Every seasoned restaurateur should understand the importance of a well-organised coolroom.
By storing your perishable produce strategically, you’ll prolong its shelf life and enable staff to pinpoint what they need on the fly. Running a coolroom 24/7 is a significant operational cost, so it makes financial sense to optimise every square inch.
Whether you’ve been rearranging your commercial cold room for decades or you’re a newbie to the hospitality game, there’s always room for improvement. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together this industrial coolroom organisational guide.
The Importance of Coolroom Organisation
Before we dive into our tips and tricks, let’s analyse why organisation is so essential.
Food safety should be your number one priority; serving rotten produce is a sure-fire way to ruin your reputation (and face potential lawsuits). A well-organised coolroom ensures sufficient circulation to prolong shelf-life while enabling staff to quickly identify use-by-dates.
Good organisation also enhances efficiency. Rather than aimlessly sifting through endless boxes of stock, staff can quickly grab exactly what they need. Time is money, and time wasted rummaging through a chaotic coolroom will negatively affect your business’s bottom line. What’s more, the added efficiency lets your team pump meals out faster, keeping hungry customers content and bolstering your reputation.
Finally, a well-organised coolroom enhances workplace satisfaction. Staff will find their job more enjoyable when everything is where it should be, thus improving work ethic and reducing turnover.
How To Organise An Industrial Coolroom
Now you’re up to speed on why you need a well-organised coolroom, we’ll provide some handy tips on how to obtain and maintain one.
Train your staff to date and label produce the moment it enters the coolroom. That way, they can instantly identify what’s due to expire.
Labelled shelves make it obvious what produce goes where thus saving wait staff valuable time. Restocking also becomes easier, as it takes the guesswork out of the equation. Labels help during stocktake, too, as staff can see exactly what’s needed and what’s not.
To ensure everyone gets on board, keep a cup full of permanent markers and stickers handy.
It’s important to implement “first-in, first-out,” an internationally accepted food storage strategy.
In a nutshell, the produce that goes into storage first needs to be removed and served before everything else. That way, customers get to dine on the freshest possible produce, and your restaurant minimises food waste.
Proper labelling is essential to ensure staff consistently follow the FIFO strategy.
Group Common Items Together
Organising common categories in close proximity can reduce the time it takes to find specific foods. The ideal formula will vary, so you’ll need to choose the system that works for you and stick to it.
As an example, you could group fruit and veg on one shelf, meat and poultry on another, and desserts elsewhere.
While it may be tempting to ram pack as much perishable produce as possible, an overstocked coolroom can cause all sorts of issues. A crowded space is more challenging to navigate and will make it harder for staff to pinpoint specific items.
Overcrowding will also reduce airflow, which is essential for keeping the room cool. Cram in too much stock, and you might find the cooler gets too hot, thus spoiling your produce.
Keep Your Meat Down Low
Beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and other fleshy animal products should sit down towards the ground, preferably about six inches off the floor.
The objective is to eliminate the chance of cross-contamination, which could prove costly should it occur. When meat thaws, its bacteria-ridden juices and marinades drip downwards, potentially spoiling everything that lies below.
Factor in Air Flow
Industrial coolrooms needs intermittent air gaps to ensure the crisp cold air spreads evenly throughout the room. Avoid packing your produce right against the walls or insulation panels, ideally spacing them at least three inches from the edge.
Although you’ll lose real estate, you won’t have to worry about warm spots spoiling your food.
Keep an Eye on the Thermostat
Set your fridge at about 4C and the freezer -15C or below to keep your produce fresh.
You’ll need to keep an eye on the thermostat on older systems to ensure the unit is working as intended. Modern systems send an automated notification to your phone to alert you about any significant temperature variations – the nifty feature could save you thousands in spoiled stock.
If you’re searching for commercial refrigeration in Adelaide, look no further than John Bossy Refrigeration. With over 30 years of experience in the business, the team offers the most comprehensive industrial cooling solutions in South Australia. Contact us today!