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Author Archives: Heather Hartley

correctional facilities equipment

What’s the Right Equipment for a Correctional Facilities Kitchen?

There are millions of people currently incarcerated in the U.S. Every single one of those prisoners is entitled to three meals a day. That’s a lot of food coming out of a lot of kitchens. It isn’t easy to run a correctional facilities kitchen because there are always a whole lot of mouths to feed. Do you know what kind of commercial kitchen equipment you need to get the job done? Do you know how to purchase cafeteria equipment and how to run a kitchen? Food is essential in any jail or prison. Now, you need to know the essentials of keeping a correctional facilities kitchen running smoothly and efficiently.

The Equipment in a Correctional Facilities Kitchen

There is a lot of food service equipment needed in any correctional facilities kitchen. Many correctional facilities provide food and shelter for thousands of inmates. In some facilities, meals may be conducted for all the inmates at once, while others may use shifts to get everyone fed. Either way, it’s up to the kitchen to provide safe and nutritious food for all the prisoners.

Of course, every correctional facilities kitchen needs certain basic equipment. A large, commercial refrigerator for food storage, a commercial oven, stovetops, and a commercial ice machine will all be necessary. The kitchen will also need a large prep area where food can be chopped and otherwise prepared for mealtimes. Don’t forget about the cafeteria equipment that will be needed, such as trays for carrying the food and utensils for serving and eating the food. Napkins, forks, (dull) knives, and spoons will all be needed. The kitchen workers will need tongs, large spoons and forks, and sharper knives in order to prepare and serve the food.

A Good Correctional Facilities Kitchen Design

Good use of space is essential in any correctional facilities kitchen. You need to make the most out of the space and still maintain a design that’s safe for the staff, the inmates, and the guards who may be working in the kitchen. Keep the prep areas near the food storage spaces.

The correctional facilities kitchen should also have sinks for washing food and utensils, and sinks and dishwashing areas for cleaning dishes and trays. May correctional facilities kitchen designs include a large, commercial dishwasher. These machines are capable of washing trays and the tools associated with food service.

Remember to have places to dispose of food waste and other trash as well. NO kitchen is complete without this. If you’re familiar at all with restaurant kitchen design or school kitchen design, you already have a good idea of how to design an efficient correctional facilities kitchen.

There were 2,162,400 people in federal and state prisons in 2016. That’s a lot of mouths to feed, and that’s why designed and equipping a great correctional facilities kitchen is so important.


school kitchen designer

Design Ideas for Your School Kitchen

School kitchen design is not only focused on the type of cafeteria equipment that’s best for the lunchroom. Foodservice equipment is only part of the story when it comes to school kitchen design. The trend for many school districts as reported by leading school kitchen design experts is how to make the student experience a more positive one.

Today’s School Kitchen Serves a Different Purpose

School lunchtime has always been a popular “subject” among students. The school cafeteria is the place where children meet for their meals and have a little social time together. Today, school kitchens are more focused on delivering healthy options and creating an environment in which children feel comfortable.

Of course, healthy meals start with efficiency — but that is not where the school kitchen designer job ends. Today, more and more school districts are looking to use LEED-certified building methods, which may involve energy efficiency, space for new food technologies, and creating a space that can evolve with new technologies with minimal investment.

On top of all the must-haves, there is always the budget that has to be considered. With some careful planning and a school kitchen designer, it might just be possible to have it all and stay within budget.

Some Ideas To Consider

Many school districts are doing away with the single-file line to the serving station and instead are setting up multiple serving stations. For example, there might be a fruit and salad station, a main course station, a station for veggies, and other offerings in a help-yourself area. There are studies that indicate placement of food determines which foods will fill up the plate. This design idea can help to boost the consumption of fresh fruit and veggies.

The school kitchen should be designed with efficiency in mind. There are a lot of meals that need to be prepared, so one of the best sources of input for school kitchen design are the people that are going to be cooking in the area. Your school kitchen designer should collect information from the kitchen staff to learn what is working and what is not with the current design.

A school kitchen designer is your best option for getting the right design for your school cafeteria. You can get all the must-haves and do it at the right price. For more information, please contact us today.


commercial ice machine

3 Signs Your Commercial Ice Machine Is On The Fritz

Commercial ice machines are a big part of food preparation and restaurant services. When your ice machine runs into trouble, it prevents you from properly serving your customers and forcing you to lose valuable sales.

But how do you know if your restaurant needs a new commercial ice machine? If you’re not sure if it’s time to have a new commercial ice machine installed in your restaurant, keep an eye out for these ice machine problems:

  1. The machine won’t turn on. Check the breaker box to make sure that power is flowing to your ice machine. If the power is on, but the ice machine isn’t, bring in a repair service. When a repair doesn’t fix the problem you’re having, it’s time to start thinking about purchasing food service equipment.
  2. The machine is short cycling. Short cycling is a huge waste of energy caused by a machine turning on and off rapidly several times throughout the day. Short cycling can sometimes be caused by overheating internal components or a faulty electrical connection. In either case, a short cycling ice machine will slow down the production of ice in the system and hike up your energy bill. If your ice machine routinely short cycles, it might be time to consider a new energy-efficient model.
  3. The machine leaks. Leaks can happen anywhere in your commercial ice machine. You might not notice a leak until there are puddles forming around the base of the equipment. Sometimes a leak will spill into the ice container of the machine and cause misshapen pieces of ice. Leaks can cause your machine to produce lower levels of ice, too. If your commercial ice machine routinely suffers from leaks despite regular maintenance and repairs, it might be time to contact a food service equipment company for a new machine.

It’s no secret the restaurant industry needs to be on the ball. In fact, the restaurant industry brought in up to $863 billion in sales just this year. To keep up with these sales, it’s important to have commercial kitchen appliances that can keep up with you.

Looking for high quality commercial kitchen appliances?

Thompson and Little offers commercial kitchen appliances like commercial ice machines, commercial refrigerators, and other food service equipment. To learn more about the appliances we offer or for information on our kitchen design services, contact Thompson and Little today.


school kitchen design

School Kitchen Design In Support of Efficiency

If there is one thing that really rises above the other things in school kitchen design it has to be an efficient design layout. School kitchens serve over 4 billion lunches alone annually. Preparing thousands of meals a day requires a finely tuned school kitchen design that is focused on efficiency.

Some school districts make the mistake of thinking that taking restaurant equipment like a commercial refrigerator and a few other pieces creates an efficient school kitchen design. Unfortunately, the right school kitchen design is not quite that simple.

What Can a Professional School Kitchen Designer Bring to the Table?

Getting the most out of your school kitchen space really depends on the experience of the person that is designing the space. An experienced school kitchen designer can help your school get more out of the kitchen space that is available but that is not all the right professional brings to the table.

Making the job easier for your kitchen staff is also a wonderful benefit of having your school kitchen professionally designed. The designer will consider your space then come up with a layout that enables workers to work more efficiently, and easier.

Other benefits of hiring a professional school kitchen designer include:

  • An easy way to purchase cafeteria equipment
  • Potential discounts on purchasing foodservice equipment
  • A perfectly designed kitchen that will provide years of functional service

There are added value benefits of using a pro to design your school kitchens like potential discounts on cafeteria equipment and foodservice equipment. The professional designer gets better rates on equipment than the average person. It can be a cost-savings to the school.

Perfect Designs

Your school kitchen sees a lot of wear and tear each day. There are a lot of students that are relying on an efficient kitchen to get the food out so they can get to class. The perfectly designed kitchen will help to ensure that food is cooked quickly and with ease so that students get the service that they deserve.

Take advantage of professional design for your school kitchen and get the highly functional, efficient your school deserves. Learn more about professional kitchen design, cafeteria equipment, and more today.


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
V.P.
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.


For More Information

Phone: 910-484-1128

Fax: 910-484-0576

Email: info@thompsonlittle.com

Thompson & Little
933 Robeson Street
Fayetteville, NC 28305