Refrigeration takes many forms in foodservice operations including walk-ins, reach-ins, and display cases.


Refrigerated Display Cases: An Overview

Glass door or open-air display cases house refrigerated or frozen products, including beverages, ice cream, sandwiches, salads and other grab-and-go foods. Operators can position these units as endcaps in a retail setting or group them for a point-of-sale opportunity.

It is important to note that this equipment is designed to keep cold food cold, not to pull down warm food to safe-holding temperatures. Refrigerated display units should hold product between 33 degrees F and 41 degrees F, or food safety can be compromised.

Refrigerated display cases are a broad equipment category that can encompass pass-thrus, roll-ins and undercounter units. Solid-door reach-ins are used mostly for cold food storage in back-of-house settings. Both open and closed display cases can be used in full- and quick-service restaurants; institutional facilities such as schools; and in foodservice operations in hospitals, stadiums, office buildings, hotels and supermarkets.

When it comes to merchandising, open-air display cases offer grab-and-go convenience over glass-door models because there is no barrier between the customer and product. By comparison, closed display cases provide greater energy efficiency.

One-, two- and three-door units are available with either solid or glass doors. Display case dimensions can range from 5 to 80 cubic feet in various heights.

This equipment can range from small refrigerated pie cases that mount to a wall to grab-and-go merchandisers to curved glass display cases. Sizes vary, but typically glass-door cases are 27, 30, 52 or 78 inches wide; open-air cases are 27, 30, 52 or 78 inches wide; bakery/deli cases are 50, 59 or 77 inches wide; and countertop displays are 24 inches wide.

Open-air, glass-door, countertop bakery and deli merchandisers are available with either remote or self-contained refrigeration systems, depending on the unit. A top-mounted condensing unit and evaporator coil; a top-mounted condensing unit with interior evaporator coil; and a bottom-mounted condensing unit with interior evaporator coil are offered.

Many cases for commercial use have a stainless-steel exterior with interior finishes of either stainless or ABS material. Shelves are either stainless or glass. From a merchandising standpoint, the more glass on the unit, the better its merchandising ability.

Utility requirements range from 115 volt, 1 phase, 15 amp to 208-230 volt, 3 phase, 30 amp.

Temperature monitoring choices include standard electronic controllers for reliability, defrost timers, thermometers and alarms for high-temperature alerts.

Standard features include interior lighting; shelving, legs, or casters; an external thermometer; foamed-in-place urethane insulation; automatic condensation evaporation; and self-closing doors with lift-off hinges.

Security covers are an option available with some models. These lock open-front displays during non-operational hours and secure the unit to enhance the refrigeration system’s efficiency.

Energy-Star qualified units and state-of-the-art electronic controls are available, in addition to compressors and fan motors that provide higher-efficiency operation.


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