Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

SEP 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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20 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • SEPTEMBER 2017 operator's opinion F rench fries have become a constant companion with hamburgers — and with good reason: they are perfect together! Such is the case at Five Guys. We are a fast-casual burger concept with more than 1,450 locations spanning 49 states and nine countries. A typical Five Guys location will prep between 5 and 7 bags of potatoes every day, which is between 500 and 600 pota- toes. Our 50-pound bags of potatoes arrive from Idaho at each store. When it is time to prep another bag of potatoes, we bring them to the drainboard- mounted fry cutter to begin the process. Given the volume and frequency with which our crew prepares fries, our potato cutters and sinks would often require repairs. Welders were constantly in our stores repairing mounts, drainboards and more. Over the years, we had been wonder- ing if there was a way to better handle this aspect of our operation. We were looking to improve our fry cutting and washing process. We definitely wanted to get more consistent results with our potatoes, and we had been wondering for some time if we could also reduce our water usage as well as our labor. We looked at large commercial potato chip manufacturers and found they use a large centrifuge to clean and prepare their prod- uct. Someone even pitched us a centrifuge to put in our stores. It was not until the National Restaurant Association show in 2013, though, that someone pitched us an idea that was foodservice friendly. We entered the manufacturer's booth to find them washing blueberries and strawberries in a continuous motion sink. We asked the company rep working the booth if the sink could wash potatoes and he said, "Sure!" After "Sure!" Of course, developing the final solution was a little more complicated than that. Most manufacturers are volume driven, and when you approach them about cus- tom solutions the first thing they always want to know is, "How many are you going to buy?" When the salesperson goes back to the engineering and corporate teams the project will often die if the company feels you are not going to buy enough. Most manufacturers maintain the mentality that custom is just not their business. In this instance, they told us yes from day one and then they figured it out. I was attached at the hip with their lead prod- uct innovation guy for two years. Having a manufacturer with a customer-centric attitude toward product development will really make the process work. The innova- tion manager and engineers came into our Five Guys locations and spent lots of time understanding what was and was not working for us. There was a lot of engineering around the potato cutter and drainboard. After developing the prototype, the manufac- turer made use of Accelerated Durability Testing to simulate 10 years of use on the cutter mount, support and anything else that might experience fatigue from our potato cutting process. Their desire to pro- vide us with a durable product was evident. What attracted us to the possibility of developing this equipment was that we saw in the proof of concept that we would be There was a lot of engineering around the potato cutter and drainboard. Collaborative Effort Pays Dividends Brian Gill Equipment and Smallwares Specialist Five Guys Lorton, Va.

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