The Lowdown on Cookline Installations
Last month we were excited to share some great news about our Project Managers being trained by FSF Manufacturing in the fine art of measuring and estimating a custom stainless food service installation. In this blog, let’s take a deeper dive on the subject of cook line replacements. We’ll share a bit about our process and preparation for this type of job, as well as a time-lapse video of an actual installation. Let’s get started.
The phone rings with a request for a cook line installation. We’ve got a few items to consider.
The time frame required can vary, and since there are several stakeholders working with this project, we have to consider all of them:
The process for installing a new cookline should always start with a conversation with Operations. If asked, Chef will have several “wish list” areas of improvement and they should be accommodated if at all possible.
Most brands we work with have some level of Design consideration. The new cookline must blend with its surrounding environment- especially with more open/visible kitchens being the trend.
The Manufacturer of the cookline will need some lead time to get the project through engineering, back to you for approval, and then produced.
Subcontractors – We’ll detail this further below, but certain services may require adjustments. For example, dropping in a new electrical panel to feed a cookline that draws substantially more power is no small task, and must be planned accordingly.
Trumping all of these factors is safety. If an unsafe situation exists – like a leaking gas line – necessitating an accelerated process, it’s all hands on deck. We work toward getting all of the stakeholders listed above to accelerate their involvement.
RFS® has installed cooklines that are 20’ long, contain several components, and are delivered integrated with multiple services, like gas, water, drain lines, and electrical. Each component is built-in to the cookline (requiring connections to existing restaurant services). There are times when the new cookline draws more power, or consumes more gas than the existing services can provide. It’s important to verify these service needs BEFORE the cookline arrives for installation.
In most cases, the new cookline we are installing is configured differently than the one we are removing. We often see more efficient use of space, with increases in burners, broilers, cooking surfaces, etc. Yet, all of this has to be installed in the same footprint of the one we just removed. Planning for how to transport the new cookline to the facility, which door it will be carried through, how many men are required to carry it, and the safety and security of the building, our crew, and surrounding equipment are all very important considerations.
Drains should align and electrical panels need to have enough power to feed the unit. Gas services need to have enough flow to run increases in burner and broiler capacity, existing flooring may need modifying, and surrounding walls (in some cases studs, backer board, and stainless sheeting), may all need replacing before the cookline is installed.
Removal of the existing cookline
Sealing off existing services and removing the existing cookline can be complicated, especially if the plan involves ensuring the kitchen stays operational throughout the process. Coordination with the client on disposal requirements is also important.
Curbs vs. Wheels
The current trend is to create modular cooklines on wheels, to allow Operations to move them for cleaning, grout and tile repair, and access to areas behind the equipment. Many kitchens were built with fixed Cooklines, installed on curbs, that will need to be removed to facilitate new tile and grout and wheeled equipment.
Many existing equipment configurations have reefers built into the line, which are fed by master refrigeration systems, often located on the roof or in equipment rooms. Replacing these units with self-contained units requires some coordination with a mechanical contractor to, at a minimum seal off the existing service, and potentially could include removal of a refrigeration unit altogether.
Integrated vs. Modular
Prior generations of cook and prep lines tended to be an integrated design. This made replacing individual equipment impractical if not impossible. With today’s more modern approach towards modular design, replacing a salad station, refrigeration drawer bank, steam table, or other end-of –life equipment becomes far more practical and cost effective.
There’s a lot to consider when selecting a contractor to install your new cookline. Only the most experienced contractors should even be considered. It’s not a bad idea to have the contractor you choose to provide the name and some references of the actual Lead who has experience in this area – it’s too important to leave to chance. Click the link below to see a time-lapse video that makes an RFS cookline installation it look easy.