When asked by Fast Company magazine to name a must-have kitchen gadget not yet invented, Suzanne Goin, chef-owner of Los Angeles’ Lucques and A.O.C. restaurants, chose a tool that would automatically load the dishwasher. While a hired dishwasher still must perform that task, warewashing machines have significantly lightened their load.
Andre Decker, chef at Spazzo Italian Grill & Wine Bar in Seattle, began his career as a dishwasher 20 years ago and spent many hours spraying, scraping and soaking dishes. “Today’s machines do it all, freeing up the dishwasher for other jobs, such as cleaning the walk-in or prepping on the line,” he says. Conveyor warewashers are his model of choice. “During peak service, we can put four or five racks of dishes through in 4 minutes,” Decker says.
The warewasher you buy depends on the size of your operation, but as one supplier points out, “dishwashing is not a profit center, so you don’t want to dedicate a lot of space to it.” Used machines are lower in cost, but new dishwashers—ranging from $5,000 to $16,00o, depending on features—quickly can pay for themselves. Look for the Energy Star label; according to 2013 specs, these models are now about 40 percent more energy- and water-efficient.