Foodservice Equipment & Supplies
Kitchen Layout & Design
Custom Fabrication

Author Archives: Heather Hartley

purchase cafeteria equipment

3 Tips for School Cafeteria Design

Cafeteria equipment doesn’t seem like something that comes with a lot of choices — as long as the students get to eat lunch, what else is there? You may be surprised to learn that there are actually many considerations to be taken when a school kitchen designer puts together a space that is functional for both students and staff.

These 3 tips for kitchen cafeteria design will hopefully help you think differently about your cafeteria equipment and design.

Create a Flexible Space

The most important aspect of school kitchen design is making sure it’s streamlined to get students back to their classes as quickly and efficiently as possible. When you need to purchase cafeteria equipment, make sure it has the flexibility and flow needed to keep students moving smoothly from station to station.

Over time, you may even want to have the freedom to rearrange your dining area cafeteria equipment. School cafeterias are more than just a place to grab lunch — they’re also a place of socialization and relaxation for many students. They shouldn’t feel like they have to solve a math problem just to eat.

Meet Your Student Capacity

School cafeterias are lost if they cannot meet student capacity. Purchase cafeteria equipment that is not only long-lasting but also durable and reliable enough to withstand hundreds or thousands of students every day. Food service equipment needs to be dependable so that you can continue to serve your students without worrying about a breakdown or loss in capacity.

Encourage School Pride

Commercial kitchen appliances don’t always leave a lot of room for students to take on cleaning tasks themselves, but there are still ways that you can encourage school pride in the cafeteria. By setting up cleaning stations and areas for students to return their dishes and trays, you are encouraging them to take care of their environment and their school. Nearly 5 billion school lunches are served annually, making the school food industry larger than the largest U.S. restaurant chain.

That kind of effort takes responsibility from all parties to keep things running smoothly, including the students. When you purchase cafeteria equipment, keep the students in mind when you’re thinking of clean-up; the staff will thank you and the students will be encouraged to take care of their surroundings.

Purchasing food service equipment is a careful business that needs a lot of thought. Thankfully, you’re not alone in your decision-making process. Let Thompson & Little help you outfit your school cafeteria with the latest essential equipment for your school. Contact our team today to get started.

restaurant equipment company

How To Pick the Right Ice Machine for Your Establishment

There are a lot of things to consider in restaurant kitchen design and even more to consider in commercial kitchen equipment. Ice machines are typically a part of the equation. A restaurant equipment company can offer several different types and sizes of ice machines.

Having some basic understanding of what type and size of ice machine will best support your activity will help you to make an informed decision. Following these tips can help you decide which option is best.

Your Three Main Considerations

A restaurant equipment company will have three main options that you will have to choose from. Understanding what these options mean will help you to make the right choice:

  • What type of ice do you want your machine to make? Cubed, crushed or shaved?
  • What type of condenser do you want? Water cooled, a remote condenser, or air-cooled?
  • How much ice will you use in a day?

A restaurant equipment company can explain your options in detail but it is always a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of all your kitchen equipment. For example, the different condenser options for your ice machine can affect energy efficiency and performance.

Your Footprint

Purchasing foodservice equipment like an ice maker that will serve your kitchen well, not only depends on basic knowledge of the above factors but also highly depends on the footprint of the equipment.

Your new ice maker can only be as large as the space you have available. The footprint of the ice maker (the floor space that it will take up) is another thing you will need to factor in.

How Do I Figure Out How Much Ice I Will Use in a 24 Hour Period?

There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to figuring out how much ice you should plan for each day. Here are some examples:

  • For restaurants on average, it is about 2 pounds of ice each day.
  • For bars it is about 3 pounds of ice per seat in the bar per day.
  • Hospitals and other institutions can use about 10 pounds of ice per bed per day.
  • School cafeterias can use about 1.5 pounds of ice per student and staff member.

Using the above estimates can help you to determine the amount of ice you will need for your business or organization.

A Reliable Restaurant Equipment Company Can Help

The right restaurant equipment company can help you to decide which ice machine is best for your operation. Be prepared to answer some questions about your needs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions, after all, they are the experts!

kitchen equipment

What Kind of Kitchen Equipment Do You Need?

Designing a commercial kitchen is a huge undertaking. There are a ton of things to consider and the kitchen equipment will make or break the space. You need to make sure that you have equipment that can handle the tasks you need to perform. But you also have to make sure you get equipment that’s the right size for the space you have and the amount of food you need to make. Do you know how to size kitchen equipment properly and where to go to get the right equipment for your space?

Choosing the Right Kitchen Equipment

Creating any kitchen design is a difficult task, but designing a commercial kitchen it even more complicated. You need to make the best possible use of the space available and you need to make sure that the kitchen is capable of serving a large number of meals all at once. When it comes to a correctional facilities kitchen, for example, it’s very likely that all the inmates will need to be served at once. This makes planning the kitchen design and choosing the kitchen equipment absolutely essential. There’s no room for error. For example, there were 2,162,400 inmates incarcerated in federal and state prisons in 2016. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.

Whether it’s a school kitchen design, a restaurant kitchen design, or any other type of commercial kitchen, the capacity is a paramount concern. How many people need to be served meals at one time? When you know this, you can start to create the design that’s going to work.

Determining what types of meals will be served will determine what types of food the staff have to work with. Will there be a lot of canned goods? A lot of fresh fruits and vegetables? In a restaurant, for example, most or all of the food is likely to be fresh. Meat products will need to be broken down into usable pieces. Vegetables and fruits will need to be cut up. In a correctional facilities kitchen, on the other hand, there may be a lot of canned or pre-prepped foods. Knowing what you’re working with is an essential element of choosing the right commercial kitchen design.

In a kitchen where a lot of cans will be used to prepare meals an industrial can opener is essential. A professional slicer may be needed in the kitchen where there will be a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t forget to include counter space in professional kitchen design. There need to be counter areas for food prep tasks to happen. Food storage is another important consideration. Freezers and walk-in coolers are an integral part of kitchen equipment. Professional kitchens of all kinds must also have an industrial oven and plenty of stove space with burners for cooking. Is a microwave needed? In many restaurants, a microwave isn’t needed. In other types of commercial kitchens, however, this may be a much-needed piece of equipment.

Make a list of all the tasks your kitchen needs to complete to start getting a sense of the specific kitchen equipment you need.

Designing a Professional Kitchen

When you know the type of kitchen equipment you need and the number of people who need to be served food, you can start getting serious about designing a professional kitchen.

It’s important to be practical when designing a kitchen and placing kitchen equipment. The sink should be near the area where the food is being prepped. The placement of the sink and the oven will determine the rest of the kitchen design because these items cannot simply be put anywhere. The sink needs water lines and piping, which is sometimes determined by many factors that have nothing to do with the kitchen itself. The oven and stove areas may need to be hooked up to gas pipes and/or electricity. Once these items are in place, the rest of the kitchen equipment can be placed to complete a practical design.

Designing a professional kitchen and choosing the right kitchen equipment starts by answering some basic questions. From there, the rest of the space will start to come together.

cafeteria equipment

The Importance of Choosing the Right School Cafeteria Equipment

With 4.9 billion school lunches served each year, the school cafeteria industry handles more meals than the biggest restaurant chains in the United States. When selecting school cafeteria equipment, it’s important to choose wisely. Here are some points to ponder before you select commercial kitchen equipment for your school’s cafeteria.

Why the Right Equipment Is Important

Good nutrition is essential to students’ ability to perform well in the classroom. While the kind of food provided in a school cafeteria is a crucial consideration, the kind of equipment that aids in the preparation and storage of lunches is just as important. Nutritionists know that the way in which a meal is made is directly related to the healthfulness of the meal. Another consideration is that certain pieces of school cafeteria kitchen equipment are tough to clean, and this can create health problems for students who consume food produced by unsanitary equipment.

Selecting the Right Equipment

Before you purchase cafeteria equipment, either for a new facility or to replace current models, consider your school’s budget. Commercial kitchen equipment designed to produce meals for a large number of people can be costly, and you will have to weigh the need for each piece against the limits of your budget.

Many schools currently use traditional kitchen equipment for food preparation, like oven ranges and stovetops, but others have chosen more modern pieces, like convection ovens. In selecting equipment, you’ll need to consider not only each piece’s efficiency but also its effect on nutrition and the ease or difficulty of cleaning it properly.

Choosing Dishwashers and Storage Equipment

The first items most people consider when they think of a school cafeteria kitchen are ovens and stoves. But the cafeteria equipment for food storage and washing dishes is also crucial. Freezers and refrigerators keep food fresh, a must for safety. These pieces of equipment should be resistant to mildew and mold, which can cause health problems for students. Dishwashers need to be able to handle an enormous number of plates, cups, pots, pans, and utensils, or else they will also cause health problems.

Choosing the Right Ovens

More modern oven models have given school nutritionists the chance to broaden nutritional choices. If an oven has newer functions and features, it can allow nutritionists to come up with a wider range of menu options. Broiling, baking, and grilling generally produce healthier foods than frying, and they allow for a given type of food to be made in different ways. Students appreciate the expanded options that allow them to make healthier choices.

The Most Valuable Features of Cafeteria and Buffet Equipment

It may be tempting to opt for inexpensive cafeteria line equipment, but be aware that these pieces may be poorly constructed and therefore may not last long, making them a bad investment. Such cafeteria and buffet equipment are usually made of lower quality stainless steel, and this material can quickly become deformed. They also contain wells that are heated only from the bottom, thereby raising labor and energy costs. Furthermore, these units may lack the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification, which will prompt the local food department to deny approval of the units for use in food handling. If your equipment lacks the necessary features, your operating costs will be significantly higher, and the equipment will have a short life span.

Look for a Supply Company that Offers a Wide Range of Equipment

In addition to standard cafeteria equipment like ovens, stoves, and dishwashers, you should consider newer options, such as griddles, grills, products designed for portion control, induction ranges, and steam table equipment. The more equipment you can afford, the more choices you can offer students and staff as they move through the cafeteria lines

Set Up Serving Stations for Different Foods

This eliminates the usual straight line students have to wait in and enables them to go straight to the kinds of food they want. This is a faster and more enjoyable way of filling plates.

Parents agree that their children’s nutrition is a top concern and the ways in which food is prepared and served matters. If you’re purchasing cafeteria equipment for your school, call our team to learn more about what we offer.

commercial kitchen design

9 Factors to Think about When You’re Designing Your Restaurant Kitchen

Restaurants are big business. In 2019, the industry grossed about $863 billion. If you want to open a restaurant, one of the key considerations is your kitchen design. Here are the nine crucial factors to discuss with your commercial kitchen design team.

1. Space Efficiency and Flexibility

Flexibility in your restaurant kitchen design is as important as flexibility in the entrees you offer. If you have daily specials or alter your offerings seasonally, you’ll need a kitchen layout that can adapt to changes. A modular kitchen that includes equipment on wheels can serve different functions at once. This will make you and your staff work more efficiently.

2. Simplicity of Design

The simpler your design, the more easily your employees can produce meals. If the layout is confusing, your employees will lose valuable time trying to figure it out. Minimize the amount of restaurant equipment, thereby saving space and money, and consider how the work might flow from one station to the next.

3. Plan the Kitchen Workflow

This is where your commercial kitchen design team comes in. It’s natural for kitchens to be noisy and crowded; that’s why working as a chef is exciting. However, there should be order within the chaos. Plan out work spaces according to tasks: dishwashing, inventory, storage, food prep, cooking, and serving. Then waste disposal and dishwashing can take place away from the commercial kitchen appliances in the chef’s area. This way servers leave the kitchen with entrees on one side as busboys take in dirty dishes and silverware on the opposite side.

4. Sanitation and Safety

Having a lack of wash stations is a critical error in commercial kitchen design. When considering drainboards, landing tables, and racks, think about how much silverware, plates, glasses, cups, and trays will pile up at your busiest times, and factor in how much your dishwashers can handle.

Food safety and health code practices should be utilized everywhere in the kitchen, by all of your employees. Although laying out the spaces for cooking and prepping is the more interesting design task, don’t forget that laying out cleaning areas is also crucial. Consider the places where soiled dishes will accumulate and where freshly washed stacks will go for easy accessibility by the staff.

5. Training and Supervising

Your commercial kitchen design should provide space in the back where the head chef can train and supervise other employees. It can be a challenge to hire and keep exceptional staff members, so it’s important to give them incentives for promotion in the back area of the kitchen. The head chef should be able to tour the kitchen and watch the employees’ activities.

6. Make Your Kitchen Energy Efficient

Restaurant kitchens use a great deal of energy, so much so that a large portion of your costs could go to energy. You can cut down on these costs by situating cooking appliances in a way that allows the exhaust hood to carry off hot air. This will help to cool the kitchen. Also, take care to place refrigerators away from equipment that generates heat so that your appliances won’t be overworked.

7. Ventilation

Just as it’s important to think about energy efficiency, it’s important to think about ventilation. Without good ventilation, the inside air quality will be poor due to odors and inadequate air circulation. The range fan should be running when the cooking begins, and the range hood filter should be switched out often. Also, consider designing your kitchen so that there’s room for air purifiers or fans in strategic areas, especially since the rear of the kitchen can get very hot.

8. Maintenance

The most common error people make in commercial kitchen design is not leaving sufficient space for maintenance. You need room for repair people to access broken equipment. Therefore carefully planning out the placement of all countertops and pieces of equipment is imperative. Go for a modular design that allows you to move work areas if necessary.

9. Technology

In the rear of the kitchen, technology should be accessible, flexible, and modular. Instead of using paper tickets, electronic display screens can improve the accuracy of orders and speed up serving by providing customized routing to prep areas.

Restaurant kitchen design is a complex process. Contact us today to learn more.

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.

For More Information

Phone: 910-484-1128

Fax: 910-484-0576


Singer T&L
933 Robeson Street
Fayetteville, NC 28305