When selecting a range, club chefs make their choices based on two key factors: durability and flexibility. There are two basic types of ranges: “restaurant ranges” and “heavy-duty ranges.” Restaurant ranges are designed to be versatile, while heavy-duty ranges can be “batteried” together with more durable construction, to be better suited for higher-volume usage.
While heavy-duty ranges can run nearly double the price of a restaurant range, most clubs would be advised to opt for the additional cost when outfitting their a la carte and banquet kitchens. Heavy-duty ranges are not only more reliable, they generally have more features and options that can be selected, based on your club’s specific menu needs.
The most common range widths are 36”, 48”, and 60”, but models are available anywhere from 12” up to 72”. When determining the best size range for your operation, consider hood space and menu applications. Most codes require the hood to extend at least six inches beyond each piece of equipment under it. And if your club primarily serves breakfast and lunch, a griddle would likely be more important than extra burners.
Other things to consider are what you’ll put below the range (oven base, storage base or no base) as well as above it (a stainless-steel flue riser, a salamander broiler or a cheesemelter, for example).
- Another key decision is the cooktop configuration. There are no fewer than six basic cooktop types, including:
- Gas Open Burners (best for a variety of cooking styles and techniques, including boiling or frying with a pot or pan)
- Hot Top (a smooth surface that makes it easy to move large pots or pans around)
- Tubular Electric (heats up fast and is great for sautéing)
- French Top Electric (softer, more even heat that’s great for stockpots)
- Griddles (used in kitchens that serve breakfast, or where cooking on a griddle makes sense for a lot of menu items)
- Planchas (looks like a griddle, but can operated at a much higher temperature—about 800°. Food can be cooked directly on the surface or in pans heated by the surface).
All of these options, and more, can be mixed and matched until the configuration you choose is perfect for your operation and menus.
- Smaller in both length and width
- Built less ruggedly for lower-volume operations
- Best for snack bars, halfway houses, and other lower-volume operations
- Less expensive
- Designed to be banked together “in battery” with other ranges or pieces of equipment (The gas connection is usually on the front or side to facilitate this.)
- Designed for heavy, high-volume use, with thicker gauges of metal and more welded components
- Higher energy output per burner than a restaurant range
- Best for a la carte and banquet kitchens
- More expensive