The most common piece of heavy equipment in a commercial kitchen is the range. Ranges offer a lot of flexibility – you can use them for baking, broiling, boiling, roasting, sautéing, grilling and more. When shopping for a range, consider these things:
How big of a range do you need? Let your menu be your guide. Restaurant ranges come as narrow as 24″ or as wide as 72″ or more. Ask yourself simple questions to determine what your needs are:
- How often will you be using it? Are you buying for a church or other type of location that does not need to use it every day or a busy 24 hour a day operation?
- Do you already have a standalone convection oven, or will the oven in your range be the oven you use all the time?
- How will you use the range? Will you mostly use it for sautéing or boiling in big pots?
- What are you cooking? Are you cooking simple breakfast items or signature dishes?
- How will you use the oven? Will you mostly be baking or roasting?
Key Tip: Local codes usually require ranges to be under a ventilating hood, with 6 inches to spare on either side. Check with your local code inspector to be sure you will be in compliance.
When determining the size you need, the available hood space is a good place to start. If you have a 14′ hood, consider what other items need to go under it. Convection oven (30″)? Deep fat fryer (2 @ 21″wide)? Charbroiler (30″)? How much room will be left? In this example, after deducting 6″ clearance per side, there will be 54″ of available space (14′x12″= 168″, minus 30″, minus 42″, minus 30″, and minus 6″ clearance per end). With 54″ of space available, the next questions to ask are what will you be cooking and what do you need to get that done? If you will be serving breakfast, a flattop griddle is a convenient timesaver. Hash browns, eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes can all be done on a griddle. Determine the ideal width you would like to work with on a grill. 24″ is common, but you may need more or less. You can also have a finishing broiler underneath a raised griddle for melting cheeses or browning.
The remaining space available can be filled with burners. Burners are available in 12″ and 18″ widths. The narrow 12″ ones are convenient for sautéing and other frypan cooking; 18″ wide burners are more stable when using large stock pots for broths or sauces.
The next thing to consider is how to effectively use the space you have below the range. Oven(s) and/or storage? Convection oven or standard? Space saver or full size? Full size ovens can hold a full size sheet pan left to right and front to back. A space saver will only hold a full bun pan front to back. Decide what your kitchen needs the most- then you have your answer. These are just some of the questions to consider when designing your new range. There are multiple options available within these choices. Griddles can be on the left or the right, burners can be raised in the back row for easier access, fans on ovens can have on/off switches. You can also mount a salamander broiler or cheese melter over the unit.
Key Tip: Ranges come in a good, better, best offering from most manufacturers. The better class is usually sufficient for most operations, but high volume or demonstration kitchens might need top of the line equipment for performance and appearance. A church or smaller, limited use operation might well be fine with the entry level ‘good’ category.