A new Drake & Morgan site at Heathrow’s Terminal 4 has credited the design of the kitchen – and the type of equipment within it – with helping it to achieve super-quick ticket times.
The new 175-seater casual dining and cocktail bar concept, called ‘The Commission’, was created exclusively for Heathrow and, although a Drake & Morgan site, it is operated by hospitality and foodservice company Delaware North.
As it is open 16 hours a day, from breakfast to late night dinner and snacks, it is a high-pressure site with a constant stream of customers who often want to be served quickly.
This meant the chain put catering equipment that is reliable, efficient and capable of delivering a high performance at the top of its priorities when planning the kitchen.
Nils Braude, operational director for Delaware North’s travel sector, said: “Space in an airport is at a premium, so the kitchen had to be as small as possible. For example, with the refrigeration we needed maximum storage in the smallest possible space. With the cooking equipment, it had to be fast and compact.”
Being in an airport, the equipment also had to be electric-powered. “In the current market electricity is very expensive. So we needed energy efficient refrigeration, and cooking appliances that gave instant heating power, without costing a fortune and creating an unworkable environment.”
The kitchen, which was installed by Airedale, features a mix of Williams counters and undercounters, for both chilled and frozen storage. There are several specialist models, including a meat cabinet, a fish cabinet and a Thermowell, a chilled countertop unit for holding fresh ingredients safely. “With refrigeration, reliability is key,” says Braude. “Particularly in an airport, due to our huge workload and because we can’t just get engineers airside at the drop of a hat.”
The restaurant also has a bespoke walk-in coldroom at the back of the kitchen for extra storage. “Staff are in and out of it all day and we need the temperature to stay consistent,” says Braude. “We use it for pretty much everything that comes up from the stores, for the restaurant and the bar. It’s our holding area, our halfway house. Williams gives us the temperature control we need.”
Originally the coldroom was specified with integral refrigeration, but during the build it became clear that the site would need a remote system.
Two key cooking appliances are the induction range and the rise and fall grill, both supplied by Falcon.
“We looked for equipment that fitted in a very small space, with high production outputs and accurate, consistent cooking temperatures,” explained Braude. “Longevity was also very important for us. We don’t want to have to replace the equipment for a good few years.”
The rise and fall grill uses automatic plate sensing technology to only activate the heat source when the tray is placed into the unit, just like induction. And its powerful infrared elements ensure instant heat-up and precise temperature control.
“The new kitchen is performing very well, very smoothly,” insists Braude. “All our chefs are comfortable in it, and have been from day one. We’re hitting a very good ticket time for all the food items, which is thanks to the design, but also to the performance of the cooking appliances and the refrigeration that the guys rely on. It’s all in the right place, the workflow suits us really well, and I have a happy kitchen team as a result.”