Exploring Central Production Kitchens & Equipment as Minimum Wages Rise
In the restaurant and foodservice industries, where profit margins are already tight, and the list of budget considerations can be a mile long – finances may get more complicated. While the ‘Raise the Wage Act of 2021’ failed to pass and there has yet to be an increase in the federal minimum wage in the United States, many states are paying increasing minimum wages.
For food and beverage businesses to survive the increasing labor costs, many have begun seeking creative, cost-effective solutions like centralized production kitchens.
Across North America, multi-unit foodservice and restaurant businesses have been exploring or expanding centralized production kitchens. Equipped with a full line of efficient, automated cooking equipment such as a DC Norris’ commercial sous vide cook tank, belt tumble chiller, heat seal pump fill station, and cooking kettles–these centralized kitchens are used to prepare, cook, refrigerate and freeze bulk quantities of food before transporting it to its respective service facility for thermalization and serving. Centralized production kitchens deliver a multitude of benefits including:
- Minimized labor costs
- Consistent recipe adherence and finished product quality
- Automated production process
- A dedicated space for brand, recipe, and menu development
- Additional income potential if the central kitchen is rented out during periods of low use
What is a Central Production Kitchen (CPU)?
A central production kitchen is a kitchen space where meals or recipe components (such as meats and proteins) are prepared to a predetermined point and then properly stored until they’re needed in a service location (such as a restaurant). As needed, prepared foods are then delivered to individual locations for plating and serving. Because central production kitchens allow for consistent high-quality among many other benefits, the concept of centralized production suits a variety of food-based businesses from coffee shops and convenience markets to high-end restaurants. CPUs have been common for decades in the franchise and multi-unit space but the recent challenges food-based businesses have been handed makes central production kitchens an essential choice for many food businesses today.
What Equipment Can Increase Efficiency in a Centralized Kitchen?
A centralized kitchen helps save on labor costs by decreasing the number of employees needed, automating tasks, and streamlining training. It should be equipped accordingly. Centralized production kitchens around the globe run on an array of DC Norris equipment including:
- Electric and steam jacketed cooking kettles
- Belt tumble chillers
- Heat seal pump fill station
- Can openers and crushers
- Sous vide cook tanks
Properly equipping your centralized kitchens can provide a wide variety of benefits:
- Cooking off-site keeps operational costs down in individual restaurants and service locations
- Employees at the service site can focus on presentation and customer service
- Less kitchen maintenance is required when the prep and cooking process is centralized into one kitchen
- Large-batch products can be created and quickly chilled or frozen and then shipped out with ease
- Products (properly cooked and stored) have a longer shelf life, which helps with inventory costs
While increasing the price of menu items or cutting staff might alleviate financial stress in the short term, food-based business owners need to look beyond this immediate resolution to build strong, viable businesses. Making sudden or dramatic staff changes can ultimately affect the quality of finished products and the service customers experience. Set your business up for success now and in the future with a centralized production kitchen.
More About the DC Norris North America Equipment Highlighted in this Article:
- Commercial Sous Vide Cook Tank
- Belt Tumble Chiller
- Heat Seal Pump Fill Station
- Cooking Kettles
- Can Opening & Crushing Equipment
April 30, 2021
Join DC Norris North America President, Dick Smith, for a virtual discussion about setting up a centralized production kitchen on 04/30/21. Smith will answer your questions in a live Q&A-style session on the topic of centralized production kitchens and equipment. Attendance is free, registration is required.