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Let’s Plan Together to be Ready for the Holidays

Woman chef inside a commercial kitchen

By: Michael Angello – Branch Manager, Tucson

And as quick as a flash its that time of year again. The days are getting shorter, and temperatures are trending downwards, yes, it’s fall! For the foodservice industry it’s time to think about preparing for the busiest time of year, that all important Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday period, during which the greatest demand will be put not just on foodservice workers, but also the vital equipment they use.

Preparation for this holiday period is twofold, both the kitchen and rooftop need to be considered. Firstly, is your kitchen equipment ready for increased usage and secondly is your roof top ready for the change in weather?

Planning for this holiday season in particular throws up an additional challenge which is familiar to all of us working in or supporting the foodservice industry, a shortage of labor! This shortage is not only being felt by end users but also their vendors including equipment service companies. So, this year more than any other, we encourage kitchen managers to ‘jump in’ early with their planning, to ensure there will be adequate time to complete any commercial appliance repairs needed, keeping in mind the capacity issues facing the industry.

Here is a list of things we encourage you to review and address as necessary.

Kitchen

Oven Door Gaskets – If you find that your ovens are not keeping temperature this may be the culprit. During the rush there is no time for extra cook cycles or rework, door gaskets will keep your ovens operating at the correct temperature.

Boilers descaled – Your steam equipment has been running strong all year, now it needs to be in overdrive. To prevent downtime, that you don’t have, get your steam equipment descaled. This will ensure the boilers are clear and may find other issues before they become problem.

Water filters changed – This keeps the water flowing to your equipment. Once a water filter plugs up, the equipment is now useless until you can change them. This also ensures treated water is being supplied to your equipment to minimize scale.

Ice Machines cleaned and sanitized – Ice machines are the work horse of the kitchen. They are always on and making ice. With hard water, even filtered water, scale will build up and must be removed to ensure you have the production you need to continue serving. When the ice machine goes down you may be stuck buying ice or out completely. For one less headache during the busy season make sure your ice machine is ready to go.

Thermostats calibrated – When there is time to spare, it is a good idea to have all your thermostats checked and calibrated as needed. This goes for refrigerated equipment as well, with all the extra food you will have on hand, you do not want to throw away product that has been stored at improper temperatures. If your refrigeration is marginal, the extra storage may push it over the edge and into the temperature danger zone.

Gas hoses inspected\changed – While checking/calibrating your thermostats it only takes a few extra minutes to inspect your hoses. This will identify one that may fail and render one of your most important pieces of equipment un-useable. Or worst of all, a gas leak that will take the entire kitchen down.

Inspect and clean refrigeration evaporator and condenser coils and fans – This will maximize the cooling potential for your refrigerated equipment. Performing a cleaning will also identify any issues with the refrigeration circuit before you load it up with food. You will also eliminate the worry about a health inspector showing up on your busiest day as you have prepared.

Rooftop

HVAC – Replace air filters and clean coils – This will ensure when transitioning into the heating season your building is maintaining the temperature needed. Plugged coils and dirty filters will hamper air flow and may even trip a high limit causing your HVAC unit to malfunction or not work at all.

HVAC – Replace belts – While cleaning the coils and changing the filters the other important aspect is your belts. A worn belt will slow down the blower and the air circulating in the building. A broken belt will prevent the HVAC unit from running at all. It may also cause an OT service call, as it is almost a rule that the belt must break at night or on the weekends.

Evaporative Coolers/make up air – Winterize your unit – This is a little bit of proactive maintenance. Shut down the water circuit, drain and clean the sump, change the pads, and drain the water line going to the make up air. This allows your make-up air to keep running optimally and sets you up for an easy switchover in the spring for cooling season.

If this list looks daunting and you need support taking inventory of your equipment’s condition, then your service company should be able to help. If you have an existing planned maintenance program this will be significantly easier.

General Parts Group Has You Covered

General Parts Group understands that the foodservice industry must grasp opportunity when it is available, turning tables has never been more important! We are seeing technicians returning and we are training more new technicians than ever, so we expect these shortages to be temporary but while we ramp up our capacity, we believe that taking this step to accelerate holiday planning should alleviate many last-minute emergencies.