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The Uk's premier commercial refrigeration
& catering equipment specialist

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Serve Over Buying Guide

All buying guides.

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 operating 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.

  • Size and Capacity

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 however display serve overs generally range between 1m and 4m in width with a standard depth of 900mm. 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. The average height of serve overs measure approximately 1250mm although certain models will offer extra ambient shelving which takes the overall height to around 1300mm.

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.

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 allows. The capacity measurement should be stated within the specification description.

  • Temperature range

Serve over counters are available with a number of temperature options depending on what you wish to store. Refrigerated counters range on average between 2˚C-6˚C, ample temperatures in which to store and display chilled foods.

There are ambient displays available which incorporate only adequate ventilation. These models are designed to simply hold stock at the temperature of the surrounding room.

For more specialised produce such as raw meat and fish, units will incorporate a temperature range of between 0˚C -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.

  • Layout

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? A standard layout will allow you to arrange an attractive display to showcase items in the best possible way.

If your customers are generally further away and seated, such as in a café for example, choosing a taller unit which can house a few extra shelves will allow you to entice customers with products that are easily visible and on eye level. This additional shelving option also maximises storage capacity.

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.

  • Finishes and Appearance

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 also worktop and plinth material (For example; Mafirol RAVEL ranges). Options may include stainless steel or stone or a more elegant marble or granite. Each ensures that hygiene standards remain high and appearance is easily maintained even after multiple uses.

Manufacturers also incorporate the appearance of the glass into their designs. Generally, there will be options for flat or curved glass panels each giving a different overall appearance and will influence the effectiveness of the final result. Consider whether you require a serve over with segmented glass, dividing the customers view with a support or frame or a counter that features a single pane for an uninterrupted panoramic view of what’s on offer.

  • Specifications and Features

Internal illumination is a common specification when looking for the perfect unit. Lighting will clearly display all products on offer in the most attractive and appealing way possible.

When searching for refrigerated counters, consider whether the unit uses fan air distribution systems. 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 compressor.

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.

Automatic defrost is a great feature on standard refrigerated and specialised meat and fish glass counters reducing manual input and making 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. 

  • Warranty 

Always check the warranty that is supplied as standard as it will differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.

  • Ask advice

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. 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.