Chain's Fryer Solution Introduces Operational Efficiencies

Eat'n Park's new fryer set up is safer, easier to maintain

Eat'n Park originally started in 1949 as a drive-through restaurant — Pittsburgh's first drive-in restaurant with carhops. From its relatively modest beginnings the Pennsylvania-based family dining chain has grown to more than 75 restaurants.

"We are an innovative company that has seamlessly grown and adjusted its offerings to fit the needs of consumers — all the way from small beginnings to big business," says Dennis Quinlisk, director of maintenance for Eat'n Park. "From there we've grown into a full-service family restaurant with salad bars, buffets and an in-house bakery."

In an attempt to keep the concept fresh and relevant, Eat'n Park has spent significant time and effort reevaluating and redesigning its menu to better serve those with specific health needs. "When families come into our restaurant they have every right to expect that we know how to treat their allergies and that we will not serve them food that will make their children sick," Quinlisk points out.

Like many family dining concepts, Eat'n Park reaches a broad demographic. To help meet these diverse needs and expectations, the chain has six menus, separate from the full menu, which caters to certain specifications. Diners may choose from menus that address such needs as celiac, vegetarian, low carb, reduced sodium, smaller portion and its own Eat'n Smart menus. "Consumers with dietary restrictions can come to Eat'n Park to find peace of mind, good prices, family environments and quality foods that meet their unique needs," says Quinlisk.

Quality In, Quality Out

After creating menus that support the chain's brand promise, Eat'n Park executives set out to find equipment solutions that allow staff to execute in an effective and efficient manner.

So while attending a trade show, the Eat'n Park team decided to test a new frying solution that offered ease of use and maintenance while not compromising product quality. "When we were researching our options, we knew we needed to consider cost of maintenance and eliminate the breakdowns that were previously interfering with operations while serving customers," says Quinlisk. "In the past, we could filter once a day but you'd have to shut the fryer down for 10 to 15 minutes and clean it and put it back together."

As director of maintenance, Quinlisk knows the importance of individual parts working together for one unified result. Eat'n Park's fryers operate in line with this principle. The system allows staff to filter the oil in any vat in less than four minutes, continually top off oil to ensure the shortening remains at the proper level and a filter system that extracts particulate and other impurities from the oil. "These changes allow us to save in manpower," says Quinlisk. "That's something you just can't put a price on."

A Smiley on Every Face

As a result of updating its frying system, Eat'n Park has reduced its shortening usage by 40 percent, according to the company. The new frying system has allowed Eat'n Park to become more efficient in other ways. "Recycling shortening into diesel fuel saves the energy or the cost of the grease...it's a big thing for us," says Quinlisk. "Our fryers' simple filtering process means you could filter every hour or two. Because of this, we can filter right in the middle of lunch and it keeps the grease and shortening much better...it really has increased the quality of our fried products tremendously."

And it enhances productivity and employee safety. "Time is saved and no one is at risk of getting burned; what a huge weight to be lifted," says Quinlisk. "Before, you had to have a separate filter, pump the filter out, put the hose in, pump it back in...worst part about that was you'd get splashed with hot grease if you didn't let it cool properly. Let's just say dangers and liabilities are virtually nonexistent in comparison to the old ways."

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