Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

OCT 2018

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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● ● ● ● ● ● ● 68 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • OCTOBER 2018 chain profile have the drawer space for the additional lettuce. [The lettuce refrigerator] allowed us to use the wall more efficiently to ac- cess the lettuce and reduce our cooler size in that area." Following the pantry station is a small hand sink, then the expo station, which includes another refrigerated worktable holding garnishes, toppings and other finishing touches. The expo is the literal center of the kitchen, with dishes coming from all directions to that spot. One small change to expo, Sturm notes, was a slight widening of the expo window, giv- ing team members more room to stage orders. After the expo station comes a steam table holding sauces, au jus, mashed potatoes and other hot items. Staffers at this station typically receive entrees (including steaks, seafood and burgers), add their hot items, then pass the plate to expo for finishing. The Grill Station At the end of the dining-room-facing line sits the grill station, which includes several pieces. The restaurant's wood-fired grill, naturally, serves as the heart of this station. The grill actually shrunk to 57 inches from 72 inches in the new prototype. Practically speaking though, no cooking space was lost, says Sturm. "Before, we were using a larger grill and using a third of it just to rest steaks. What we discovered is that we could go with a smaller grill and a small table to rest steaks. That obviously reduces the money for the grill but also how much hood space we need." While the small table sits between the grill and the steam table, on the other side of the grill resides a worktable with refrigerated drawers below for holding grill items like steaks, seafood and chicken. Line cooks use the worktop to season and perform any other necessary prep before placing food on the grill. A second undercounter unit sits 180 degrees from this table and holds lower-volume grill items. The grill marks one side of the production kitchen. The other side contains the bulk of the restaurant's cooking equipment. While splitting hot-side equipment like this is unusual, says Sturm, it makes sense for the way Firebirds has all its food flow to the expo station. This line starts with an undercounter freezer holding french fries. Next comes a pair of fryers which staff use to cook fries, onion rings and fish for crispy fish tacos. Firebirds holds these items in undercounter drawers that sit below a flattop grill next to the fryers. The flattop itself measures five linear feet and culinary staff use it to make items like crab cakes and seared tuna, as well as to toast buns. Previously, Firebirds had two separate flattops totaling five feet separated by a rolling rack holding buns. The restaurant now stores the buns elsewhere, allowing Firebirds to combine the two units. After the flattop comes a half- size sheet pan rack with a stain- less steel top that holds cooked onion rings and fries, followed by the saute station. This station makes use of the flattop under- counter refrigeration as well. It also has its own refrigeration in the form of a cold table with wells. The wells hold everything from blanched pasta to meatloaf to vegetables to sauces. Saute pans and dry ingredients are held on shelves above the table. In the previous design, says Sturm, this table had a larger work surface that held a row of six single burners. The chain has moved away from that approach. "From an efficiency standpoint it was pretty good because all the ingredients you needed were right behind the burners. From a practicality standpoint, guys were reaching over hot burners," he says. Instead of this row of single burners, the new design specifies an eight burner rangetop next to the refrigerated table. Staff use the convection oven below the burners to fin- ish items like meatloaf and sesame salmon. While this marks the end of the production kitchen, Firebirds features hot equipment in its prep area, as well. This includes a double-stacked convection oven for baked potatoes, bread, bacon and other items; a four-burner stove that staff use to prep vegetables and pasta; and a tilt skillet for soups, sauces and Firebirds' signature lobster spinach queso. The prep area remains essentially unchanged in the new design. The chain's storage space has gotten an overhaul, though. Walk-ins moved from the interior to outside of the building (though flush with the exterior wall), which Sturm says saved about 300 square feet of space inside. That saved space — and the associated cost savings — un- doubtedly will make Firebirds future growth easier. "The biggest issue is construction cost and getting quality help," Loftis says. Continue to Evolve Firebirds currently has stores in 18 states. Though most of these are along the Atlantic Coast, it also has restaurants in the Midwest and as far west as Arizona. The chain is cur- rently exploring expansion into Texas, Louisiana, and Colo- rado as well as a few other states. Its focus will be on "prime suburban markets with average household incomes of more than $75,000," says the company. In these markets, Firebirds believes the new design will attract not just couples and families but people out for a good time, including happy hour guests and those celebrating special occasions. FE&S ● Chain Headquarters: Charlotte, N.C. ● Year Founded: 2000 ● Signature Menu Items: Hand-cut steaks, Slow Roasted Prime Rib, Lobster Spinach Queso, BLT Salad, Chile Rubbed Delmonico, Wood Grilled Salmon, Creme Brulée Cheese- cake, Double Black Diamond Martini ● Number of Units: 45 ● Unit Size: Approximately 3,200 square feet ● Seats per Unit: 240 ● Location Type: Freestanding and end-cap FACTS OF NOTE

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