Diners have come to expect a side of crisp, golden-brown bread accompanying their breakfast orders. At lunchtime, toast is a must-have as the basis of a classic club and other sandwiches. So having a toaster that can deliver the goods quickly and consistently is essential.
Toast for everyone
The conveyor toaster is the familiar back-of-house workhorse. In simplest terms, the bread is placed into an opening at the front or back of the unit and it moves along a metal conveyor through the machine, passing the toasting elements as it moves. Starting with that basic design, there are countless variations and options on today’s models. Here are some factors to consider when buying a conveyor toaster.
How much do you toast? It’s easy to overbuy and get a machine that toasts more bread than you could ever possibly serve. By roughly calculating your bread usage during a normal rush period (based on two slices per customer per order), you can find a machine that fits your needs and your budget. A smaller model, like the Chefmate TC1 by Globe, will toast up to 300 slices per hour. A high-volume operation will need a model like the Hatco TK-100, which can toast up to 1,000 slices per hour.
How quickly do you need it? Closely related to the number of slices per hour is the “pass-through” time—in other words, the time it takes for bread to make the trip through the conveyor and come out toasted. Check how long it takes to go through a complete cycle, as a slower time could slow down orders during rush periods.
What are you toasting? It seems like an obvious question, but if you’re going to be toasting items besides sandwich bread—like bagels, buns or thick-cut Texas toast—you need to look for a toaster with a larger slot to accommodate them.
Where will it be placed? By its nature, the toaster is one of the hotter back-of-house machines. So it’s important to check how hot the outside casing of the toaster gets, as well as where it vents. Some models, like the Waring CTS1000, have insulated side panels that stay cooler to the touch. And a fan that redirects the hot air away from the front of the machine (and thus away from the operator) can be useful.
Toast for just a few
Pop-up toasters for foodservice are merely larger and sturdier versions of household toasters. They’re best used in self-service areas, such as hotel breakfast bars, or in operations with light volume at breakfast. When looking for a pop-up toaster, check the handle—it’s going to get a lot of hard usage, particularly if it’s in a self-service area. Also notice the lightness controls; those with definite, easy-to-read markings can help lessen the chance of wasted, burnt toast. Finally, check the cord length; a longer cord allows for more flexibility in positioning on the service counter.
Hatco’s TPT-120R pop-up model features a bagel selector switch for single- or double-sided toasting of bagels. For the largest self-serve operations, Hobart offers a 16-slice capacity setup, featuring four four-slice toasters on tiered stands.
Muffin toasters do what their name implies—toast English muffins. The muffins are placed on a tray that slides inside the toasting chamber. Most models can handle either six full muffins or 12 split halves. A.J. Antunes’ Roundup MT-12 model also features a “partial load” switch for toasting loads of three full muffins or less.
SELECTED CONVEYOR TOASTERS AT A GLANCE
|Manufacturer/ Model||Dimensions (H x W x D)||Slices/hour (avg.)*||Features|
|APW Wyott ECO-4000||15.1 in. by 14.8 in. x 23.5 in.||500||Preset programmable buttons, energy-saving mode|
|Chefmate TC1||16.1 in. by x 15.4 in. x 16.5 in.||300||Energy-saver setting|
|Hatco TQ-400H||15.9 in x 14.5 in. x 17.7 in.||400||Front or rear product discharge; energy-saver setting; insulation and interior fan|
|Prince Castle 428-B||14.7 in. x 16.2 in. x 22.4 in.||600||Has fan to redirect hot air away from operator; separate top and bottom heater controls|
|Waring CTS 1000||13.5 in. x 15.5 in. x 18.5 in.||450||Cool-touch side panels; 2-in. opening to accommodate thick bread and bagels|
*Moisture content of bread product will affect output.