One of the most important decisions one can make when opening a restaurant is what to put on the menu. This not only determines the price of a meal and customer base, but most importantly it determines the type of equipment needed and the layout of the kitchen.
The back of the house is where all of the food is prepared. Without the proper equipment, the front of the house cannot serve its customers. Below is a list of menu items followed by the type of equipment that should be used.
Soups, Stews and Broths
If you want to include soups and/or stews on your list, you have several options by way of equipment. Either a steam kettle or a stock pot range would be your best bet. However, if you are pressed for floor space, and have an extra burner available on the range top used for other purposes, then a spare burner on a multi-use, heavy duty range will work just fine.
Steam kettles are your best option, if soups, stews or broths are in high demand. The kettles heat the product all around instead of just at the bottom of the pot the way a range or a stock pot range would. Kettles help to prevent scorching, by cooking and heating all the way around the product, unlike a stock pot range which only heats from the bottom. Also, when it comes to pouring the product, many kettles have a tilt or spigot feature that allows for easy decanting. decanting.
are perfect for restaurants that prepare a lot of sandwiches. Most sandwich operations build the sandwiches in front of the customer and not in back. These prep tables sit low enough that the sandwich maker can see over the refrigeration unit and speak with the customer while preparing the food.
If your restaurant makes its own bread in house, a convection oven is needed. These ovens force the heated air around the oven cavity to ensure even heat throughout. Your chances of burning the top or bottom of the bread significantly decrease when using convection ovens.
In a pinch, a standard oven or convection oven at the base of the range will work, but the chance for hot spots increases. However, if money or floor space poses a problem, this can be an alternative.
Some sandwich items require quick reheating before being put on the bread. Commercial microwaves are perfect for this application. They don’t take up much space, and are quick and efficient. It is essential to use a commercial microwave in these cases, as residential microwaves are not designed to be used as frequently, and will burn out quickly.
If your shop serves toasted sandwiches, a conveyor toaster oven is the way to go. After the sandwiches are prepped, the sandwich maker places the sandwich on the belt. When it comes through the other side, it is ready to be served.
When preparing pizzas on an assembly line, pizza prep tables, much like sandwich prep tables, keep the toppings refrigerated while making it easier for the pizza chef to add toppings quickly and efficiently.
are a staple item in pizza joints. They are the most cost effective way to cook pizza, but perhaps not the most time efficient. If you have extra money, but not a lot of time, look into buying an . These conveyor style ovens use impingement technology that forces heat through the crust of the pizza, thus cooking it much faster.
Seafood can be cooked in a variety of ways, but the best way is via steam. Steam keeps the meat tender while retaining all of the moisture and nutrients.
Steak or Chicken
Charbroilers are great for cooking meat. They give a distinct smoky flavor to the meat while leaving aesthetically pleasing grill marks. Charbroilers are great to have in the kitchen. However, it is very important to have proper ventilation, as they tend to produce a lot of smoke.
Fried Main Courses And Sides
If you plan to fry lots of different types of foods, will suit your business just fine. Open pot and tube type fryers are acceptable for frying larger items.
Additional Tips for Menu Writing:
- Make from easy to clean material, or laminate them. In restaurants, menus get dirty. Whether they get dropped on the floor, or a waiter or patron spills a drink or appetizer on them, they need to be easily cleaned for the next patron who comes through the door. No one wants to order off a paper menu that has last nights chicken soup stains covering the wine list.
- Use the language of your patrons when writing the menu. Keep your menu in mind and focus on keeping your kitchen compact and efficient. This means buying as few pieces of restaurant equipment as possible to fit your space.
- Avoid taping new menu items in over old menu items. Your menu is the first hint a customer has to make their reaction to the type of food you serve. If your menu has been modified by taping a piece of paper over a previous selection, that says something to the customer.
- Avoid adjusting prices in handwritten ink.
- Kid menus are always a hit! When the kids are happy, the parents are happy! By providing a kid’s menu with kid friendly items, you are openly inviting families to join you at your restaurant. It doesn’t hurt to have paper menus with games and activities to keep the kids entertained while waiting for their food.