural gas or liquid propane. If you are using liquid propane what kind of tank will you be using for your hook-up?
  • Level of output?
    Volume of fried food per hour is key. This will help you determine size and number of frypots needed.

Key facts for the decision process 

  • As oil prices increase, a number of new technologies have been introduced by various suppliers to increase oil life and lower oil costs. Some manufacturers limit the amount of oil needed in the fry pot. Some extend the life of the oil by straining and filtering.
  • As energy prices increase, other technologies have been introduced to improve heat transfer putting more energy into the cooking oil and less up the exhaust vent. This lowers energy costs.
  • ENERGY STAR fryers offer shorter cook times, faster temperature recovery times, and higher pound-per-hour production rates through advanced burner and heat exchanger designs. Some models offer insulated frypots, which reduces standby losses, giving the fryer a lower idle energy rate.
  • Cost-saving tips: Cut idle time and turn off back-up fryer when possible. Recalibrate.
  • ENERGY STAR fryers can save $120 for electric annually or $590 for gas annually. Good practices can save: $400 annually for a gas fryer by cutting four hours of idle time per day.

Notes on Fryer Application

  • Fryers are often used for appetizers and specific entrees.
  • Capacity is determined by how many pounds of French fries a fryer can cook in one hour. Typically this is calculated by roughly doubling the oil tank capacity of a fryer. A 40 gallon fryer should produce between 75 and 80 pounds of french fries per hour.
  • Countertop models have much less capacity than floor models and are typically used for very small volume applications.
  • Larger volume kitchens purchase multiple tank floor fryer units or put several smaller floor units in series next to each other. This is especially useful for frying different food types simultaneously. Avoid flavor transfer from one type of food to another by using the same heating oil.

The Importance of Bar Layout and Design from Krowne

Building stainless steel bar equipment from the ground up entirely in the U.S.A. requires a lot of people, knowledge, machinery and material. Krowne has spent nearly 68 years refining and mastering the process involved in producing underbar equipment and refrigeration that has led us to become a leader in the industry. It may seem logical that our focus lies solely on the manufacturing and shipping of underbar equipment.

What many people are not aware of is the constant research and development done by our Bar Layout and Design specialists in an effort to evolve our product offerings. The main goal is to create more efficient bar layouts that not only benefit the restaurant owner, but the patrons as well. Our efficient and ergonomic layouts facilitate a more profitable bar through innovative designs that reduce the amount of movement required to prepare a drink.

A well designed bar WILL pay for itself.

It would be easy to simply accept a project, build it to exact customer specs and ship it out. However, at Krowne we like to take it a step further and understand why the customer is designing it a certain way. Do they want the bartenders to use multiple workstations? How many bartenders will be working concurrently? Will this bar have wine, spirits and beer? These are all very important questions because they directly correlate to our layout decisions. After various field studies we have determined that our efficient layouts not only increase profits and efficiency at a bar, but also boost bartender morale as they have a defined work space used to prepare drinks.

We are also innovators of bar ergonomics. We are constantly redesigning bar equipment to keep the bartender facing the customer as often as possible. To do this we have created places to keep liquor, wine, beer and mixers all in the front of the bar. From bartenders to restaurant owners to the patrons they serve, we have you covered.

We don’t just build bars, we design them!

Picking the Right Warewashing Machine

When picking the right warewashing machine for your operation, here are the three main questions you should be asking before your dish machine selection is made:

1) How many pieces will each patron use? Pieces refer to the number of plates, dishes, glasses, and utensils used by each patron during their dining experience. The utensil set is considered one piece.

2) The maximum number of seats in the dining room to be occupied during any given serving period

3) The number of patron turns in an hour

The average amount of “pieces” to be used by a patron during a dining experience is as follows:

1) Casual restaurant 3 to 4 pieces

2) Fine dining 10 to 12 pieces

3) College Dining Hall 4 to 6 pieces

4) Hospital 4 to 6 pieces

5) Hotel Banquet Hall 10 to 15 pieces

Here are some typical production rates for Champion dishwashers:

1) Champion undercounter dishwasher 925 pieces per hour

2) Champion door-type dishwasher 1,525 pieces per hour

3) Champion rack conveyor dishwasher 4,000 to 7,000 pieces per hour

4) Champion flight-type dishwasher 7,000 to 15,000 pieces per hour

Other notes to consider when picking a dishmachine:

1) Determine what width you want for your dishwasher (typical widths are 24” or 29”)

2) Take the potential growth of your operation into consideration and try to buy a dishwasher that will accommodate growth

3) Decide what the largest item in your operation will go through the dishwasher and make sure the unit is wide and tall enough to accommodate

4) Take your labor force and the flow of the dish washing area into consideration

Written by Drew O’Quinn, Vice President, Thompson & Little, Inc.

Tips for Purchasing Hand Sinks

Hand Sinks are an absolute necessary in any kitchen operation. They should be readily available and visible throughout the food service operation. Here are some helpful tips in picking out a hand sink for your operation, the location of those hand sinks, and the number of hand sinks you need.

1. Always determine what your local health code states about the use of hand sinks. It is best to consult your local health inspector before moving forward with your decision.

2. As a rule of thumb, kitchens should have one hand sink for every 5 employees

3. There should be one hand sink for every 300 square feet of facility space

4. There should be one hand sink for each prep and cooking area in the kitchen operation

5. Operators should have a hand sink in every work station

6. Washing of hands helps prevent the spread of food borne illnesses, so you can’t have too many hand sinks in your operation

7. It is advisable to always purchase a hand sink that is NSF certified. ADA certified hand sinks are also available to allow for wheelchair access.

There are many upgrades and advancements in hand sink technology. You can purchase hands-free operations with an electronic eye, and there are new models that use the running of the water to re-generate the battery for the electronics of the hand sink. You can also purchase splash guards as an option on either side of your hand sink. Should you need a portable or mobile hand sink, come and speak with one of our Sales Reps!

We recommend quality hand sinks made by Advance Tabco.

Written by Drew O’Quinn, Vice President, Thompson & Little, Inc.

Smart Kitchen Designs To Stimulate Profits And Growth

There is no question that the franchise model has evolved over the years. In today’s landscape, franchises have to be on the cutting edge, not only in business acumen, but also in kitchen efficiency. You have heard the stories of some franchises making one change to their kitchen operation, and in the process, saving millions of dollars given the economies of scale. While some franchises are bigger than others, every franchise has to start somewhere. Given that, I want to break down what constitutes a good kitchen design, as well as provide tips for saving money moving forward. Instead of learning as you go, why not know the right questions to ask up front?

When preparing a new design, it is imperative that the kitchen designer, architect, and owner keep the communication open and flowing. The architect provides crucial information to the kitchen designer, such as wall layouts, door sizes and access, and electrical and plumbing requirements. From the owner, the designer will need the anticipated foot traffic, number of meals served in a day, the types of food being offered, and a copy of the menu. Just as important, the owner needs to convey the theme and concept of the restaurant with the designer. In today’s market, presentation and showmanship are vital parts of many operations. There is an old saying in the food service industry: “If consumers are hungry, they eat it. If they want a dining experience, they eat out.” Make sure you give them that experience.

Once all the logistics and concepts are agreed upon, it is time to actually deliver on the design. Below is a list of items that should come with every good design:

-Food Service Equipment Schedule and Floor Plan Layout
-Electrical and Plumbing Rough-In Drawings (showing location and sizes of the rough-in)
-Submittal Book with cut sheets and written specifications for each piece of equipment
-Detail Shop Drawings for all Custom Equipment (i.e. fabrication, hoods, walk-ins)
-Walk-in Cooler/ Freezer Pit detail or Floor detail
-Wall Blocking Locations (if applicable)

There are other design variables that sometimes get overlooked in the process. Here are some points to take into consideration when finalizing the design:

-Door hinging: the direction in which doors swing open is crucial to your operation and space requirements
-Gas type: Always confirm the type of gas with the architect and designer before ordering
-Voltage and Phase: Always double-check that the voltage and phase requirements for each piece of equipment matches the rough-in drawings, as well as the submittal book
-Warranties: What are your expectations for the warranty on the project? Standard industry warranties are typically one year for parts and labor, and an additional four years for compressor parts. If you want an extended warranty, this needs to be addressed up front
-Dishwasher: Always verify the direction of operation if the dishwasher is a conveyor type. Also verify if the dishwasher is a single point connection or multi-point connection
-Color Selections: Many serving lines and display cases require that the end user provide a color selection for the laminate. This color scheme should be determined during the design phase of the project (not at the time of ordering)
-Energy Savings: There is a lot of great technology in today’s food service industry. Many products are EnergyStar rated, and other applications (such as fryers) offer new technology to reduce overhead and manpower. Ask your designer how they can leverage this new technology into your design. Some agencies even provide you a rebate for using this smart technology

Before any franchise opens, it will require an inspection by the health department. You will also be required to have an inspection for the exhaust hood and fire system, as well as the refrigeration system for the walk-in units. My suggestion would be to contact the health department and inspection agencies early in the design process and find out what regulations they will be looking for. Why not design the project around the proper regulations before ordering any of the equipment? It makes sense, and your inspections will go much smoother. The last thing you want is a bad inspection just days before you are trying to open.

With proper planning and a great design, your kitchen will provide you added profits and efficiency for years to come. With tight profit margins and the price of food and overhead on the rise, a well-designed kitchen can provide the efficiency and savings to make the difference.

NSF – What It Is and Why It Matters

If you regularly buy or sell commercial foodservice equipment and supplies, then you’re probably familiar with the NSF certification stamp that appears on any number of products from ladles to refrigerators. You may even know that NSF International (formerly the National Sanitation Foundation) is an independent, not-for-profit, third party that, among other things, tests and certifies foodservice equipment and supplies to verify that they meet or exceed NSF’s standards for cleanability, sanitation, and food protection. Items that pass the tests for materials, design, construction, and performance, get the NSF stamp.

I was recently asked, “so what does that mean? Am I required to buy NSF products for my commercial kitchen or not?”

The short answer is “it’s a really, really good idea.”


Health Code Compliance

Not all health departments require everything in your kitchen to be NSF Certified, but everything in your kitchen that is NSF Certified, will meet any health department requirements. NSF International closely monitors all jurisdictions to make sure that NSF standards meet or exceed federal, state, and local health codes. In the U.S. local health departments perform inspections to verify compliance. When reviewing an operation, inspectors can quickly and easily verify equipment compliance if they see an NSF certification mark. Not having certified equipment can often raise compliance issues and even put a new restaurant’s opening on hold.

Protect Your Customers and Your Operation

Your customers expect and deserve safe food. The CDC estimates that each year roughly 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. Easily cleanable, properly functioning food equipment is critical for any restaurant or commercial food service operation. Poorly designed or malfunctioning equipment can lead to cross-contamination and even a foodborne illnesses outbreak. According to the National Restaurant Association, even a single foodborne illness outbreak can cost an operation thousands of dollars. The costs come from loss of sales, negative media exposure, lawsuits, loss of reputation, and increased insurance premiums.

Satisfy Chain and Franchise Requirements

Often times, chains and franchises will require that equipment in their local operations be NSF Certified. In addition to the reasons above, this helps promote a culture of food safety within their organization. This can encourage additional safety measures, and improve employee morale and job satisfaction.

In general, before making any major equipment investment, it’s wise to ask your supplier to verify the item is NSF Certified. NSF International lists 22 food equipment standards that address the variety of products within a commercial kitchen including, but not limited to, ice machines, water heaters, food cooking and prep equipment, food carts, refrigerators, warewashing machines, thermometers, food storage containers, dinnerware, disposable gloves, oven mitts, and more.

For More Information

Phone: 910-484-1128

Fax: 910-484-0576


Thompson & Little
933 Robeson Street
Fayetteville, NC 28305