Non-food countertop dispensers represent a functional part of the front-of-house aesthetic. For this reason, appearance, cleanliness of the dispensing process and sizing for the space are important factors to consider.
Steve Waltz, senior associate-project manager at Cini-Little International Inc., based in Washington, D.C., discusses key considerations when purchasing a countertop dispenser.
With condiments, it comes down to portion control and waste. The type or style of the facility will dictate the dispensing needs as well as how much money the operator wants to invest.
Dispensing space should be considered, including the entire stand. For example, if customers are coming off the line with a tray or plate, it’s important that the dispensing area provides room for this to be put down or that the dispensers are easy to use with one hand.
Operators need to consider the volume and size of the operation. If there are less than 100 seats, there should not be more than one quart of condiments available at one time. The more controls there are in the dispensing process, the less waste there will be.
With condiments, operators need to decide whether bulk or portion control makes the most sense. Bulk is best used in high-volume operations, like concession stands in convention centers and stadiums. The bulk dispensers do require power and need to be broken down and cleaned regularly. These use pumps with condiment bags and require minimal labor compared with portion control dispensing, which requires constant replenishing. The advantages of portion control or prepackaged condiments are more control and less waste.
With utensil, straw and lid dispensing, lids are the biggest challenge as it is difficult to get access to one at a time.
More manufacturers are incorporating utensil dispensers into their operations. The type with a handle that provides product one at a time is clean and cost-effective.
Dispensers for unwrapped straws are not used as often today as this is not as sanitary as dispensing wrapped straws.
No matter what the product, one-at-a-time dispensing offers better control and less waste.
Maintenance is an important consideration when purchasing dispensers. Operators shouldn’t put out more product than will be used and should specify units that will help keep the area clean.
Operators can choose from plastic or stainless finishes. Stainless is more durable, has a longer service life and is easier to keep clean.