Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

AUG 2019

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70 FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES AUGUST 2019 CHAIN PROFILE down produce from whole to the differ- ent cuts required for the chain's recipes. Each store has a cook and a cook's assistant who make items like rice and couscous, different dips (including 10 types of hummus) and several salads. The kitchen's hot line starts with a convection oven — typically a single unit but sometimes a double-stack if demand warrants it. Here, staff roast veggies and bake pastries like baklava and Moroccan cookies. Next to the convection oven sits a 28-inch gas-ƒred chargrill on cast- ers, which is used exclusively to grill eggplant for baba ganoush. Another eggplant-focused unit comes next, in the form of a single fryer. The eggplant fried in this unit produces a Spanish eggplant dip, made with egg- plant, tomatoes and seasonings. Next comes a rangetop with six or eight burners, depending on the location. Here cooks boil chickpeas for hummus (day two of a three-day process for making hummus), make rice and other grains in bulk and more. Notably, there's no undercounter refrigeration on the hot line. Instead, team members store items in the res- taurant's walk-in cooler or 180 degrees away in two undercounter units with work surfaces, where prep staff and cooks do much of their work. A steam table separates these undercounter units and stores bulk hot items, such as the aforementioned couscous and rice. Restocking food up front is practi- cally a full-time job in and of itself, says Pesso. Like so many fast-casual operations, when an ingredient is running low up front, assembly line members use a telephone or intercom system to notify a co-worker in the back, who then ƒlls a new pan or tray and brings it to the front. "When you come to our line, it is vibrant and full, and it looks great. We never want it to look dry, like it's been sitting out. This guest-facing food display in the front starts with an insulated breadbox, which keeps pita and laffa warm. It's at this spot that guests choose from four meats (lamb, chicken shawarma, chicken breast and steak), falafel or a non-falafel vegetarian option made with ƒllings like grilled vegetables, chickpea salad or hardboiled egg. Alternatively, they can choose from one of four popular items on the restaurant's express menu, with preselected toppings and ƒllings. Guests who order from this menu can then skip the assembly line and head straight to the cashier. This option, says Pesso, helps simplify the process for new customers or those in a hurry, while also improving throughput. Following the breadbox are the various ingredients that guests can add to an order. A cold table with wells starts the lineup and displays the chain's 10 hummus types. After that comes a steam table with rice, grilled vegetables, chicken breast, steak and more, followed by another cold table with various salads, dips and other cold items, such as tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves and beet salad. Toward the end of this guest-facing line sits a shake machine. Here staff make the concept's proprietary Chickpea Chiller, a shake-like dessert item made with hummus, almond milk and fruit. While the shake machine marks the end of the guest-facing assembly line, a front-of-the-house hot line sits on the back wall, just a 180-degree turn away. At the start of this line (directly across from the insulated bread box) are two vertical broilers (aka shawarma machines) used to cook chicken thighs and lamb. When guests order one of these proteins, a staffer turns around and slices it fresh. The machines sit on a large refrigerated base that runs nearly the entire length of the back wall. Next to the shawarma machines is a 30-inch "attop and then a tabun oven, a close relative of the tandoor. These two pieces are used in concert, says Pesso. Raw chicken breast and steak (held in the refrigerated base) are placed on skewers and then cooked in the tabun. Both are then cut for use in the short term. Since chicken takes 30 minutes to cook in the tabun (versus just 10 min- utes for steak), the restaurant staff make extra breasts and store them whole in a separate, covered pan. "If we're running out of chicken, we can take it from the steam pan, throw it on the grill, cut it, warm it, marinate it a little bit and then it's beautiful," says Pesso. After the "attop is the fry station, where staffers make fried eggplant, falafel, french fries and more. This station consists of two fryers (with one dedicated to gluten-free items) along with an 18-inch worktable where the falafel mix is made and held. With its operations, business processes and branding all nailed down, The Hummus & Pita Co. has set an aggressive franchise plan for itself: 100 restaurants in the next 5 years. The chain is starting to ramp up to reach that num- ber. Four of its seven current restaurants are franchised, with another two set to open soon, and several additional stores are in development. FE&S The hot line in the front of the house starts with two shawarma machines, followed by a 30-inch flattop, then a tabun oven.

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