When choosing a grill, operators should determine what type suits the menu and operation.
Those including griddles in the cook line can choose from manual and thermostatic models. Although less expensive, manual griddles are best suited for operations that have static, specific needs. Thermostatic griddles operate at a set temperature. Electric griddles, less common than gas, are used in smaller volume operations and have the heating element mounted to the bottom. The thicker the griddle plate, the better it will maintain heat.
Space and storage needs are other factors to weigh when specifying grills and griddles. If lack of space is a concern, consider a tabletop unit. For higher volume operations, a base with refrigerated storage may be appropriate. For additional storage and heating capabilities, griddles with warming drawers underneath can hold food or melt cheese.
Operators need to determine what type of equipment will be adjacent to the countertop griddle as grease from these units can splatter. It’s best to have sides and backs around the cooking surface to protect surrounding equipment.
The thickness of the steel plate impacts griddle performance. In heavy-duty models with 1-inch-thick steel, there tends to be less temperature variation throughout the plate, which results in more consistent heat. Thinner steel places tend to have more temperature variations.
The closer together the griddle burners, the faster the temperature recovery and the higher the heating consistency. Typically, heavy-duty countertop griddles have burners that sit 12 inches apart.
Some models have a gutter across the front so operators can more easily scrape debris off the griddle surface and dispose of it in a scrap rail hole. Other types have the gutter down one side instead.
Operators can choose to position countertop units on top of refrigerated bases for easier access to ingredients. In a cook line situation, placing a countertop griddle and chargrill side by side provides a convenient setup for preparing meat and vegetables using two adjacent pieces of equipment. This saves steps in cooking and production. In a fast-paced operation, the fewer the steps, the faster the speed of service and the better the efficiency.
Ventilation requirements are an important purchasing consideration with grills and griddles. Specifying the appropriate hoods with these units is critical. Proper gas pressure is also a factor. In many instances, too little or too much pressure can not only damage the unit, but it can also cause equipment failure.
Gas and electric, single- and double-sided commercial griddles that are thermostatically controlled are eligible for Energy Star certification. These units may utilize highly conductive or reflective plate materials, improved thermostatic controls and strategically placed thermocouples.