Keeping Things Cool
By Angela Altass
When it comes to keeping things cool, convenience stores depend on having the right equipment for the job.
“Throughout the years, chilling and freezing equipment has become increasingly programmable to help operators eliminate guesswork for their staff and guarantee consistency and safety,” says Alto-Shaam’s Corporate Chef Joe Levesque. “Alto-Shaam QuickChillers feature an intuitive touchscreen control and four operational modes. Multiple pre-programmed menu selections allow ideal chilling conditions based on the type and density of the food.”
Alto-Shaam offers a variety of QuickChiller blast chillers designed to help convenience stores increase efficiency and safety while reducing labour in their foodservice programs, notes Levesque.
“Featuring an intuitive user interface and precise, programmable controls, QuickChillers improve food quality and consistency,” says Levesque. “Alto-Shaam’s blast chiller refrigeration systems are designed to rapidly and uniformly decrease the temperature of hot foods to either a chilled or frozen state well within HACCP (hazard analysis critical control points) code requirements.”
Proper chilling guarantees the freshest food quality and safety, notes Levesque.
“Refrigerators are for keeping cold food cold and are not made to rapidly chill hot or even ambient temperature foods,” explains Levesque. “To keep food out of the danger zone, operators can program chill modes for optimal operation. Alto-Shaam QuickChillers provide up to four preset chill modes for greater control, from soft chill to hard chill to freezing to holding at continuous refrigerated storage and automatic defrost.”
With QuickChillers, convenience stores can quickly cool down food at the highest quality after cooking, notes Levesque.
“This is a great solution for c-stores looking to provide cold take-home meal solutions for their customers to reheat at home,” says Levesque. “C-stores can cook regular menu items to inventory and chill safely and then later refresh as needed, reducing prep and cooking times. Specifically designed for small space operations, Alto-Shaam offers a range of QuickChiller sizes, including compact, easy to install models. To make the most of vertical space, the use of a self-contained blast chiller is available that can be placed under the counter or stacked with other cooking equipment.”
When choosing the right commercial refrigerators and freezers for your store, Ancaster Food Equipment realizes that it can be a big decision.
“We understand that it’s not every day that you purchase a commercial fridge or freezer,” says Bianca Roy, business development manager, Ancaster Food Equipment. “With so much information available online on just about every topic, purchasing a large and sometimes pricey piece of equipment can easily become overwhelming.”
Ancaster Food Equipment sells refurbished coolers and refrigerators and Roy feels these products are a good choice for convenience stores.
“We refurbish only the best product on the market and have limited ourselves to improving just one brand, True manufacturing,” states Roy. “True has been named the industry leader in commercial refrigeration for 17 consecutive years producing best in class coolers and refrigerators. As we focus on such a small range of products, we can specialize our efforts and become experts on our final product. In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to believe that bigger is best. At Ancaster Food Equipment, however, we’d have to disagree. While our selection of product is not as vast as other brands on the market, this is a conscious choice.”
Ancaster Food Equipment refurbishes one-door, two-door and three-door models of coolers and refrigerators.
“While it may seem limited, our customization options mean that we can accommodate every one of our customer’s requests, from basic and streamlined to decked out with accessories,” says Roy. “Our units are self-contained, which means that all the parts are in the bottom, as opposed to the walk-ins where the compressor is on the roof, which can be more difficult to work with. Convenience store owners already have so many items to worry about, and they don’t need to fuss over a fridge or freezer. They just have to plug the unit in and they are ready to go.”
When choosing the best equipment for your stores, Roy advises considering space availability. The use of vertical integration in unit design means that they take up very little floor space in terms of square footage but still retain high volumes of product, says Roy.
“Should a client choose to use gravity feeders to display their products, they are able to organize even more items at a time,” she adds. “Upright fridges and freezers take up a lot less space than chest freezers and will offer more room to sell.”
Roy also stresses the importance of considering the power source for the equipment.
“Make sure that you have the correct electrical requirements before purchasing a unit as opposed to after,” she says. “Time spent switching it later means less time selling products. Also, consider shopping local and shopping small and giving back to another small business.”
Some features can also play a role in keeping expenses down, notes Roy.
“All of our units boast self-closing doors,” says Roy. “This is perfect for convenience store selling as customers are sometimes in a rush, visiting on a lunch break from work for example, and may not always close the doors behind them. Self-closing doors mean that no cold air is lost and electricity bills won’t skyrocket. Glass doors, as opposed to solid doors, allow customers to see what product is inside the unit without having to open the door and let cold air out. Our units are also mounted on castors, making mobility and cleaning much easier.”
Buying refurbished is much cheaper than buying brand new, notes Roy.
“With Ancaster Food Equipment, convenience store owners still receive the same warranty that they would get if they were buying a brand-new unit, so they’re getting a comparable product for a fraction of the cost,” says Roy. “Our units keep the optimal temperature for convenience store foods like pop, milk, juice, eggs, etc. Our novelty freezers allow customers to reach in and grab their frozen products like ice cream bars on a hot day. Thoughtful placement of these freezers can encourage impulse purchases on a regular basis.”
Ancaster customers have the option to add a personalized touch to their equipment.
“Our customers can add their own custom artwork to our acrylic signs,” notes Roy. “This allows convenience store owners to create an eye-catching personalized display to inform customers of what their products are all about, be it sandwiches, drinks, or frozen goods. Our customers also have the option to choose LED lighting to give the spotlight over to their products and highlight their existing marketing. Vibrant lights allow customers to get a good look at all the inventory in the units and make informed decisions. We give our customers the option of black or white units to match their existing décor.”
When looking to add to the equipment already in your store or to replace an item, keep in mind the existing units already in place, says Roy.
“If you want your store to look seamless, ask to match existing fridge or freezer lighting, paint colour, signage and dimensions,” says Roy. “At Ancaster Food Equipment, we understand that product customization is the key to serving a diverse customer base successfully. Our refurbishment process requires us to strip the original unit down to just its’ cabinet. It also allows our clients to choose how they want their units to look from the ground up, while making little to no impact on the time it takes our technicians to rebuild or the cost to buy it.”
Whether choosing new or refurbished, making sure that equipment does the job as required gives store owners one less thing to stress about, which is good news.