Buying A Pizza Prep Table needs some proper knowledge

Buying A Pizza Prep Table for Your Commercial Pizzeria: Everything You Need to Know

Posted by | 06-09-2023

In 2022, this commercial refrigeration equipment industry was valued at an impressive USD 39.89 billion. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Forecasts indicate that by 2032, the market will soar to approximately USD 71.1 billion. With a steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6% anticipated between 2023 and 2032, it's evident that businesses and consumers alike are recognizing the paramount importance of advanced refrigeration solutions. This upward trajectory showcases the industry's robustness and hints at the innovations and advancements we can expect in the decade to come.

Market data of global commercial refrigeration equipment market

Image Courtesy: precedenceresearch.com

Operating a commercial pizzeria requires precision, efficiency, and, most importantly, the right equipment. One of the most crucial pieces of equipment is the pizza prep table. But how do you determine which is the best for your needs? This guide will provide a comprehensive look into the various options for Buying A Pizza Prep Table.

Different Ways to Chill

Ensuring the right cooling mechanism for a refrigerated pizza prep table is paramount in a commercial setting. Not only does it impact the quality of the pizza ingredients, but it also influences energy consumption, efficiency, and the overall operation of the pizzeria. 

Single-cavity cooling

Single-cavity cooling is one of the simplest and most traditional methods used in commercial refrigeration. It relies on a singular compartment, where the cooling process takes place, to distribute chill to the rest of the unit. This often means the temperature is most intense near the source and might gradually decline as it gets farther away. This kind of system is generally more budget-friendly, and due to its simplicity, there's less that can go wrong, making maintenance a breeze.

A drawback of the single-cavity system is the potential for uneven cooling. Given that there's only one source of cold air, products placed closer to the cooling compartment might be cooler than those farther away. There might be better choices for businesses where consistent temperature throughout the prep table is crucial. It's essential to understand the layout of your prep table and evaluate if single-cavity cooling will meet your needs.

Cold-wall cooling

Cold-wall cooling is an innovative approach where the unit's walls are cooled, offering direct chilling to the items inside. These systems are embedded within the walls, ensuring a more uniform temperature distribution. A primary benefit of cold-wall systems is their energy efficiency, as they directly transfer chill to the products, ensuring quick and consistent cooling.

One challenge with cold-wall cooling is the risk of freezing products in direct contact with the walls, especially if they remain there for an extended period. This system also might need help with issues when the unit is overcrowded, as it relies on direct contact between the walls and the stored items for optimal efficiency. Thus, proper organization within the prep table is crucial when using cold-wall cooling.

Forced-air cooling

Forced-air cooling is one of the most popular choices for commercial establishments. This method uses fans to circulate cold air throughout the unit. Ensuring air is continuously moving maintains an even temperature in every corner of the prep table. This ensures the freshness and quality of ingredients and reduces the risk of certain areas getting too cold or too warm.

The efficiency of forced-air cooling systems means businesses often favor them with a high throughput of ingredients. The constant air movement ensures rapid cooling, especially when the unit is frequently opened during peak hours. However, like all mechanical systems, the fans used in this method can wear out over time, so it's essential to monitor and maintain them for longevity.

Liquid cooling

Liquid cooling is a more recent advancement in the realm of commercial refrigeration. This method offers rapid and consistent cooling using a chilled liquid circulating throughout the unit. One significant advantage is that, unlike air, liquid can retain cold temperatures for extended periods, making it incredibly efficient in maintaining the desired temperature inside the prep table.

However, liquid cooling systems can be pricier both in terms of initial investment and potential repairs. Maintenance might require specialized knowledge because they're more complex than traditional air-based systems. But for businesses where peak performance, efficiency, and rapid cooling are of the essence, the investment in a liquid cooling system can be well worth it.

A chef preparing a pizza

Features You May Want

A pizza prep table is more than just a counter with refrigeration; its features can significantly enhance your operation's efficiency. Here are some of the top features to consider when buying a pizza prep table:

Expansion valve refrigeration system

An expansion valve refrigeration system allows for precise temperature control. This feature ensures that even when freshly prepared, warm ingredients are placed inside, the system can rapidly cool them down, maintaining optimum freshness.

Adaptive defrost

Adaptive defrost technology minimizes energy consumption. Instead of running on a set timer, this feature defrosts only when necessary, extending the life of the compressor and conserving energy.

Left-side mount compressor

A left-side mount compressor can be a strategic choice for specific kitchen layouts. Having the compressor on the left side might offer better airflow and easier access for maintenance, especially in tight spaces.

Electric condensate evaporator

Say goodbye to the need for a floor drain. The electric condensate evaporator efficiently converts condensation into vapor, reducing potential slip hazards and keeping your kitchen floor dry.

Stainless interior

A stainless steel interior looks sleek, corrosion-resistant, easy to clean, and durable. This means a longer life for your prep table and better ingredient hygiene.

Stainless shelves

Matching the interior, stainless steel shelves are perfect for holding ingredients. They're easy to clean, resist stains and corrosion, and support heavy loads without bending or warping.

person busy making pizza on a prep table

Door Frame heaters

Condensation can be a nuisance. Doorframe heaters prevent moisture buildup around the doorframe, ensuring clear visibility and preventing water drips, which could be a slip hazard.

Drawer cage

A drawer cage is ideal for pizzerias that need quick, organized access to their ingredients. It allows staff to grab what they need without opening the entire unit, preserving the internal temperature.

Self-cleaning condenser

Maintenance is vital for the longevity of any appliance. A self-cleaning condenser automatically brushes the condenser daily, ensuring it remains free from dust and debris and operates at peak efficiency.

Adjustable pan slides

Every pizzeria is different, and so are their needs. Adjustable pan slides allow you to customize the storage space, easily accommodating pans of varying sizes.

Audible alarms

Things can get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen. Audible alarms alert staff if the door is left open or the temperature fluctuates beyond the desired range, ensuring the quality of your ingredients.

Glass and/or insulated pan lids

Glass or insulated pan lids provide a dual benefit: they allow staff to view the contents without opening the unit and offer an extra layer of insulation, keeping ingredients fresher for longer.

One refrigerated pizza prep table in a pizza store

Drawers Versus Doors

When setting up a commercial pizzeria, every decision, down to the specifics of your equipment, can impact your kitchen's efficiency and, ultimately, the quality of your product. One seemingly small but crucial decision is to opt for buying a pizza prep table with drawers, doors, or a combination of both. 

The Case for Drawers

Efficiency and Organization: Drawers offer segmented storage, meaning each drawer can be dedicated to specific ingredients or groups. This can significantly speed up the pizza-making process, with chefs knowing exactly where each ingredient is.

Temperature Maintenance: Every time a cooling unit is opened, there's an exchange of inside and outside air. With drawers, since only a small section is opened at once, there's minimal air exchange. This helps maintain a more consistent temperature, crucial for ingredient freshness.

Space Maximization: Drawers can be deep, allowing for storage of larger or bulkier items without taking up too much horizontal space. This is particularly useful for pizzerias with limited kitchen space.

The Case for Doors

Broad Overview: Doors, especially those with clear panels, offer a broader view of all the contents at once. This can be beneficial during inventory checks or when planning ingredient replenishment.

Flexibility: The open space behind doors is more versatile than segmented drawers. This allows for more substantial items or irregularly shaped containers, offering flexibility in organizing and storing your ingredients.

Cost: Generally, prep tables with doors tend to be less expensive than those with drawers. For pizzerias on a tighter budget, this could be a determining factor.

Combining the Best of Both Worlds

Some pizza prep tables come with a combination of drawers and doors, aiming to offer both benefits. Such designs provide a broad overview and flexibility of doors and the segmented organization of drawers.

wooden looking pizza prep table

Space, the Final Frontier

When outfitting a commercial kitchen, maximizing available space is essential. How you utilize space can dramatically influence the efficiency and functionality of your kitchen, especially when it comes to crucial equipment like the pizza prep table. 

Multiple sizes

Selecting the right size for your pizza prep table can make all the difference. Manufacturers today offer diverse sizes to cater to both expansive commercial kitchens and more intimate spaces. When deciding, consider the current requirements and any potential future expansions. A slightly larger table today might save costs in the long run if you plan to scale up operations.

However, bigger isn’t always better. An oversized table in a compact space can hamper movement and reduce efficiency. It's crucial to measure your available space accurately and visualize the workflow. Sometimes, opting for a smaller table, combined with other smart storage solutions, might be the most practical choice for your kitchen's unique layout.

Dual rail

A dual rail system in a pizza prep table is akin to having a double-decker bus for your ingredients. It offers two layers of storage trays or pans, effectively doubling the storage without increasing the table's footprint. This feature can be invaluable for busy pizzerias with a diverse menu, ensuring that all ingredients are readily accessible.

Beyond the immediate benefit of increased storage, a dual rail system can aid in better ingredient management. You can segregate ingredients based on frequency of use, type, or any other criteria, making the pizza-making process streamlined and reducing the time spent searching for items.

Overshelves

Overshelves, as the name suggests, are shelving units mounted above the pizza prep table. They offer additional storage space for items that don't require refrigeration. From spices and seasonings to pizza boxes and utensils, over shelves can help declutter the main workspace, ensuring everything has its place.

While considering overshelves, ensuring they don't obstruct the main workspace is vital. They should be easy to reach, yet not in the way of the primary prep area. Properly installed and used, overshelves can drastically enhance the functionality of the pizza prep table, making the most of vertical space.

Mini cabinet/drawer

Mini cabinets or drawers are compact storage compartments integrated into the prep table, ideal for storing smaller items or those that aren’t frequently used. These can include specialty tools, extra utensils, or specialty ingredients. By integrating them into the prep table, they’re within arm's reach but not occupying prime space on the main table.

When deciding on mini cabinets or drawers, consider the type of items you'll be storing. Drawers are perfect for flat items or small tools, while mini cabinets better accommodate bulkier items. Their strategic placement can make a significant difference in optimizing the workflow, ensuring that every inch of the prep table serves a purpose.

A chef busy making lots of pizza on a prep table

Taking Care of Your Commercial Pizza Prep Table: Top 10 Tips

A commercial pizza prep table is an investment that promises to streamline your kitchen operations and ensure the freshness and quality of your ingredients. Like any other equipment, its longevity and efficient performance depend on regular care and maintenance. Here are the top 10 tips to keep your pizza prep table in tip-top shape:

1. Regular Cleaning

Ensure that the interior and exterior table are cleaned daily using a mild detergent and warm water. Wipe it down with a soft cloth to avoid scratches. Clean up any spills immediately to prevent them from hardening or becoming breeding grounds for bacteria.

2. Inspect the Seals

The door seals (or gaskets) play a vital role in maintaining the correct temperature inside the unit. Inspect them regularly for signs of wear, tear, or damage. Clean them gently and ensure they seal properly. If they are damaged, replace them promptly.

3. Keep the Condenser Coil Clean

The condenser coil should be cleaned every month, usually located at the back or underneath the unit. Dust and debris can accumulate and hinder its efficiency, leading to increased energy consumption and reduced cooling capacity.

4. Check the Temperature

Regularly check the internal temperature using an external thermometer to ensure it's within the recommended range. Adjust the settings if necessary and call for professional help if the temperature fluctuates unexpectedly.

5. Level It Right

Ensure that the prep table is level. If not properly balanced, doors might not close correctly, leading to potential energy loss and inefficient cooling.

a typical busy pizza restaurant

6. Avoid Overloading

Every prep table has a capacity limit. Overloading can strain the compressor, increasing energy consumption and reducing unit lifespan.

7. Monitor the Drain

Most commercial pizza prep tables come with a condensate drain. Ensure that it's clean and unclogged. An obstructed drain can lead to water pooling inside the unit.

8. Optimize Airflow

Make sure the prep table is positioned in a location where there's adequate airflow around it, especially around the condenser and compressor. Avoid pushing it directly against a wall or placing objects that might obstruct the vents.

9. Regular Professional Maintenance

Schedule periodic maintenance checks with a professional technician. They can spot potential issues early on, ensure the refrigerant levels are correct, and perform any necessary repairs.

10. Train Your Staff

Ensure that all staff members know how to use the prep table correctly. Simple actions, like ensuring doors or drawers are closed immediately after use or loading ingredients properly, can make a difference in the unit's longevity and efficiency.

Buying A Pizza Prep Table needs some proper knowledge

How Can Ancaster Food Equipment Help?

For over three decades, Ancaster Food Equipment has been at the forefront of enhancing the pizzeria experience by supplying top-quality refrigerated pizza prep tables. Recognized for their dedication to quality and versatility, Ancaster provides many brands and sizes tailored to each establishment's distinct requirements. 

Whether you operate a cozy neighborhood pizza joint or a bustling city pizzeria, Ancaster ensures that every slice served is a testament to perfection. Their commitment doesn't just stop at offering the best equipment; they believe in forging lasting relationships. So, no matter your budget or unique needs, the Ancaster team is ready to guide and assist. Reach out today and elevate your pizza-making process to unparalleled heights!

A person busy making a pizza in a restaurant

Final Words on Buying A Pizza Prep Table

Investing in the right pizza prep table can significantly improve your pizzeria's operations. Whether you prioritize space-saving features or advanced cooling systems, there's a unit out there that's perfect for your establishment. Remember, it's not just about buying equipment; it's about investing in efficiency and quality for your business.

This comprehensive guide delves deep into the various chilling methods— from single-cavity to liquid cooling. It further highlights the myriad features a modern pizza prep table can offer, including the advantages of adaptive defrost, the convenience of left-side mount compressors, and the longevity ensured by stainless interiors. The debate between drawers versus doors is settled, and the importance of space optimization, with options like dual rails and overshelves, is explored. Maintenance tips for extended equipment life wrap up the guide, ensuring that pizzeria owners are knowledgeable.

In light of this detailed guide, it's worth noting that Ancaster Food Equipment, with over 30 years of expertise, stands as a trusted ally in your quest to find the perfect pizza prep table. Their diverse range and unparalleled customer service make them the go-to choice for pizzerias aiming for perfection.

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