Restaurant kitchens contain a wide variety of types of refrigeration that can depend on the size of the kitchen, and the types of food served at the particular establishment. Since restaurants typically store many types of prepared food and ingredients in bulk, as well as beverage dispensers, they often have different sized cooling systems that are designed to hold specific items. The size of the ingredients, whether they are already chopped or otherwise prepared, and if they need to be displayed to the customers, will affect the type of restaurant refrigeration that is required.
One of the most common types of restaurant refrigeration is the reach-in refrigerator. This type of refrigerator is similar to a basic home refrigerator and contains two to three shelves in the center, as well as storage shelves inside the door. Reach-in refrigerators are often used in smaller restaurants that don’t hold a large surplus of ingredients. Larger restaurants will generally have walk-in refrigerators, in which the refrigerator is a small enclosed room that can store items in bulk.
An air curtain is a tall, narrow cooling unit that holds several thinly spaced shelves. It contains a fan system that blows cold air around and completely covers the food with cold air at all angles. This variety of restaurant refrigeration is often utilized for trays of food items that are prepared early and will be cooked at a later time, such as small appetizers, stuffed meats, or filled pastries. An air curtain may also be used to keep unbaked bread loaves or other types of dough cool until they need to be heated.
Some restaurants keep certain items, such as prepared desserts and sandwiches, on display near the entrance or waiting area as a way to entice customers and to show off any special items. These display cases, typically referred to as bakery or deli cases, are usually made of glass and have two to three metal shelves, along with a sliding door behind the unit so a server can easily access items. They contain a cooling unit to keep items fresh while they are being exhibited.
Ingredient stations are a type of restaurant refrigeration generally implemented by restaurants that serve pizza, cold sandwiches, and salads. These stations are flat counters with glass front coverings. The counters contain individual sections that keep different ingredients separated, while cooling them all at the same time. The ingredients are already chopped, shredded or otherwise prepared, which makes putting together the desired ingredients more efficient.
Restaurants generally keep a separate refrigeration unit on hand to cool beverages, known as beverage dispensers. These units have individual sections that hold different sodas, juices, beer, or other beverages, along with a nozzle that releases the drinks from the dispenser. Restaurants that serve wine, champagne, or hard alcohol will often have a separate refrigerator unit to store whole bottles since customers may order whole bottles or their drinks may be poured directly from the bottle at the table.