While a counter will do for preparing food at home, the demands of a commercial kitchen require equipment that’s more durable and versatile. Restaurant prep tables are designed to withstand frequent use and come with features that make food prep as efficient as possible.
What Is a Restaurant Prep Table?
If you’re new to the food service industry, you might wonder why you need a specialized table to prepare dishes. Restaurant prep tables have many benefits that make them a worthy investment. These include:
- Efficiency – A food prep table is designed to make the process of preparing salads, sandwiches and pizza as efficient as possible. Many restaurant prep tables have storage compartments where you can keep ingredients and supplies close at hand. This reduces the time spent going back and forth from the refrigerator, the pantry or the dish rack.
- Cleanliness – A kitchen prep table is usually made of stainless steel or at least has a stainless steel top. This metal is highly resistant to corrosion, which is important in an environment where spills frequently occur. Stainless steel prep tables are also hygienic, as the metal is nonporous and does not encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Additionally, they are easy to clean—you only need a mixture of vinegar and water or a mild detergent to remove dirt, crusted-on food particles and other food prep residue.
- Durability – Stainless steel is tough, making it suitable for commercial and industrial applications. It can withstand impact, extreme temperatures and scratches. Stainless steel commercial prep tables will not tarnish, even with constant exposure to moisture and will last for many years with minimal care.
How to Choose the Right Prep Table for Your Restaurant
Now that we’ve established that a prep table is essential to your restaurant business, the next step is to choose the right one for your needs. To make the process of picking one easier, we’ve listed down some tips and factors to consider
1. The Type of Prep Table
There are two main types of food prep tables: pizza and sandwich.
A pizza prep table has a large and deep cutting board to accommodate most pizza sizes. It has a raised pan rail, as well as a refrigerated area above the worktop to make getting toppings, condiments and other ingredients quick and easy.
Meanwhile, a sandwich prep table can be used to prepare burgers, salads and similar dishes as well. The cutting board is much smaller than that on a pizza prep table. A sandwich prep table typically has multiple cooled compartments on the worktop to keep ingredients fresh.
Both types of commercial prep tables generally have additional storage space underneath the worktop, used for keeping ingredients and supplies.
Pizza prep tables are more versatile; you can prepare sandwiches, burgers, salads and more on them, thanks to the large work area and multiple compartments. Meanwhile, a sandwich prep table is ideal for sandwiches and salads.
2. The Size of Your Kitchen
Prep tables come in various sizes, from small one-person units to long models that allow multiple kitchen staff to work at once. Before purchasing a prep table, ensure that the one you choose can fit comfortably in the prep area and will not block the flow of kitchen traffic.
3. The Kind of Food You’ll Be Serving
When choosing a table for food prep, consider your restaurant’s menu: Keep in mind that pizza, salads and sandwiches require many ingredients and are prepared differently. For instance, if you’re planning to use your prep table for large salads, you might want to purchase a megatop unit with several pans and compartments to keep produce, herbs, condiments, croutons and other ingredients within easy reach.
4. Doors or Drawers
Some prep tables come with doors, and others come with drawers. A unit with doors offers more storage space and is best for holding large quantities of ingredients, such as flour for pizza or lettuce for salads. On the other hand, drawers hold smaller amounts of ingredients but are ideal for those who want to easily change out the pans to replace the ones above the worktop when they’re empty.
If you want the best of both worlds, opt for a unit with a single- or double-door compartment and drawers.
5. Special Features and Accessories
Many prep tables come with unique features and optional add-ons for even more functionality and ease of use. Some examples are casters to make moving your prep table easier, a built-in sink for handwashing, under-shelves and over-shelves, as well as pot racks.
Shop Online for High-Quality Commercial Prep Tables
Iron Mountain Refrigeration & Equipment is the go-to provider of food prep tables, work tables, refrigerators and other essential food service equipment to restaurants, eateries, bars and other dining establishments in Pleasant Prairie, WI and surrounding areas. We carry three sizes of refrigerated stainless steel prep tables, all with insulated lids, cutting boards and casters.
Want to learn more about creating a grab and go menu for your restaurant? Read more here.