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10 Factors to Consider Before Buying New Cafeteria Equipment

new cafeteria equipment

When considering buying new cafeteria equipment for your school kitchen, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you make an informed decision. Here are the top ten factors.

1. Ease of Use

Equipment complexity is an essential factor to consider. Commercial equipment needs to have a low learning curve. The nature of the current labor market means you may be dealing with frequent staff turnover. New employees may have little or no experience in the kitchen. The simpler your equipment is to operate, the better.

CVap® ovens and holding cabinets are incredibly simple to use. Eight popular cooking and holding cycles are preprogrammed into the controls. The preset channels can be reprogrammed if needed to better suit your menu. Either way, staff can press two buttons and be cooking or holding at desired settings. Easy peasy!

2. Budget

Determine your budget and how much you can allocate for purchasing new equipment. Consider not only the initial purchase cost but also the total cost of ownership (TCO). This encompasses any installation, maintenance, and operating expenses.

There are other things to consider when establishing your budget. Is the equipment capable of more than one function? For example, can it both cook AND hold? Does the manufacturer offer rebates?

Winston’s most popular ovens in the school market, CVap Retherm Ovens, can also function as holding cabinets and are significantly cheaper than other oven options. Winston also offers up to $1,250 in rebates when you trade in an old oven for a new CVap oven.

3. Space Availability

New Cafeteria Equipment

Evaluate the floor space in your cafeteria. Measure the dimensions of the area where the new equipment will be installed to ensure it fits properly and allows for proper ventilation and movement. Check your local codes to clarify what equipment must be installed under a vent hood.

Winston offers CVap products in multiple sizes and configurations. Whether you need an under-counter cabinet, a half-size, or a stretch, we’ve got you covered. And CVap ovens don’t require vent hoods (in most locations).

4. Capacity and Volume

New Cafeteria Equipment

Assess the expected volume of students and meals to be served in your cafeteria. Choose equipment with the appropriate capacity to handle your expected workload efficiently. Equipment that is too small may lead to delays, while oversized equipment may waste energy and resources. Consider stacked ovens that allow scalable production, to make the most of a single footprint.

5. Menu Requirements

Analyze your menu and identify the equipment needed to support your food offerings. Consider the types of cooking, heating, cooling, and storage equipment required to prepare and serve the dishes you offer. Ensure that the new equipment aligns with your menu requirements. For most schools, this is a combination of cooking, holding, and serving equipment.

Winston’s CVap equipment is versatile enough to handle any menu. CVap technology’s unique ability to adjust to the precise desired food temperature and texture means you can serve anything from soup to chicken nuggets hot, fresh, and at the perfect consistency.

6. Maintenance and Cleaning

Research the ease of maintenance and cleaning for the equipment you are considering. Equipment that requires complex or frequent maintenance can be time-consuming and costly to manage. Look for equipment with easy-to-clean surfaces, removable parts, and accessible maintenance requirements.

CVap equipment is quite easy to clean and maintain. Racks and rails are removable for washing. The evaporator can be drained via a simple valve. There are no exposed heating elements. All internal surfaces are easy to reach and wipe down. All essential parts are easy to access and replace if necessary.

Be aware that regular cleaning is necessary with stainless steel appliances (which make up most cafeteria equipment). Stainless steel is incredibly tough, but it must be maintained properly. Failure to clean is a common cause of voided manufacturer’s warranties.

7. Durability and Quality

Invest in high-quality equipment from reputable manufacturers to ensure durability and longevity. Read reviews, check warranties, and consider the overall reputation of the brand and product before making a purchase.

Winston proudly stands behind its products. Our equipment is built in the USA, at our factory in Louisville, Kentucky. We support our equipment by providing schools with a two-year labor warranty, and five years on parts.

8. Compatibility with Existing Equipment

Evaluate whether the new equipment will integrate well with your existing infrastructure. Consider factors such as power supply requirements, ventilation systems, and compatibility with other equipment you already have in your cafeteria.

Verify that your electrical system can handle the robust energy needs of new cooking equipment. You may need to consult a licensed electrician to evaluate your existing electrical capabilities and upgrade if needed.

Ideally, new equipment will complement existing equipment. For example, some schools have combi ovens, which are undeniably fast and versatile. Make the most of your combi’s production capabilities by pairing it with CVap Holding Cabinets. CVap offers the highest quality hold you can get, so that great food you’re cooking in the combi will stay just-cooked fresh.

9. Regulatory Compliance

Ensure that the equipment you purchase complies with local health and safety regulations. Look for certifications or approvals from relevant regulatory bodies to ensure that your equipment meets the required standards.

CVap equipment meets all requirements for UL, C-UL, UL Sanitation, CE, MEA, and EPA202.

10. Manufacturer Support and Warranty

Research the reputation and support offered by the equipment suppliers. Check if they provide training, technical support, and after-sales service. Also, review the warranty terms and conditions to understand the coverage and duration of the warranty.

Research the reputation and support offered by the equipment suppliers. Check if they provide training, technical support, and after-sales service. Also, review the warranty terms and conditions to understand the coverage and duration of the warranty.

Decision Time

We know that is a lot of factors to consider. But, if you do your due diligence in researching what equipment will best meet your needs, you will find the solution that will help your school kitchen run smoothly for years.

Of course, the Winston team is happy to help. Contact us today for advice and guidance on your needs.

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