February 2019 Culinary Depot Blog Posts

    7 Restaurant Equipment Maintenance Tips for Commercial Kitchens

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    Owners spend countless hours researching restaurant equipment before deciding what’s right for their commercial kitchens. When their new equipment arrives, it’s like the kitchen chefs have a shiny new toy to play with. But soon that initial excitement wears off. And that equipment becomes just another tool in the kitchen. If not cared for properly, the unit will start to break down. Instead of ceasing operation completely, it might just become less efficient. The equipment will work harder to compensate, and this can lead to a more expensive electric bill as well as some more serious issues.

    When restaurant equipment stops operating, it often requires repairs that are quite pricy. And if that’s not bad enough, restaurants can also lose significant revenue from the break down. Consider a walk-in freezer full of steaks. If the unit breaks down and the steaks spoil, that restaurant will be fighting an uphill battle to recover those lost profits. A restaurant might even need to close down temporarily until its equipment is back up and running.

    Thankfully, there’s a way to minimize the risk of equipment failure. This post will cover 7 restaurant equipment maintenance tips that will keep your commercial kitchen operating at its full potential.


    Commercial Refrigeration Equipment


    refrigerator maintenance


    Whether you’re maintaining a commercial refrigerator or a freezer, protocol is going to be similar. Here are a couple of maintenance tips that will help you get the most out of your refrigeration equipment:

    Gaskets – Gaskets are the part of a freezer or refrigerator that provide a tight seal when the unit is closed. They help keep cold air inside the unit and prevent it from escaping. If gaskets start to weaken over time, the refrigerator will have to work harder to keep its temperature cold. Regularly inspect your gaskets for splits or cracks and replace them as necessary. You’ll also want to keep your gaskets clean, as dirt and grease can cause problems down the line. It’s common for restaurants to pay services that come in and regularly replace gaskets. But if you want to save some money, you can also change gaskets yourself.

    Coils – Condenser coils are what keep your refrigerator or freezer cold. They do so by taking any hot air inside the unit and blowing it out. This is why it’s often hot right outside a refrigerator’s condenser. If a condenser gets clogged with dust and other debris, your refrigerator will struggle to maintain lower temperatures. This is one of the most common reasons why commercial refrigeration units malfunction and require maintenance. And it’s why you should try to clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils once every 3 months.


    Commercial Fryers


    commercial fryer maintenance


    Cleaning your commercial fryer not only prolongs its lifespan, but it also ensures your fried foods taste better. Furthermore, allowing excessive grease to pile up in your gas floor fryer can result in contaminated fried food. Something you certainly don’t want.

    Daily Cleanings – At the end of each night, wipe down the exterior of your commercial gas deep fryer and clean its baskets of any lingering grease. The best way to do this is by simply running the baskets through your dishwasher. Always make sure that the fryer baskets are completely dry before they’re returned to the tank.

    Boil Outs – To remove the stubborn fat that adheres to your fryer’s tank, you’ll need to execute a complete boil out. Protocol for boil outs vary from unit to unit. So be sure to reference your owner’s manual before performing one.


    Commercial Ranges


    commercial range maintenance


    Similar to fryers, restaurant ranges have different designs and should be maintained according to what’s outlined in the owner’s manual. That said, here are a few cleaning tips that every range owner can follow.

    Burner Maintenance - If grease gathers in the burner of a commercial gas range, it can lead to incomplete combustion. This results in your range functioning less efficiently and an increased risk of a carbon monoxide leak. A lethal gas that’s both scentless and odorless, carbon monoxide is the last thing you want in your kitchen. And that’s why it’s so important to clean your ranges’ burners on a daily basis.

    Clean the Grates – A build-up of stubborn grease will often form on your ranges’ grates. If a simple wipe down does not remove the grease, you’ll have to soak the grates in warm soapy water. And if that doesn’t work, you might have to use something stronger like ammonia and let the grates soak for a few hours. Grates that are left dirty can prematurely age your unit and also present a fire hazard.

    Check Your Exhaust Hoods – If too much grease builds up in the exhaust hood, your kitchen will not ventilate properly. Its air will be thick, and your chefs will be uncomfortable. Even worse, a greasy exhaust hood will lead to an increased risk of a kitchen fire. Depending on the amount of cooking you do, an exhaust hood should be cleaned once every 30-90 days.


    Knowledge can be helpful when it comes to restaurant equipment maintenance. But the only thing that really matters is that you’re diligent about taking care of your equipment. It takes hard work to maintain a thriving commercial kitchen. And getting educated is just the first step. Now it’s time to roll your sleeves up and put your knowledge to work!

    5 Things to Know Before Opening a Rooftop Bar

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    Rooftop bars are becoming increasingly popular in big cities. By offering a truly unique dining experience, they give patrons more reason than ever to spend a night on the town. This post will cover 5 things you need to know if you’re thinking about opening a rooftop bar.


    Why People Love Them


    rooftop bar manhattan


    The View

    The first question anyone asks about a rooftop bar is, “How’s the view?” Food, cocktails, and service are important. But they all take a backseat to the all-mighty “view.” Perched high atop cities, rooftop bars offer incredible sight lines of impressive buildings and the bustling pedestrians below. Dinner and a show has long been heralded as a classic night out. Eating and drinking while taking in a brilliant view of the city is just that.


    The Fresh Air

    There’s a reason why outdoor eating areas see the most competition for seating. When the weather is nice, nothing complements a delicious meal like some beautiful fresh air. And while sidewalk dining areas in the city are sometimes plagued with the smell of car exhaust, a rooftop bar allows patrons to escape the stench. The air on top of a building is cleaner and more breathable, which leads to a better overall experience.


    The Environment

    Even though a rooftop bar might be only a few stories above ground level, it can feel like a different world. For a patron who had a rough day at work and is frustrated with the city, a rooftop bar can help him see things from a different view—both literally and figuratively.


    Climate is Key


    rooftop bar miami


    If you’re thinking of opening a rooftop bar in a colder part of the country, keep in mind it will likely be closed for half the year. A few outdoor heaters can make the cold weather more bearable in the fall and spring. But nobody wants to relax outside in sub-freezing temperatures. During times like those, it won’t matter how spectacular your view is. Your rooftop bar will not be on anyone’s to-do list. On the flipside, places in warmer parts of the country are perfect for year-round business.


    Design Plan


    rooftop bar waterfront


    If you decide to take on the task of opening a rooftop bar, you’ll need to determine whether it will also serve food or just beverages. If you opt to serve food, you’ll need to designate more space for tables and seating. But if your rooftop is drinks only, you’ll have more room for other things. Cozy couches are a popular choice. And you might even have enough space for a dance floor. Club-like rooftop bars can be tricky though, as you’ll likely need to monitor your music’s volume closely.


    Consider Your Clientele


    rooftop bar clientele


    Every bar and restaurant has a different set of regular customers. Keep these people in mind when designing your rooftop bar. For instance, you won’t want to open a club-like rooftop area if the majority of your patrons are older. And if your customers like to order food with their drinks, you’ll want to offer food in addition to drinks on your rooftop area.


    Get the Right Permits


    rooftop bar construction


    As you might expect, there’s plenty of red tape when it comes to opening a rooftop bar. If you’re leasing space, you’ll need to speak to your landlord about doing construction. And when the rooftop bar is completed, your lease will likely need to be re-negotiated. Elevators, gas hook-ups, and restaurant equipment are just a few things you’ll need to account for when altering space of the roof. Many of these require permits and can take a long time until they’re completed. So plan accordingly.


    Like any restaurant endeavor, opening a rooftop bar comes with its fair share of risk. But if you do your research, know your customers, and collaborate with the right construction company, your rooftop bar has a good chance of being the talk of the town.

    What is a Coney Dog?

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    Each year, thousands of spectators flock to Brooklyn on July 4th to witness the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest. But despite the contest’s location in the heart of Coney Island, none of the eaters will be consuming actual Coney Dogs. If you’re now asking yourself, “What is a Coney Dog,” then keep reading. This post will answer just that.


    Coney Dog Ingredients


    coney dog ingredients


    The foundation for a Coney Dog is made with a hot dog or sausage that's been grilled or boiled. But aside from that, there is no one recipe. Some Coney Dogs are topped with chili or ground beef. Others feature mustard and onions.  And some have all three! Sauces are also often used to give the dish a little extra kick. Since different regions of the country have their own preferences, the ingredients used in each Coney Dog largely depend on where you’re located.  


    Coney Dog Origin


    coney island early 1900s


    The term “hot dog” was often misinterpreted in the early 1900s. To many immigrants who spoke little English, a dog was a furry friend with four legs. So when a piece of meat was advertised as “dog,” people raised a few eyebrows. As a result, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce outlawed the term “hot dog.” Vendors adjusted, and the food item soon became known as a “Coney Island.” The modern day Coney Dog is a variation of that. Greeks and Macedonians who passed through Coney Island upon immigrating are credited with taking the classic “Coney Island Hot Dog” and making it the “Coney Dog” people know and love.


    Where are Coney Dogs Most Popular?


    detroit michigan


    Today, Coney Dogs are most popular in the South and Midwest United States. States like Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas all put their own unique spin on the dish. Ingredients used even vary by each city within a given state.

    Take Michigan for example. Ground zero for Coney Dog lovers, the state generally uses Vienna-style sausages rather than hot dogs. Despite that, there is still plenty of variation in how Coney Dogs are prepared and served.

    • Detroit – The biggest metropolitan area in the state is known for serving bean-less chili sauce atop its Coney Dogs.
    • Flint – Coney Dogs in Flint are topped with finely-ground beef heart. Trimmed from the muscles of the heart wall, beef heart is considered a muscle but still has blood vessels in it. So if that’s not your thing, you might want to opt for another city’s Coney Dog.
    • Kalamazoo – These Coney Dogs are made with a topping derived from a local product called Koegel’s Skinless Frankfurter.
    • Jackson – Despite Michigan’s reputation for using Vienna sausages, Jackson’s Coney Dogs are made with traditional hot dogs. Along with onions, spices, and mustard, these Coney Dogs are also topped with ground beef or ground beef heart sauce that’s especially hearty.


    If you’re ready to take the leap and try a Coney Dog, be sure to do some research first. Since different restaurants have their own way of making the dish, you’ll want to scout them out beforehand. See which Coney Dog is best for your specific taste and then have at it.