Whether you are operating a small cafe or coffee shop, or a large family style restaurant, a microwave will be an essential type of restaurant equipment for reheating, defrosting and steaming foods. Not all commercial microwaves are alike, however. The microwave best suited for your needs will be dependent upon the volume of customers you serve on an average day and the type of foods you prepare. It's important to consider size/capacity, wattage and modern features that can save time in the kitchen. Here are 5 important factors to ponder when choosing a commercial restaurant microwave:
1. Wattage and Power
Basically, commercial microwaves are made for light duty, medium duty and heavy duty. The light duty commercial microwaves typically offer around 1,000 watts of power. While these typically have more cooking power than the average microwave for home use, the light duty commercial microwave is not suitable for high volume service. If you intend to use the microwave less than 50 times a day, this could be an economical choice, however.
Medium duty microwaves offer more watts of power than the light duty. They will get the job done quicker than the light duty model. Medium duty microwaves with this power are best suited for restaurant workers that microwave foods about 150 times per day.
Conversely, if you serve a high volume of customers and microwave foods a few hundred times a day or more, you'll need higher wattage for efficiency. Also, if you steam foods in your restaurant, you'll want to consider the heavy duty microwave. These will have the highest wattage available to deliver the fastest cooking times for a busy restaurant.
2. Microwave Size/Capacity
Commercial microwaves are available in smaller tabletop models as well as the bulkier style with added height and width. The smaller models may have less interior space, although they are more compact and easy to store on a counter. Consider your restaurant kitchen and counter space. Is it cluttered with other appliances and kitchen supplies, or have you designated a specific spot and microwave cart for this purpose? Take measurements if necessary and compare your allotted space with the microwave dimensions to get an idea of how well it will fit.
3. User-Friendly Controls and Ease in Cleaning
Is the commercial restaurant easy to operate for busy employees? Can they get the job done with a simple push of a button? If a restaurant microwave requires many steps or has confusing or awkward controls, valuable time may be lost. Look for a model that allows you to program various functions so your employees can complete a task in one simple step. Also, is the microwave relatively easy to clean?
4. Convenient and Innovative Features
While some modern features may not be essential, other features can save you time and hassle. For better efficiency, you might consider a push button model that allows for programming, rather than one with an electronic timed dial. Also, look for a heating time guide right on the exterior so your employees will have an easy reference. Some commercial restaurant-style microwaves feature a keypad with braille lettering for enhanced visibility. Other models feature anti-theft components and self-diagnostic options for troubleshooting. All of these can help tremendously in a restaurant kitchen.
5. Warranty Coverage
While all of the above mentioned points are important aspects to consider, don't neglect to inquire about warranty coverage before making your final decision. Replacing a faulty commercial microwave can be a great expense, so be sure you are covered. Most commercial microwaves come with a limited warranty for labor and parts, but you might want to read over the fine details before your purchase. Also, for extra protection you might want to consider purchasing an extended warranty. This will cover electrical and mechanical failures and labor after your manufacturer's warranty expires.