Your restaurant’s refrigerator impacts almost every area of your business, from food storage and presentation to energy costs. A dirty condenser affects energy consumption, health risks and warranties. The refrigerator is the most important piece of equipment in your kitchen.

Cheap refrigerator failures

“Health inspectors who visit restaurants have a very tight temperature range that food is allowed to be stored at,” said Ben Whitlock, president of Mobile Fixture. “If a restaurant has a cheap or poorly made refrigerator, the odds of it holding that tight temperature range are slim to none.”

If the cheap refrigerator has a dirty condensing unit, it’s even worse, as it will have to work even harder to keep within the temperature range.

With a good refrigerator, restaurant management doesn’t have to worry about their equipment’s operation standards, allowing them to focus on their everyday business and increase profit.

Importance of equipment maintenance

Dirty condensers are a concern for all restaurants, but especially in the fast food environment, said David Kourie, EVP of Procurement for QSCC, a supply chain co-op for Wendy's.

“You’ve got a deep fryer and oil in the air, so the condenser will fill up with dirt and dust,” said Kourie. “There is a need for the system to breathe properly.” If the restaurant has a unit with the self-cleaning condenser, the manager doesn’t have to worry at all about the day-to-day maintenance of their equipment.

Also look at warranty agreements. The minimum warranty should be three years, parts and labor. “If the equipment has a lesser warranty, that should be a red flag,” said Whitlock.

Consider these seven benefits of a refrigerator system upgrade:

1. Food consistency

A self-cleaning condenser creates a more reliable commercial refrigerator unit. Restaurant owners can be rest assured their product temperatures will stay consistent.

2. Improved customer experience

When food quality is consistent, it improves the overall customer experience. Better food consistency also increases the speed of service, an important factor at peak business times like lunch hour. Good food and good service bring customers back.

3. Code regulations

Newer commercial refrigerator models are more up-to-date with code, as stated by Cara Schlarb, vice president and general manager with Tundra.

4. Lower maintenance costs

A neighborhood restaurant or a small franchise owner likely doesn’t have a maintenance staff to handle problems with the unit, according to Kyle Bourgeois, director of construction with Smoothie King. A top-quality refrigerator unit with good warranties will lower overall maintenance costs.

5. Energy efficiency

A refrigerator that works hard consumes a lot of energy. Turbo Air has the most Energy Star-approved commercial refrigeration units. The refrigerator performance goes up while the electricity bill goes down.

6. Environmental awareness

“More manufacturers are utilizing the different types of refrigerants with no ozone-depleting properties,” said Schlarb. “In line with current standards, that’s certainly helpful for the entire world.” 

7. Boosted bottom line

When you have a reliable system, you don’t have to worry about downtime, repairs or lost revenue. This all improves the restaurant’s overall bottom line.

Now, once you’ve decided to upgrade your refrigerator, how do you find the right system for you? Prioritize durability over cost. Although quality refrigerator units may not come cheap, upfront cost shouldn’t be a deterrent. “In fact, price should be the last consideration,” said Bourgeois. “You want to focus on running your business and not worry about your equipment.”

Overall, remember that reliability is key. “When your refrigerator is reliable, you aren’t worried about going down at peak times,” said Bourgeois. “Instead, you can focus on your customers.”