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NRA Show 2016 Review

Posted by Travis Corley

Over the weekend, we took a drive to Chicago to attend the 2016 National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show at McCormick Center.  While the free food and massage chairs contributed to an amazing time at the show, let’s face it, the NRA Show is about the equipment.  It’s where restaurant operators, and in our case restaurant equipment resellers, go to find the latest gadgets, devices and equipment that will help restaurant’s profits go through the roof. In this post, I will go over some highlights of this year’s show.

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Ice, Ice, Baby (BCL Ice Machine Guide)

Posted by Travis Corley

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Commercial ice machines form a critical link in the chain of operation in a restaurant or commercial kitchen.  Ice machines can also be one of the largest expenditures in your budget, so choosing a unit that works for your particular needs and situation is vitally important.

And now that the warm summer months are here, the time of year you are most likely to buy a new ice machine are upon us.  This guide is intended to help you choose the ice machine that’s right for you.

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Commercial Convection Ovens

What is a convection oven?

A commercial convection oven is a free-standing unit that uses an internal wall-mounted fan to distribute hot air around the interior chamber. This method of heating reduces cooking times as it eliminates any cold air bubbles surrounding food items. And unlike conventional ovens, large batch recipes cook more evenly throughout, due to the efficient heat distribution.

This efficient piece of equipment has proven to be an indispensable appliance for many commercial kitchens including bakeries and high-volume catering operations. Models are available in half or full sizes with single or double deck designs.

commercial-refrig-4-guide BCL Restaurant Supply can help

Griddle Me This. The Secret to finding the Right Griddle Revealed

Let’s say you walk in to your local greasy spoon diner and order pancakes, eggs, bacon and a burger (it was a long night. Don’t judge!). Chances are pretty good that your food is being prepared on a commercial griddle. Commercial griddles are an invaluable piece of restaurant equipment. In addition to your breakfast bounty, they can cook chicken, sausage, breads and buns with ease by transferring heat from a metal plate directly into the food product. When choosing a griddle, there are two types of griddle plates you can choose from: thin and thick.

Thin PlatesThis plate griddle

Thin plates range from 3/8″ to 3/4″ thick. The benefits of thin plates are that they come up to temperature fast. There is quick heat transfer and faster heat recovery. Also, thin plates require less energy to achieve a set temperature. The disadvantages are few, but should be noted. For instance, thin plates may warp if preheated at high temperatures, so be careful when preheating. Also, they distribute heat less evenly. Thin plates are designed for light and medium-duty operations, such as breakfast-only diners.

Thick Plates

Thick plates range from 1″ to 1-1/2″ thick. Thick plates distribute heat more evenly and are less likely to warp. While thick plates require more energy to bring up to the desired temperature, they will retain heat longer. Thick plates are ideal for heavy-duty operations, such as 24-hour diners. They are also ideal for institutions and schools where frozen foods are more likely to be prepared and need more even heat distribution to cook properly.

Additional BenefitsLarge Thick Plate Griddle

Commercial griddles have individual heating controls, which allow you to cook a variety of foods at once. Side and back splashes contain grease splatter. Best of all, griddles create desirable effects on food, including that perfect golden-brown color and crispy crust that make diners salivate.

Ready to Buy?

Check out our online inventory here to find a huge variety of griddles and other quality pre-owned restaurant equipment, furnishings and supplies. Have a question? Call us at 618-274-4112 to speak with one of our helpful Pre-Owned Specialists. Happy griddling!

Fryers: Should You Scrimp or Splurge?

Let's talk fryers. With stainless, you’re probably not going to hurt your bottom line by having a less-than-beautiful finish on your sink. However, with fryers, saving money up front could very well mean losing money in the long run. When we talk fryers, we’re really not having a conversation about fryers at all, instead we need to talk about oil. Your fryer is going to last a long time; your oil is not. Therefore, when thinking about value, you want to think about oil since it’s going to be replaced far more frequently. The top destroyer of oil is heat - which is necessary to fry. Some have said lowering the temperature of oil just 10 degrees will double the life of your oil (Source: General Filtration).

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So what’s the difference between an $1,000 and a $5,000 fryer? Many things, but mostly the consistency of the heat put into your oil. Most of the time, economy fryers’ thermostat will have a 20-30 degree variation, most premium ones will be within 3 degrees. This means that when you set your oil at 350, an economy fryer may have it at 320-380, a premium will be 347-353 degrees. Remember how that 10 degree difference can double the life of your oil? You see where I’m going with this...

Let me show you a comparison between two fryer’s oil costs:, an economy Vulcan LG400 vs a premium 1VK45C. Here’s what I’m assuming:

  • Your oil costs $1/lb
  • With an economy fryer, you’re changing the oil twice a week.
  • With the higher end 1VK45C, you’ll be changing the oil once a week.
  • We’re only talking about heat and oil, I’m not factoring in any of the other money-saving features like gas savings or longer warranties on the 1VK45C

Given these assumptions, here’s a chart showing your costs for the fryer and Oil.

BCL Restaurant Supply Fryer Oil Cost Comparison
After the first 2 years, that oil savings is going right to your bottom line. You save about 80% up front going with an economy fryer, but it will cost you in the long run. So, especially with fryers, make sure you think through what you’re going to pay in the long run if you’re thinking about a piece of economy equipment.

As with any large purchase, it’s best not to assume anything. If you still have questions about your equipment purchase, please contact us! We want you to get the best equipment for your needs and are here to help make that happen.

BCL Restaurant Supply offers the largest inventory of pre-owned restaurant equipment. Our products are cheap in cost, but high in quality. Additionally, it all comes with a 30 guarantee.

Check out our whole inventory of new and used commercial fryers and other commerial kitchen equipment here, or contact us at 618.274.4112 or russ@bclrestaurantsuppy.com

Promoting your restaurant neighborhoodolivetickettwitter

Ideas for Promoting Your Business

Running a promotion for your restaurant is a great way to attract new customers and let loyal patrons know you appreciate their business. From face-to-face interaction to social media outreach, there are many ways to go about a promotion, and which method works best is sometimes just good old fashioned trial and error. Here you’ll find some restaurant promotion ideas that have proven to be effective.

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Neighbor Niceties

The other companies and businesses that surround your restaurant are prime prospects. Everyone needs to eat, and it’s important that your neighbors think of you as an option.

Create a promotion where you extend a discount to other businesses in your community. 20% is a good number that will get attention without sacrificing profit. A buy one get one entree offer also works well and is attractive to businesses where staff tends to place their lunch order as a group. Make this offer valid for thirty days. Position it as a “meet the neighbors month” where they can check out your space and explore the menu.

Whether it’s you or one of your employees, deliver this message in person so you have the opportunity to introduce your business and drop off some menus. Extending free delivery indefinitely is another way to form a bond with your neighbors. It’s inexpensive to provide because of the close proximity but shows that you value their business.

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Alcohol Attractions

One of the most classic restaurant promotion ideas is using alcohol to attract customers. How does it work? Here are a couple of our favorites.

Happy Hour

The easiest and most common alcohol promotion is offering happy hour. You could run it on select days (Every Tuesday or Thursday, for example) or daily during a set time (5pm-7pm weekdays is pretty standard). Half off drinks gets people’s attention and good food (especially at a discount) keeps them coming back. Create a happy hour menu to go with your drink promotion. It could include some of your popular but less expensive appetizers (like a bruschetta or dip and chips) or smaller portions of top selling dinner entrees.

Wine or Beer Tasting

Hosting a wine or beer tasting creates excitement and can generate new interest in your restaurant. The steps to organizing this kind of event are easy and the majority of the responsibility will fall on your alcohol distributor. Reach out about putting together an event and see what they can offer. Many companies will send a representative to lead the event and answer any questions your attendees will have. If you want to show off your menu as well as your space, consider serving bite size samples of your most popular dishes served as hors d’oeuvres. This will create conversation about your menu and entice people to come back for a full course.

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Social Savviness

Utilizing the multiple digital channels and social media networks is imperative to driving a successful business. Review and menu sites (like Yelp), Instagram, and Facebook are a few of the main ways millennials seek information about dining options. Not having a digital presence is a mistake, no matter how old school your marketing philosophy may be.

If you need some convincing, consider this — social media is FREE. Besides word of mouth, there aren’t many restaurant promotion ideas that don’t cost a thing to try. Sure, there are ways to pay for ads online but we’re talking about the basics. That includes creating accounts on the major social media sites, completing your profile and posting regularly.

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Enjoyable Entertainment

Serve dinner with a side of music or laughs. When a restaurant has an active calendar and weekly entertainment, people pay attention.

Live Music

Hire a local cover band to provide live music on weekend nights. Guests will come for dinner, but the enticement of drinks and dancing will extend their stay. On top of pleasing your current guests, you’ll also grab some new visitors from promotion the band will put out to fans. Even if the crowd comes in later, the extra money you’ll make on bar sales will cover the band’s fees and create some organic buzz around your location.

Theme Night

Turn a slow night into a theme night by starting a weekly trivia challenge, karaoke contest, or bingo game. If your night pulls a good crowd after just a few weeks, go with it and keep that night constant. If you want to get an idea of what theme your community has the most interest in, switch it up until you find a schedule that sticks. If events become a staple at your restaurant, be sure to include them on your company’s website and social media. It’s important to let people know which events are weekly happenings and what is just a one-time thing so there’s no confusion or disappointment.

Choosing the Right Pot & Dish Sink

Before buying a pot and dish sink, also known as a compartment sink, there are many steps to consider when finding the one that best fits your needs.  To get started, consider what the main use of the sink will be.  Will you need to wash large pots and pans, or just small utilities? Are you just washing vegetables? Determine what the primary use will be to get started in the buying process.

Step 1: Choose the Number of Sink Bowls

Consider what you will need to do with your pot and dish sink. Some of the ideal numbers of compartments for various tasks include:

Commercial Compartment Sinks

  • One: Utility or vegetable wash
  • Two: Food thaw or prep
  • Three: Rinse, wash and sanitize

Step 2: Choose the Gauge

For many pieces of equipment including pot and dish sinks, gauge determines the thickness of the stainless steel.  This means the lower the gauge number, the thicker the steel will be. So for instance, 14 gauge steel will be thicker than 20 gauge. Thicker material will add to the overall weight of the product, but provides more durability and will last longer.

  • 20 or 18 gauge: Thin material, good for soft water areas
  • 16 gauge: Medium grade material and stronger legs
  • 14 gauge: Thickest material, greatest durability and stands up to hard water

Step 3: Select the Bowl Size

When choosing your bowl size for your pot and dish sink, consider the largest object you will be washing. You will need to be able to submerge the object at least halfway each side.

  • Larger bowl sizes can really increase the efficiency of an operation
  • Many bowls are available in various depths, anywhere from 12” to 20”

Step 4: Choose the Drainboard Size

The drainboard is the landing or work area for dirty or clean dishes. This can be on the right, left or both sides. These are typically required to pass inspection. Drainboards are usually slightly pitched toward the bowls so excess water will flow back into the sink.

Step 5: Browse Our Inventory

We have a wide variety of pot and dish sinks here at BCL Restaurant Supply.  You can browse or online inventory here or come into our showroom located approximately 5 minutes East from Downtown Saint Louis in Sauget, IL.

For more information, please contact our sales manager Russ at 618.274.4112 or shoot him an email at russ@bclrestaurantsupply.com

Need Restaurant Equipment Today? Check out our Restaurant Auctions or Visit BCL Restaurant Supply’s Showroom!

Posted by Faith

One piece or an entire restaurant, we'll Buy it, Sell it or accept your Trade!

restaurant equipment auctions at bcl auction
BCL Auction hosts multiple Restaurant Equipment Auctions each month in St. Louis and Illinois.
We're always accepting Consignments, if you have items to Sell!

In addition, our sister Company, BCL Restaurant Supply is a 60,000 SF Showroom in East St. Louis that's full of Quality Pre-Owned Equipment and Furnishings, as well as a complete Line of New Equipment, if you prefer.

We're Open Weekdays 8:30-4:30 with an Online Store coming Soon!