Serve over counters are the ideal way to display produce at the main point of contact between staff and customer. From chilled goods such as sandwich fillings, salads, cold drinks, cheeses and cooked meats to items that need to hold temperature including pastries, cakes and other baked goods – these units are integral to creating a smooth and professional operation.
Investing in the perfect display counter will ensure that all stock is delivered to your customers in premium condition. Getting your selection right the first time will rely on a number of individual factors personal to every business.
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Many people believe that the larger the equipment the more capacity is available however this isn’t necessarily true. Before making any purchase it is vital to compare each product to establish firstly, whether you have the space to house the equipment and secondly, whether the capacity is able to meet your requirements.
All external dimensions should be stated in product specifications and will vary from model to model. Integral refrigeration units will have standard dimensions however there are manufacturers that will offer the option to 'multiplex' multiple units allowing large premises to create a run of counters tailored to their required length. Multiplexed equipment will generally be remote operated where the condenser is situated externally of the building, separate to the cabinet and connected by refrigerant pipes. To read more about the pros and cons of remote versus integral refrigeration take a look at our in-depth article.
There are slim line models available for those hindered by space and also extra deep for those who are blessed with the room to accommodate them. Extra deep units not only maximise storage but also increase work surface area adding benefits all round.
Always consider, not only the space you have in which to position your serve over display fridge but also access points to the building. Upon delivery you need to get your equipment into the premises so always take into account the size of doorways and any narrow corridors or awkward corners.
Once you have found the options open to you with regards to external measurements it’s time to whittle down the list using other features such as capacity.
Capacity will vary between models and so it is vital to assess the amount of stock you need to display in relation to what each serve over counter allows. The capacity measurement should be stated within the specification description.
Serve over counters are available with a number of temperature options. The range you need will depend on what you wish to store. Refrigerated counters range on average between 2˚C to 6˚C, ample temperatures in which to store and display chilled foods. These counter fridges can be used for general purpose display including dairy products, sandwiches, cooked meats and pasta etc.
There are ambient displays available which incorporate natural ventilation. These models are designed to simply hold stock at the temperature of the surrounding room.
For more specialised produce such as fresh meat and fish, units will incorporate a temperature range of between -2˚C to +2˚C. It is vital for food safety aspects to store all fish and meat in lower temperatures to prevent any possible bacteria from thriving.
Meat, fish and deli displays all perform in the same basic manner however the layout and specific features may differ slightly. Ascertaining exactly how you need your equipment to work for your business is the key.
Are customers to stand directly in front of the counter? The standard layout with a large main cabinet in which to present produce will allow you to arrange an attractive display to showcase items in the best possible way. Some serve overs will also offer additional shelves, either refrigerated or ambient, allowing maximisation of the display area and greater versatility with regards to the products that are on show.
Certain models will offer additional countertop preparation surfaces; useful if you need to wrap or pack items before completing service. If this a feature vital to your business achieving maximum impact, be sure to always check individual unit specifications before ordering as if you make a mistake you may be liable to cover a restocking fee.
Under-storage is available with certain models to create valuable extra storage.
Serve overs are designed to enhance the stock your business offers and so must be appealing to the customer in their own right. You may sell the most delicious cakes for example, however if the display is unsightly customers will be put off. For this reason it is vital that you choose a glass counter which complements the style and décor of your entire business.
To accommodate every type of business regardless of colour scheme, counter displays are usually available in almost any hue you can imagine. Whether you are looking for modern whites, greys or wood or more eye-catching colours such as lime green, blue or even pink, you will be able to find a product to match.
Not only do you have a choice of colour but certain designs also allow for a choice of worktop and plinth material, such as with the Mafirol RAVEL range. Options may include stainless steel or stone or a more elegant marble or granite. Each ensures that hygiene standards remain high, durability is a core feature and appearance is easily maintained even after multiple uses.
Manufacturers also incorporate the appearance of the glass into their designs allowing clear visibility whilst offering a degree of protection for contents. Generally, there will be options for flat or curved glass panels each giving a different overall appearance. Consider whether you require a serve over with segmented glass, dividing the customers sight with a support or frame or a counter that features a single pane for an uninterrupted panoramic view of what’s on offer.
A common specification when looking for the perfect serve over display is internal illumination. Lighting will clearly display all products on offer in the most attractive and appealing way possible.
Fan Air Distribution
When searching for refrigerated display counters, consider whether the unit uses fan air distribution methods. This continually circulates air and houses chilled products in the optimum environment. If you require a refrigerated model it is vital to ensure that vents are unobstructed and cleaned regularly to avoid unnecessary stress on the refrigeration system.
Static cooling systems work in a similar way to domestic refrigeration and remain at the set temperature until the ideal conditions are reached. At this point the equipment will cut out, restarting only when temperatures begin to warm up. Displays which use this form of cooling do not dry out foods as quickly as fan distribution alternatives.
A great feature on standard refrigerated and specialised meat and fish glass counters, automatic defrost reduces manual input, making the cleaning processes simpler.
If you are looking to purchase a refrigerated serving and display unit specifically for fish always check that surfaces are coated to protect both the equipment and the produce. The ammonia produced by the fish can damage internal components, the specialised coating offering protection against such damage.
Always check the warranty that is supplied as standard as it will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer. Where possible choose the longest term available with full parts and labour warranty for complete coverage should any issues arise.
Equipping yourself with the knowledge of all options available is a good way to ensure that the investment you make is a wise one, however the mass of information can become confusing and even a little overwhelming. If you are unsure about any aspect always ask the advice of an impartial third party whether that is a colleague within the industry or a commercial refrigeration supplier. The FFD team can provide information regarding all aspects of the many serve over manufacturers and will locate the perfect product to fulfil all individual requirements.