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Guide to Choosing a Commercial Range
The commercial range is an absolutely essential component of most commercial kitchens. You can use it to boil, steam, fry, sautÃ©, sizzle, sear and much more. It’s your go-to tool for sauces, pastas, vegetables, and even meats. In some restaurants, it’s more important than the broiler. That’s why it’s necessary to choose the correct range for your kitchen. There are a few things you are going to need to know, and this guide will help you work it out.
Types of Commercial Ranges
You have a lot of options when it comes to commercial ranges. Which you choose will depend on the type of cooking you are doing in your restaurant, where the range will be on your line and what type of cookware you will use on that range. There are two basic types that you find in most restaurants.
Restaurant commercial ranges are very common in the food industry. You will see them in diners, cafes, restaurants and caterers. They work well on lines with limited space, as they are compact but do their job well. They are recommended for commercial environments where they will produce 250 meals or less per day.
Restaurant ranges are stand-alone pieces of equipment with rear gas connection and a variety of sizes. They are suitable for most commercial kitchens. Only the very busiest kitchens need something more durable. That’s good because they are not as expensive as their larger, more adaptable counterparts.
Heavy Duty Commercial Ranges
Heavy duty ranges are best for kitchens that are pumping out more than 250 meals per day. They are made with thicker metal, more welds and higher BTU output. Because of this, they are more expensive. However, you can customize your kitchen more with a heavy duty range, because you can bank them together with other appliances. That is why you will find the gas connections on the front or side of heavy duty ranges.
Wok Commercial Ranges
Asian restaurants really benefit from having a wok range. These specialty commercial ranges are designed to accommodate the round bottom of woks. They also put off more BTUs so that the pan heats up sufficiently for stir-fry cooking. While they are not completely necessary, food cooked in a wok will heat much more evenly with the proper equipment.
Stock Pot Commercial Ranges
A stock pot range is an unusual piece of equipment. In most restaurants, cooks must lift heavy pots of liquid up onto high ranges. In some cases, it causes spillage and burns. The stock pot range is situated lower to the floor so cooks do not have to lift heavy pots. If your kitchen does a lot of soups or stocks, you may want to consider putting one of these in your restaurant.
Size Considerations for Commercial Ranges
Several factors are going to dictate the size of your commercial range. Firstly, you have to consider the size of your kitchen. If it does not fit, it will not work. Secondly, you will have to consider how much range you actually need. You don’t want too many burners taking up space. You definitely don’t want too few or your cooks will be behind all the time.
Range widths vary from 12″ to 72″ with the most common widths being 36″, 48″ and 60″. Measure the space you have on the floor for the range. Do not forget to also measure the hood fans above your range. The most common regulation for hoods over ranges is at least 6″ on either side past the width of the range. Therefore, if you have a 12″ range, you will need a 24″ hood. Always check what the local safety codes are in your town.
What is going to be on your menu? Are you serving mostly grilled meats? Do you do breakfast only? Are you cooking up a lot of sauces and pasta dishes? If your menu is mostly broiled, you may only need a burner or two for sauces. If you’re doing just breakfast, you may not need a range at all. A griddle could better suit your operation, though most restaurants need at least one or two burners. If you are doing a lot of pastas and sauces, you’re definitely going to need more range than a breakfast restaurant. Consider all of this before committing to a commercial range.
There isn’t much flexibility in regard to the top of a range. Still, there are a few options, each with strengths and weaknesses.
The most common range configuration is the open gas burner. These have open flame beneath a metal grid where you place your pots and pans. A hot top has a smooth surface that makes gliding heavy pots around easier. It’s less popular for sautÃ©. Finally, there is the French top or tubular electric top. These are fairly uncommon in commercial settings.
Griddle tops are completely smooth and heat up evenly all over. They are perfect for breakfast. They also come in handy for grilled sandwiches, vegetables, kabobs and much more. You can have a stand alone griddle top in many sizes or you can opt for a combination. A combination has burners and a griddle top. This way, one piece of equipment does double the work.
Accessories and Add-Ons for Commercial Ranges
Accessories and add-ons really let you customize your commercial range to your kitchen’s needs. Some let you free up space on your range. Others utilize the space around the range in clever ways, so you are not wasting any room in your kitchen. Virtually all commercial kitchens combine their equipment like this for efficiency and ease of use.
Placing an oven underneath your commercial range is a big space saver. You can cut the floor space needed for these two essential items in half by combining them. A base beneath the range is perfect for cooking baked potatoes, seafood, breadsticks and meats without having to move to another station or go out back. The heat isn’t as even as a dedicated convection oven, so don’t plan on baking cakes in it, but an oven base is fine for baked potatoes and those small items you cook to order.
Salamanders are fairly common in modern restaurants. They are open infrared ovens that look a bit like toaster ovens. You can slide open-face sandwiches, meats and even small pizzas into them. They come in handy for finishing up steaks, melting cheese and keeping sizzle plates sizzling. Place them above your commercial range so cooks have easy access.
You will often hear cheese melters called salamanders, but they are slightly different. They use tube elements and are less aggressively hot. You can melt cheese, as their name suggest, or hold food in them. They are not ideal for cooking meats or veggies. If you need something for that, opt for a salamander. It isn’t great for holding food because it will overcook it, but it puts off enough heat for cooking.
Griddle broilers are space-saving broilers tucked away under raised griddles. You can use them like salamanders or cheese melters. They’re great for stations that need to melt cheese before plating. The main difference between a griddle broiler and a salamander is placement. Griddle broilers tend to be low. Salamanders and cheese melters are usually mounted on the wall.
Casters are small swiveling wheels that go on the bottom of your range. They allow you to roll the range around when you need to clean behind and beneath your equipment. They also lock into place for safety. You will save your employees a lot of effort with this simple add-on. Without them, it takes several people to move a big range. Your kitchen will be cleaner when staff can get around equipment easier.
Caster ramps are a good tool for ensuring your range goes back exactly where it was after you move it. This will keep your hoods aligned with your range properly so you don’t have any problems with local regulations. If you move your equipment often or it doesn’t fit snugly between other pieces of equipment, caster ramps can help.
A storage base gives you more room for pots, pans and sheet trays. It keeps them tucked out of the way and easily accessible. You can also use it for dish buckets on busy nights. Cooks can place their dirty dishes in buckets under the range and out of the way.
Electronic Burner Ignition
Electronic ignitions eliminate the need for a pilot light, though they are more costly in the initial purchase. Replacement is also costly. Consider your purchase budget before opting for electronic ignition. While it will save a small amount on your energy bill in the long haul, it may not be feasible in the beginning.
Additional Lengths of Hose
Gas hose can give you a lot more leeway when you place your range in your kitchen. It will let you move the range more freely and put it farther away from gas sources. Hoses with quick disconnect keep things simple.
Using this guide, equipping your kitchen with the right range should be as easy as taking a few measurements and looking at your menu. The food will dictate your needs and the needs of your cooks. If in doubt, ask them what type of range they think would work best for your restaurant’s needs. They will know what works best.