The reach-in versus walk-in debate is probably nearly as old as commercial refrigeration. Walk-in refrigerators offer convenience and storage, but at the expense of valuable kitchen space. On the other hand, reach-ins often provide adequate storage for smaller restaurants without the need to essentially add a small room to your kitchen.
Unfortunately, requirements can change over time. If your restaurant is seeing a more significant number of visitors or you find yourself storing more food on hand, then your reach-in options may seem a bit limited. Even if a reach-in refrigerator was previously the best option for your kitchen, these three signs might indicate that it's time for an upgrade.
1. You've Started Making Larger Purchase Orders
Not all perishable goods have short shelf lives. It may make sense to order in bulk for many refrigerated kitchen items, even if you don't expect to use your entire order in a single business day. This approach can be more valuable now than ever, with supply disruptions impacting the restaurant industry even as the country reopens.
Storing bulk orders in a reach-in refrigerator can be frustrating and may lead to an overcrowded or poor organization system for your food. Even if you have the physical space you need, adding more items can impact workflow and slow your kitchen employees down. Upgrading to a walk-in is an excellent option to expand your storage space to accommodate larger purchases.
2. Organization Is Becoming a Problem
If you've run a restaurant for a long time, you know that workflow is by far the most critical aspect of any kitchen design. Your employees need to have access to everything they need, and minor disruptions can lead to slow or even missed orders. Organization is a critical part of kitchen workflow, extending from cooking tools right up to refrigerated ingredients.
Since reach-in refrigerators have less available space, organizing goods inside them can be more of a challenge. Adding a few extra items here or there can throw these fragile organization schemes out of place, resulting in less efficient kitchen operations. If you're noticing this problem in your kitchen, it's time to consider moving up to a walk-in refrigerator.
3. You're Expanding Capacity
Reach-in refrigerators offer compact footprints, but walk-ins are king when it comes to efficient space utilization. If you're expanding your restaurant's capacity, then a walk-in refrigerator might be the best way to accommodate your need for more perishable goods. Additionally, a sizeable walk-in unit may offer not only enough space for your current expansion but also for your future plans.
Remember that there's no need to replace your existing reach-in refrigerators when you upgrade. You can keep your current units while investing in a walk-in refrigerator to suit your restaurant's changing requirements. Keep these tips in mind when looking for a restaurant refrigeration service, such as Professional Kitchen Equipment Solutions.