When specifying hot and cold display cases, the menu is the first consideration as the equipment will support its needs. This also will determine whether a full- or self-service unit is appropriate.
Base the unit’s size on anticipated sales, storage volume and product holding times or how long products will stay in the case.
In addition to size, evaluate the display case’s length and number of shelves to ascertain how much product it can display. How quickly a product is expected to sell is another factor to consider. Shelf adjustability can provide added flexibility with menu changes and different-size products.
Application helps verify the type of display unit an operation requires. While unpackaged foods must be merchandised in a closed display and served by an attendant, packaged foods can be marketed for customer self-service in open-front displays.
Retail applications and operations with minimal counter space should consider compact grab-and-go styles and countertop units. Mobile heated merchandisers are available for use on countertops or as island units.
The required holding time length will determine the type of heating system that best suits the application. Options include heated shelves, infrared lights and forced hot air circulated through the cavity. Units with heated bottoms may utilize decorative heat lamps hanging from the ceiling, which are suitable for front-of-house use.
Specifying hot and cold display cases also depends on the shelf life of menu items. Exposing unpackaged menu items displayed in a closed case to cold air blowing inside the display or heat from lights inside a non-refrigerated display can negatively impact food quality.
Combination cases having one refrigerated and one non-refrigerated section in the same unit without a physical divider work well with grab-and-go applications and are space savers.
Security covers are an option available for some display case models during non-operational hours or when not in use. These covers lock the open-front displays to protect them from theft and tampering and close off the unit to enhance the refrigeration system’s efficiency.
The environment’s temperature and humidity are factors with refrigerated cases. Warmer or more humid environments may produce condensation or sweating inside the case. This can be an issue with open display cases and can impact energy efficiency. In these situations, high-humidity cases work best but are still not always effective in high-humidity settings.