A Guide to Restaurant Refrigeration Equipment

Setting up a Restaurant? A Guide to Refrigeration Equipment

Refrigeration equipment is critical to any restaurant, whether it’s a pizzeria or a fine dining establishment. It keeps food fresh for as long as possible, preventing unnecessary waste and reducing the risk of health code violations.

However, some new restaurant owners find it difficult to determine which types of refrigeration equipment they should purchase. If you’re setting up a restaurant, you probably have many questions. Should you get a sliding door cooler? Do you need two display freezers or more? And is the upright kind better than the island kind?

While your exact refrigeration needs may vary depending on the kind of food you’re preparing and the type of dining establishment you have, there are some basic pieces of equipment that all restaurants should have. If you’re setting up a restaurant, read on to learn the factors to consider when choosing refrigeration equipment and which pieces are necessary for your business operations.

What to Consider When Choosing Freezers and Refrigerators

  • Your Restaurant Concept – What type of restaurant you have is an important consideration when choosing restaurant refrigeration equipment. For instance, if your restaurant is a family-friendly casual diner that serves fries, nuggets, ice cream and other kid-friendly dishes, you might want to invest in a large commercial freezer or an ice cream freezer to keep all your frozen goods.
  • The Size of Your Kitchen – It pays to take time to measure how much space you have in your food preparation area. This ensures your staff have enough room to move around comfortably. If you have a small kitchen, consider space-saving options such as a sliding door cooler instead of the kind with doors that swing outwards and block the flow of traffic.
  • Food Delivery Schedule – If you receive daily deliveries of meat, fish, produce and other perishable food items, you might be able to get away with a smaller commercial refrigerator and freezer. However, if your distributor delivers only once a week or even less frequently, you’ll need to purchase higher-capacity units.

Other considerations include:

  • Your budget
  • Energy efficiency
  • Condenser placement
  • Storage space


Three Must-Have Pieces of Refrigeration Equipment for Your Restaurant

commercial refrigerator is ideal for storing plated dishes, sauces, garnishes, vegetables, fruit and other items that should not be frozen. Meanwhile, a commercial freezer is for storing raw meat, poultry, seafood, berries, juice concentrate and other supplies that can be frozen without affecting their quality and taste.

There are many types of commercial freezers and fridges on the market, and determining which is best for your food business depends on the factors mentioned in the section above. Below, are our top three must-have refrigeration items:

1. Reach-In Units

Upright models offer good storage capacity while saving space. Meanwhile, horizontal island and chest freezers take up more space but can hold a lot more. Many restaurants have more than one reach-in unit. Under-counter and countertop units are great for food prep, as they keep ingredients and supplies within easy reach.

Some reach-in models come with glass doors. If you have a glass door freezer, you can easily do a quick visual inventory of its contents by simply taking a peek through the glass without opening the unit.

2. Ice Cream Freezer

An ice cream freezer doesn’t just store ice cream; it’s also ideal for display or merchandising. For example, consider a dipping cabinet if you serve ice cream or gelato at your establishment. This is a type of ice cream freezer that has a glass top, allowing customers to see the ice cream flavors. Some models come with storage space underneath, as well.

3. Glass Door Displays 

Another option: glass top display freezers, which are best for casual dining establishments. You can use it to store and display popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream bars and other frozen goods. Having glass top display freezers inside your restaurant encourages impulse purchases of these treats. A sliding door cooler or bar cooler can be stocked with beverages and placed in the restaurant proper as well.


Your Source for Commercial Refrigeration Solutions

Based in Pleasant Prairie, WI, Iron Mountain Refrigeration & Equipment is a trusted supplier of refrigeration products to retail stores, restaurants, bars and homes. We take pride in our extensive selection of high-quality freezers and refrigerators. View our selection online, and feel free to reach out to us if you have questions or need help placing an order.


Want to learn about how you can reduce your restaurant food costs? Read more here.