Tag Archives: buying guide

Buying Guide: Food Pans and Layouts

Food pans are essential to the foodservice industry. They start in the food prep area then make their way to display in a steam table, hence their other name: Steam table pans. Each food pan manufacturer has different construction types and benefits to best fit your foodservice establishment.

Pan Sizes

There are a variety of food pan sizes to best fit your current table’s configuration which all depends on the types of food you are serving. In some instances, it is beneficial to use a full size pan, while in others, you may want to break things up and use multiple food pans in the same well. With Central’s selection, options are endless.

Below is a diagram to show the different food pan size offerings from Central:

Food Pan Sizes

When dividing up a steam table, you will need to use adapter bars. Adapter bars enhance the steam tables presentation but more importantly, eliminate gaps that may cause steam loss. They also reduce energy consumption.

Below is a diagram to show the different ways adapter bars can be used with multiple sizes of food pans in the same well:

Food Pan Sizes

Adapter Bar Key

Adapter Bar Color Key

  • Blue: 20″L — Model# 101-002
  • Red: 12″L — Model# 101-001
  • Green: T-Shaped — Model# 913-V17


From stainless steel gauges to reinforced corners, there are many factors to consider when shopping for a food pan.

Steel Gauges

Stainless Steel Gauges

When choosing a gauge size, keep one thing in mind: The lower the gauge number is, the thicker the steel will be. So, for instance, a 22 gauge food pan will be thicker than a 24 gauge. Foodservice operations that depend heavily on using food pans may want to consider a lower gauge for durability.

Pan Corner


If you have had to get a food pan out of a steam table before, you know at times it is not the easiest task. Many food pans now are “anti-jamming” or have a tapered or angled ramp on the corner for easy lifting. Others include coved corners for easy serving or pouring.

Pan Edge


Food pans with a flat edge will keep the pan tight in the well and promote easier handling with a larger gripping area.

Decorative Pans

Decorative Pans

Food pans are not just limited to rectangles and squares. Today, manufacturers have different shapes, such as Vollrath’s Super Pan® Super Shapes that are designed to fit in existing food pan wells but liven up the presentation with unique designs or shapes. These decorative food pans also have their own adapter bars.


There are many accessories you can add to your food pan purchase to make things easier or more efficient for staff that include:

Disposable Pan Liner
  • Wire grates: Ideal for draining, cooling and more
  • False Bottoms: Hold food above the pan bottom for draining
  • Disposable Pan Liners: Perfect for easy clean-up and can be used in both hot and cold settings
  • Disposable Pan Covers: Plastic that fits over a pan and shrinks once put in an oven for a tight-fit
  • Lids: Available in a variety of options from hinged and flexible to one that can be used with different food pan sizes

Ready to shop? Browse our wide variety of shapes and sizes on our website or call one of helpful product consultants for one on one assistant at 800.215.9293!

Plastic Food Pans

Tuesday Tips: Plastic Food Containers – What’s the Difference?

Easily taken for granted, plastic food containers are a staple supply in any food service operation and it’s beneficial to take the time to become familiar with the main types, materials and sizes. By paying attention to these attributes, you could save money in both the cost of the container and also in the reduction of food waste through a more efficient operation.

When shopping for plastic food containers, it is important to know which type of container you need and what the container is made of before making a decision.


Food Pan
“Food Pan” food containers: The workhorse of plastic food containers
  • Come in sizes designed to fit in food wells, transports, chafers
  • Available in various materials that allow for a large temperature range
  • Can go from prep, refrigeration, cooking, warming and serving
  • Lids available for different applications—serving, storing, holding temperature
Food Storage Box
Food Storage Boxes: Designed for bulk storage
  • Largest capacity
  • Stackable design for efficient storage
  • Sliding lids available for one handed operation
  • Good for replacing the original packaging after receiving
Food Storage Containers
Food Storage Containers: Smaller shapes and sizes suited for food rotation
  • Smaller sizes allow for batch prep work and quick retrieval from refrigeration
  • Round shape for easier stirring and mixing
  • Square shape for more efficient use in storage space
  • Lids designed to preserve food integrity



Polycarbonate $$

  • High impact resistance and rigid construction
  • Clear construction for great visibility
  • Highly stain resistant
  • Average temperature range of -40°F to +212°F
  • More expensive than Polypropylene or Polyethylene

High Heat Polycarbonate

High Heat Polycarbonate Plastic $$

  • High impact resistance and rigid construction
  • Usually in see-through Amber or solid Black construction
  • Average temperature range of -40°F to +375°F
  • More expensive than Polypropylene or Polyethylene


Polypropylene $

  • Impact resistant and sturdy construction. More flexible than Polycarbonate and high heat but not quite as flexible as Polyethylene
  • Translucent in appearance, but can be colored for different applications
  • Average temperature range of 0°F to +230°F (not ideal for freezing)
  • Recyclable, microwaveable and dishwasher safe
  • Less expensive than Polycarbonate or High Heat Polycarbonate Plastic


Polyethylene $

  • Impact resistant and sturdy construction, most flexible
  • Usually white in color, but can be colored for different applications
  • Recyclable and dishwasher safe
  • Average temperature range of -40°F to +180°F (not ideal for cooking)
  • Less expensive than Polycarbonate or High Polycarbonate Plastic

Tuesday Tips: Hand Dryers

Choosing the right hand dryer can provide cost savings and promote sustainability at your foodservice operation. What are the advantages of switching to an electric dryer?
Read up on these helpful hints to help you choose the right one for you!

Cost Savings

Did you know that converting from paper towels to hand dryers represents a roughly 95% cost savings? Dryers require less attention than paper towel dispensers, which saves on labor and maintenance. The energy costs of using a hand dryer add up to only pennies per day compared to paper towel cost. Use a cost savings, such as the Xlerator Cost Savings Calculator, to calculate how much money you can save by installing hand dryers! On average, customers can enjoy a 90-95% cost savings by making the switch.

Energy Efficiency

Hand dryers not only reduce climate change impacts, they also reduce the use of non-renewable energy, impacts on ecosystems and emissions that damage human health. They reduce the amount of damage manufacturing, transportation, materials production and end of life cycle that contribute to carbon footprints.

Life Cycle

Hand dryers reduce climate change that impacts carbon footprint, and also reduce the use of non-renewable energy, impacts on the ecosystems and emissions that can damage human health.


Auto vs. Push

Automatic and push button hand dryers are both great choices, but each one has select pros and cons. Automatic hand dryers are more hygienic, meaning you don’t have to touch any part of the dryer for it to turn on. They also have a higher energy savings cost because the user determines how long it runs for. Also, some models let you turn on/off heat for additional savings. Push button hand dryers are a popular choice because some believe that they aren’t as easy to vandalize. These units are typically lower in cost.


Whether you want a modern or classic look, there are several finishes for you to choose from. Ranging from stainless steel to Chrome to classic Black, there is a hand dryer that will fit your restroom’s décor. Some vendors will even do custom labeling with logos and images.


Looking to go green? You’ll notice these certifications on many hand dryer’s spec sheets throughout our website.

  • LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design)
  • GreenSpec®
  • Greener Product
  • Green Business Bureau
  • Green Restaurant Association

Ready to shop?

Browse our website for a wide variety of models or call one of our helpful product consultants for a personalized shopping experience at 800.215.9293!

Tuesday Tips: Shelving and Storage

Storage solutions is a key component in your food service application that is often overlooked. Efficient use of space can help maintain cleanliness, speed of service and ultimately the overall bottom line of the business. When considering the type of shelving needs for your storage area, it is best to choose the type and construction based on your application.



Vented is the most popular type of shelving. Its open design takes advantage of the minimal surface area. Advantages indclude:

  • Good circulation for drying and temperature regulation
  • Lower weight allows for easier mobility
  • Shelf design allows for easier loading and unloading of productVented Shelf


The one-piece construction of solid shelves gives more surface area for storage. Advantages include:

  • Easy to clean surface
  • Ideal for messy areas like food prep and warewashing
  • Good for controlling spills and storing small itemsSolid Shelf


Shelving can be constructed from metal, polymer plastic or a hybrid of both.


The most common metal shelving is vented wire shelving consisting of epoxy coated or plated steel wire frame. Plating or coating the metal wires helps provide durability and corrosion and is usually a lower in price. Solid shelving is also available and the typical construction is a corrosion-resistant metal, such as stainless steel or aluminum. While epoxy-coated and s/s shelving is suitable for wet or humid areas, plated shelving should be considered for dry storage only

Polymer plastic

It is a more recent development that provides great corrosion resistance, light component weight and does not sacrifice capacity. Polymer plastic shelving is ideal for humid or moist storage areas. Typical polymer plastic models are more expensive than traditional wire shelving—but extra-long warranties help create long-term solutions.


Hybrid shelving combines the best of both worlds, by utilizing a metal structure and polymer components. This gives you added cleanability from polymer and the flexibility to mix up shelving components to match your application. Most shelving units that use both polymer components and metal components have a price range that falls into the middle.

Shelf Weight Capacity

Eash unit lists its shelf weight capacity. This applies to stationary units only. The shelf capacity on mobile units varies depending on the caster’s weight capacity.


Models are available with antimicrobial protection. This helps to defend against mold, bacteria and mildew growth.

Tuesday Tips: Popcorn Poppers

Summer is right around the corner, and you know what that means….. festival, fairs and concessions stands at your local baseball fields! Are any of these events truly complete without some good popcorn? We think not! It is important for owners and operators in these fields to know what type of machine works best for their application. There are three things to keep in mind when shopping for a popcorn popper: production, capacity and kettle construction.


1 oz. Servings per Hour: Each popcorn popper Central sells includes information for how many 1 oz. servings per hour the machine will make. This will directly correlate with the kettle capacity. Using both the kettle capacity and 1 oz. servings per hour capabilities, you will be able to determine the popping cycle time. Again, it is important to consider how your demand fluctuates and if you are able to pop on an as needed basis.
Keep in mind that not all kettle sizes and 1 oz. servings per hour are consistent. They vary among different manufacturers, so be sure to read about each one thoroughly.


Kettle Capacity: All popcorn machines include kettles. Within these kettles is where the unpopped kernels and oil are placed. Their capacity determines how much popcorn can be popped at one time. The most important factor in choosing a machine is matching your demand with the poppers capacity. You want to match a machines capacity as closely as possible to your demand. This will allow you to maximize your profits and reduce product waste.

Kettle Construction


  • Plated Steel: Heavy duty construction
  • Anodized Aluminum: Extremely even cooking heat
  • Stainless Steel: Durable and long-lasting


  • Anodized Aluminum: Maximum performance with easy cleaning
  • Nickel Plated Steel: Maintenance free operation
  • Aluminum: Extremely even cooking heat
  • Dupont® Scratchguard®: Non-stick surface makes for easy cleaning

Holding Cabinet

Heated Corn Deck: If you will be popping your popcorn in bulk, then you will want to consider a heated corn deck. This feature will help keep your popcorn fresh for longer. Keeping the popcorn fresh tasting helps maximize product while keeping customers happy.

Ready to browse? View our plethora of options on our website! Still need help deciding? One our helpful product consultants is happy to assist you at 800.215.9293!

Tip of the Day Tuesday: What Slicer Do I Need?

There are several factors that go into determining what kind of slicer would best fit your needs. What will you be slicer, how much, and for how long? Reference our quick guide below and then talk to a product consultant on further recommendations of great slicers at 800.215.9293!

What are you slicing?

  • All commercial slicers are designed to slice meat
  • A heavier duty machine is recommended for higher volumes of cheese

Amount of Cheese Slicing

How much are you slicing at any given time?

  • Manual slicers are convenient for made-to-order or small batches
  • Automatic slicers help reduce employee fatigue and provide a consistent product

Type of Slicing

How long are you slicing for?

  • Less than 2 hours or 700 slices ⇒ Light Duty
  • 2–4 hours a day or between 700 and 1400 slices ⇒ Medium Duty
  • All day operation or over 1400 slices ⇒ Heavy Duty

Daily Amount of Slicing

Which Pizza Oven Does My Restaurant Need?

Can we be candid for a moment? Who does not love a good pizza?! Perhaps the most common type of restaurant, pizza shops naturally need a pizza oven that fits their operations. But with so many options, how can you know you are purchasing what will fit your operation and you are getting the best value for your money? Here are some important factors to consider!


The age-old question when purchasing a pizza oven is the difference between a deck and a conveyor oven. Generally speaking, the industry has come to the consensus that deck ovens provide a better bake than conveyor ovens, but of course, there is no science to back up this claim! Major differences between deck ovens and conveyor ovens are volume, space, and amount of interaction with the product. Generally speaking, conveyor ovens are able to produce a great volume of pizzas per hour and take up more space then a deck oven, but they cut down on how much pizzas have to be touched, or moved in the baking process. Consideration of these factors will help determine the type of pizza oven that your restaurant requires!


The biggest question to consider when purchasing a pizza oven is how many pizzas you intend to cook per hour.

Low Production

Does your restaurant offer pizza, but you wouldn’t consider yourselves a pizzeria? No need to purchase a specifically pizza oven. Your convection oven will do the trick! With on average 2 to 5 racks per oven, and a cook time of less than 10 minutes depending on temperature, your convection oven should have no problem turning around 20 to 50 pizzas an hour.

Medium Production

Deck ovens are more ideal for medium production facilities such a small pizzerias because ovens hold more pizzas at a time than convection ovens, but generally have a lower output than conveyor ovens. Deck ovens come in a range of sizes with number of decks varying from 1 up to 5. Deck ovens may require that pizzas are moved during the cooking process, so it is important to keep in mind how much you would like to touch the pizzas during the cooking process.

High Production

If your restaurant’s main focus is pizza, and you do so in large quantities, conveyor pizza ovens are you answer! Conveyor pizza ovens allow a large amount of pizzas to be produced without having added labor. A helpful hint? The longer and wider the conveyor, the greater volume of product that can be cooked due to staging products to be cooked. Conveyor pizza ovens can also be stacked to further increase production without taking a larger footprint of your kitchen. Want to bake 30% faster and at a lower temperature for a truly better taste? Check out the Middleby Marshall WOW! ovens, exclusive to Central Restaurant Products! Ask a product consultant for details!

Pizza Oven



A new trend within restaurants is having an “open kitchen” where customers are able to see their food being prepared. If your restaurant does this or plans to utilize this concept, consider ovens that either genuinely allow the process to be viewed, such as a conveyor oven, or give the illusion of a brick fire oven with Marsal and Son’s line of deck ovens! These gas deck ovens function just the same, but offer a great decorative facade.




Still not sure which direction to go? We are happy to walk you through the decision process! Give us a call at 800-215-9293 to speak with one of our helpful product consultants!

Tip of the Day Tuesday: What Commercial Dishwasher Fits Your Facility?

Whether you are operating a small coffee shop, a chain restaurant, a school cafeteria, or anything in-between, having clean dishes is a must! To have the cleanest dishes, in the shortest amount of time, using as little water and energy to do so, is on the forefront of many operator’s minds. Knowing which commercial dishwasher best fits your facility can set your facility up for success!

The first step in determining what kind of dishwasher best suits your operation is to identify what type of dishwasher and the capacity your facility requires. The chart below will help you identify what type of dishwasher you need based on the number of meals served a day, number of dishes used per guest, and how frequently tables are turned. Once the type of dishwasher is identified, you have two options for sanitizing: high temperature sanitizing machines and chemical sanitizing machines. As the names denote, high temperature machines utilize heat to sanitize dishes and chemical sanitizing machines utilizes a chemical bath to sanitize dishes.

There are pros and cons to each type of sanitizing method – read more about the differences in our Commercial Dishwasher Buying Guide!

Dishwasher Types

Looking for cost savings when operating your dishwasher? Try out these tips!

  • Turn machines off at night
  • Replace torn wash curtains
  • Repair leaks
  • Replace worn spray heads


Ready to buy a commercial dishwasher? Browse Central Restaurant Product’s wide selection here, or call one of our helpful product consultants at 800.215.9293!