The willingness of catering equipment suppliers to adapt to ever-changing kitchen shapes in the casual dining sector has a massive bearing on productivity behind the pass, restaurant chain Wagamama has said.
The company, which operates 121 branches, recently opened a site in Staines, Surrey, which has been regularly serving more than 3,000 customers a week since its launch.
And executive chef, Steve Mangleshot, says the relationship with long-term equipment suppliers has been critical to the success of the operation.
He cited its relationship with Williams Refrigeration, which it has worked with for the best part of 20 years, as a key example – noting that while every restaurant needs the same type of equipment, each has a different amount of space to put it in.
“They’ve always been happy to adapt or develop their products according to our requirements. For example they’ve been able to adapt their counters, adding cut-outs for holding chilled ingredients, or giving them larger worktops or narrower profiles,” he said.
The Staines branch contains a wide range of Williams products, including bottle coolers and bottle wells, counters fitted with doors, drawers and wells, an upright refrigerator, a blast chiller and a dual compartment cold room
“Staines is lucky in that it’s large enough to have a coldroom and separate fridges and freezers,” explained Mangleshot. “The coldrooms are flexible enough that they can be installed virtually anywhere, including outside. This means that smaller locations are able to have chilled and frozen storage, even if there isn’t room for more traditional equipment.”
One of the challenges facing Wagamama is storage, especially with a menu based around fresh ingredients. “We have to keep our seafood fresh and unfrozen,” said Mangleshot. “To save chilled storage space we cook our meat in batches and then use the blast chiller to chill it quickly, which lets us store it in the fridge in perfect condition until it’s needed. Our aim at Wagamama is to provide fast, fresh food and provide our customers with great value for money.”