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April 2012: More on Serving Lines

Serving lines are essential in school nutrition programs. But one model and size certainly does not fit all school sites. “Between the Lines,” published in the Tools of the Trade section of the April 2012 issue of School Nutrition, explores some of the offerings and features available from leading equipment manufacturers. Author Patrick White compiled brief snapshots of products offered by an additional 12 vendors, and these are featured below.

Whether selecting full serving lines, individual serving stations, portable options or components of systems, always be sure to check the wide range of options available to ensure you get the right fit at the best deal possible.

  • Randell, a division of Unified Brands, offers its RanServe Mobile Systems serving lines. According to company materials, the mobile segments “can be aligned in a straight line, U-shape or L-shape. Units snap together and disconnect quickly with an easy-to-use, concealed, spring-activated locking system.” Corian countertops and tray slides ensure durability, and operators can choose from a variety of sneeze guards, some with lighting built in. Scores of colors, logos and even custom full-color photographs can add visual appeal to Randell’s serving lines.
  • Along with performance, aesthetics are an important factor in how serving lines function. Vollrath’s Signature Server 2.0 serving line, for example, combines the flexibility of modular units with the aesthetics of a curving shape that removes the “institutional” look of serving lines. The units can be placed in a semi-circle shape or positioned to create an “S” shape. An array of hot and cold food wells and frost tops, along with counter materials and tray slides, can be specified with the unit.
  • Colorpoint, a division of Low Temp Industries, offers a diverse line of fiberglass mobile serving line equipment in an array of custom colors, as well as 15 “themes” specifically designed to appeal to children. These serving systems can be outfitted with tray slides and sneeze shields.
  • Galley’s cafeteria serving lines are designed to offer a permanent, built-in appearance while allowing for flexible placement of each component within the line. Options include not only hot and cold food bars but specialized units such as portable griddle stations, utility cereal bars, cashier stations and corner counters to avoid wasted space. Refrigerated units, which are lockable to keep food protected during non-service hours, also are available.
  • Piper Products offers two lines of serving systems. The company’s Elite line is modular, available in five lengths and, depending on the age of the customers, two heights (28 and 36 inches). Customers can choose from finishes ranging from standard vinyl to Formica, wood grain and stainless steel. The Reflection series serving system comes mounted on casters, and multiple units from this series can be interlocked. Both series have available cashier units that can be interlocked or positioned separately at the end of the serving lines.
  • Sefi Fabricators manufactures a wide range of modular serving system components in stainless steel. Options include both Hot Food Counter and Cold Food Counter units, which are available in various lengths to accommodate two to five food wells. The company also offers heated and refrigerated merchandisers, which include tray slides and a series of shelves to hold food at different levels. School nutrition operators can order sandwich counters, as well as modular serving line units built specifically for condiments and silverware.
  • Mod-U-Serve is another manufacturer of mobile serving counters. In addition to hot and cold food counters and milk counters, the company offers a mobile snack kiosk that provides a serving line option for a la carte items, as well as a unit designed specifically for serving soups and salads.
  • Carlisle Foodservice offers an alternate take on the traditional serving line: The company’s Maximizer food bar is designed as a stand-alone serving area. Food can be kept cold with ice for up to eight hours, or Carlisle’s Coldmaster food pans can be used. A double-sided acrylic sneeze guard can be fitted to the unit, as well. A somewhat similar option is Cambro’s CamKiosk cart, which lets school nutrition operations serve in a variety of indoor or outdoor locations. Units are available in four- or six-food pan sizes, and two insulated food storage cabinets are built into the cart to store food at safe temperatures.
  • For catered events and other situations when serving lines must be set up temporarily, one option to consider is the “Fill ‘N Chill” line of serving tables from Chillin Products. These tables resemble traditional fold-up buffet tables but feature recessed tops capable of holding food and ice.
  • C.R. Laurence Company manufactures sneeze guards in multiple finishes and styles and offers customization to match the look and size of existing serving line units.
  • And if serving must be done without the luxury of dedicated serving units (think standard buffet tables), CAL-MIL offers a range of portable, tabletop and suspended sneeze guards. The company provides various styles (single-facing, double-facing, large, small, simple, ornate) to match whatever setting and décor might be required, as well as several attachment options.