6 Details to Consider Before Purchasing Front Serve-Line Hot and Cold Wells

Thermal Well
Photograph courtesy of LTI, Inc.

It’s all too common for operators who are installing a new front serve line to focus on design, materials and cooking equipment and lose sight of the importance of the “simple” serving equipment — such as drop-in or built-in wells.

The idea that serving equipment is “simple” couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the only thing simple about high-end serving technology should be its ease of use and maintenance.

Before a last-second decision is made to purchase whichever drop-in works and comes in at a low price, operators should first consider whether the equipment they are about to purchase delivers in six key areas. Afterall, it’s not “just a drop-in.” It’s where your customers see and receive their food. The drop-in is your product’s final stop before being consumed.

Visibility – If no one can see your food, it becomes difficult to sell. Consider drop-ins that feature counter-flush pans. Elevating your food will make it more visible from greater distances and will show off your product far better than typical, recessed pans that hide food. The easier it is for patrons to find the items they’re interested in, the greater the chances of that item selling, which also means a reduction in food waste.

Display – No one likes approaching a serving counter hungry and ready for a nice meal, only to find that the food being served looks dried out, frozen, over cooked or has a film across the surface. Showing off food that is fresh and appetizing is vital when it comes to earning repeat customers.

Food access – Along the lines of seeing food, customers want to be able to access their food. Pans that are elevated, counter-flush and tilted forward make it easier for customers to reach. Because of the necessity of food shields, there is an inherent obstacle between your food and the customer. When food runs low inside a recessed pan, it can feel like it requires a contortionist to reach the last of the product. Counter-flush pans make serving simpler, always.

Temperature maintenance – Food is delicate. Whether it’s vegetables, cold cuts, macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes, each food requires precise temperature control to achieve peak consistency, freshness, moisture levels and of course, flavor. The engineering around how a drop-in produces hot or cold air can determine how evenly and precisely temperatures are distributed around the drop-in pan. Drop-in temperature technologies differ between brands, so do your research prior to purchasing to ensure the equipment you choose offers the best performance.

Merchandising – You don’t just want to sell some; you want to sell it all. Choosing a drop-in that optimizes your merchandising abilities will help your restaurant become more efficient and more profitable. The combined performance of visibility and display will ultimately support your merchandising. Equipment that can maximize space while requiring minimal utility connects, such as a 12-pan cold well running on just one compressor, will help operators run more efficiently while displaying as much food as possible.

Utility costs – Nobody likes utility bills at the end of each month, so why would you use a piece of equipment that doesn’t help you lower those bills? Heated drop-ins using traditional calrod systems are out of date and can cost up to three times as much to run. Water costs for hot food drop-ins that require water to heat can also add up. Drop-ins that can heat dry or wet will help reduce water bills. 

Not all drop-ins are built equally and because of this, operators should take the purchase of their next drop-in seriously. Consider the details of the equipment being purchased and compare equipment across these six areas. Your business will be better for it. To learn more about hot and cold well drop-ins for restaurant operations, visit https://lowtempind.com/product/serving-technologies/.

LTI's ThermalWell hot food wells allow operators to heat their food within dry units with no drain required, or in units that can be run dry or wet. ThermalWell’s flexibility comes from sidewall heating pads that also provide superior performance and energy savings.

This post is sponsored by LTI, Inc.


Exclusive Content


Saladworks-parent WOWorks is shopping for new brands to buy

The platform company is almost finished assimilating its existing six brands. Now it's time to add to the family, said CEO Kelly Roddy.


2 more reminders that the restaurant business is risky

The Bottom Line: Franchising is no less risky than opening your own restaurant. Just ask former NFL player David Tyree and the former president of McDonald's Mexico.


There's plenty happening at the high end of the pricing barbell, too

Reality Check: Decadent meal choices are also proliferating, for a lot more than $5.