Every day, fresh bread, baked goods, dairy products, and fuel are shipped to every store in the Kwik Trip system by a company-owned fleet from its central
production and distribution facility.
“We make and brand as much of our product as possible,” said Jim Bressi, Director
of Research and Development at Kwik Trip headquarters in La Crosse, WI. “If we
can’t do it better ourselves, that’s when we look for a partner.”
When it was time to add fresh fried chicken to the hot food lineup, they found a
partner in Henny Penny.
Learn more about how Henny Penny is helping Kwik Trip with their new fried chicken program: Kwik Trip Case Study
We are thrilled to introduce Corporate Executive Chef Gregg Brickman, one of our newest Customer Experience team members. In his role as CEC, Chef Gregg will provide a range of culinary support and expertise to our partners, from product testing to program development and everything in between. He will also offer equipment training to our domestic and international distributors. As Chef Gregg puts it, he is an ‘unlimited resource’ for our partners to tap into and be considered an extension of their internal culinary team. Check out our Q&A session below and get to know Chef Gregg!
Tell us a little bit about your work background
Before joining Henny Penny, I was the Sr. Director of Culinary Innovation at HOA Brands (Hooters, Hoots Wings). There I was responsible for developing, testing, and launching all culinary products for 430 franchise and corporate locations worldwide, including developing the Hoots concepts from ideation to launch. Before HOA Brands, I worked with Wolfgang Puck, where I had the opportunity to work at 8 Academy Awards and cook for numerous celebrities and two former presidents. I am originally from Boston and have a degree in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University. I currently live in Atlanta with my wife, Becky, and our two daughters.
What led you to the Corporate Executive Chef position at Henny Penny?
I was lucky enough to work with Henny Penny during my time at HOA brands as we were developing some equipment for the new concept Hoots Wings. In doing so, I was fortunate enough to see what a great team they had and how far ahead they are of the other companies we were working with regarding quality and customer care. So when the opportunity to work for the company came along, I quickly jumped at the chance.
What is your favorite thing about your new role?
Being able to be involved with so many great established concepts and helping new concepts grow.
How has the transition been as you’ve started your new position during a pandemic?
I have been fortunate; many people who started new jobs during the pandemic have not been able to get settled in and learn what their role is. I have focused on understanding the equipment and what sets Henny Penny apart before being out in the field.
Do you have a signature item or a favorite style of cuisine?
Anything burnt. Kidding, – I am lucky that I feel most comfortable in the kitchen, so my favorite cuisine isn’t a cuisine at all, but it is cooking for my friends and family and enjoying the time we spend together.
What is your motto or philosophy?
“Deliver more than what you promise, own your mistakes, and always try to learn something new.”
When you’re not at work in the kitchen, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy spending time with my family, boxing, and golfing (but I’m not so good at the last two things).
Keep an eye out for more blogs featuring Chef Gregg in the near future.
In 2019, ghost kitchens (also referred to as dark kitchens and virtual kitchens) were simply an emerging trend to watch out for. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of these delivery-only kitchens in a big way. Just 15% of restaurant operators were using ghost kitchens before the pandemic, by May that number had risen to 51% (Technomic, 2020). The demand for off-premise dining options skyrocketed, creating an opportunity for operators to invest in ghost kitchens and even virtual brands.
Virtual brands emerge when restaurants reposition themselves by focusing on a different market within their existing kitchens. This has given many restaurants the opportunity to compete with industry leaders and capitalize on the profitability of fried chicken programs. For example, brands like Chili’s, Maggiano’s, Carrabba’s Italian Grill and Applebee’s have recently launched virtual fried chicken concepts.
As it turns out, consumers don’t actually need restaurants to have a physical location to be tempted to order from them. In fact, 63% of overall consumers said they would be somewhat to extremely likely to order from a restaurant that is available on a third-party delivery platform (DoorDash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, etc.) but has no physical location to visit (Technomic, 2020). That 63% increases to 73% when considering the 18 to 34-year-old segment alone. With numbers like that, it’s easy to understand why ghost kitchens have risen in popularity at such a fast pace.
The average ghost kitchen is only a few hundred square feet, meaning available space must be optimized and designed to operate with minimum labor. Partnerships with third-party delivery platforms drive traffic but shrink profit margins, forcing operators to look for cost-cutting solutions within these small kitchens. Luckily, the right equipment can help with each of these factors while also making life easier for both operators and their staff. Here are our top 4 best solutions for ghost kitchens:
Best Combi for Ghost Kitchens: Space$aver Team Combi
The Space$aver Team Combi offers maximum cooking flexibility with the highest efficiency in the most limited kitchen spaces. Grills, convection ovens, and steamers – three individually purchased pieces of equipment – can be replaced with a Space$aver Team Combi. An integrated hood saves dedicated ventilation space for frying and other cooking equipment. The control panel consists of an individual, touch screen control system for each oven. Chef’s Touch technology works like a smart phone – just tap the app for everything from cook-and-hold to cleaning and troubleshooting. Click here to learn more about the Space$aver Team.
Best Holding Cabinet for Ghost Kitchens: SmartHold Humidified Holding Cabinet
Our SmartHold Holding Cabinet is just over two feet wide and can be configured half-sized to fit under a countertop or stacked to manage cooking in large batches. Precise humidity control sets SmartHold apart by creating the ideal holding environment for any food and keeping it fresh for hours instead of minutes. This holding cabinet also has proofing capabilities, saving operators the expense and floorspace of a separate proofing cabinet. With SmartHold, ghost kitchens can also keep labor down by cooking and holding products before peak periods of high demand. We’ve got a couple of blog suggestions for anyone wanting more on SmartHold – learn more about optimal SmartHold settings for common menu items or discover more on how SmartHold brings value to any kitchen.
Best Open Fryer for Ghost Kitchens: Single-well Evolution Elite
Less is more with our single-well Evolution Elite, making it the ideal open fryer for any ghost kitchen. A smaller vat that requires 40% less oil means more ROI in the form of oil savings while maintaining the same throughput as a traditional 50 lb vat. Employees won’t need to spend too much time taking care of the Evolution Elite – top-off-level sensors monitor the oil level and add fresh oil as needed, and Smart Touch Filtration alerts automatically with just one button-push required to activate a 4-minute filter cycle. Models with two or more wells can filter one vat while cooking in another. Use a single-well fryer to prepare for the rush by pairing with SmartHold to cook in batches and hold for hours. Click here to learn more about the Evolution Elite open fryer.
Best Pressure Fryer for Ghost Kitchens: Velocity Pressure Fryer
Our Velocity Pressure Fryer was made to sustain the highest-volume bone-in chicken programs, making it easy for wing-concept ghost kitchens to sacrifice two feet of wall space for extreme productivity. Our Velocity series cooks 8-heads of chicken with 25% less oil than other high-volume fryers and provides up to four times longer oil life. Batch cooking is a breeze when you combine a Velocity with any of our holding cabinets – Henny Penny sheet pans can be secured by a lip on top of the fryer. Two half racks are then placed on each sheet pan and slid into the holding cabinet, allowing workers to skip re-racking and reducing product handling. While product is being transferred to hold, Velocity filters automatically between every single load. Learn more about the Velocity series here.
While these products are our top 4 recommendations for ghost kitchens based on industry insight, we realize every operation is unique. No matter the specific product, all of our equipment comes with the best customer service for demanding kitchens. At Henny Penny, we know life is better with reliable, cost-saving equipment and comprehensive support. We offer an online technical resource center along with a 24/7/365 technical support hotline that saves our partners over $1 million annually in service call avoidance alone. If you’d like to talk with a representative, we have an exclusive network of distributor partners ready to answer your questions and find the best solution for you – click here to access our distributor locator tool.
—With Peter Krause, Global Technical Training Manager
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
It’s clear Benjamin Franklin knew the importance of great training as well as how to make it stick. The sentiment of this quote holds up today, even when it comes to training equipment operators in a restaurant setting. Proper equipment training is critical to food quality and consistency, which ultimately results in customer satisfaction and loyalty. Plus, good training can also lead to greater staff efficiency and job satisfaction, both of which contribute to lower turnover.
Many managers make great trainers, but even the best can sometimes use a refresher course on training basics — just to ensure the most important operational practices are consistently being taught, observed and practiced. For this reason, we spoke with our own Pete Krause, global technical training manager
When it comes to equipment training, what’s your primary focus as a manufacturer? We want to be sure we’re offering the best basic equipment training that’s available. As a manufacturer, it’s up to us to help ensure every one of our purchasers have at least one or two people that understand the proper operation and maintenance of the equipment.
Are there any areas of equipment training that operators tend to not spend enough time on?
I think operators could spend more time on explaining why daily operations are so important to understand and practice consistently and correctly. For example, in the case of a fryer, it is impossible to overstate the importance of making sure things like the daily filter and clean out procedure are completed on a regular basis. The importance of basics — cleaning behind the equipment and wiping down the exterior of the unit — are sometimes not stressed enough during training. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to reinforce the simple, but critical points.
What are the best practices for testing to make sure workers have learned all the crucial elements that training has taught? Right after showing a team member how to perform a procedure, let that trainee get hands on and practice it until they get it right. For things that don’t involve a hands-on procedure — something like going over a series of steps to shut down the equipment at the end of the day — have the team member repeat the end-of-day shutdown procedure back to you to make sure they have it right. Also, memory fades over time, so it’s best to make sure the team member knows where to find a written copy of those procedures, general maintenance checklists and other operational documents.
What are some options to help speed up training so that more time can be focused on actual business needs? Intuitive equipment is a great option. For example, touchscreen controls on equipment can greatly speed up learning so that a new employee can quickly get to an operational skill level. With older models of equipment, it’s possible that team members will only have certain degrees of training. This could be a problem in a situation where a new assistant manager is closing the store but the experienced team member responsible for taking care of the end-of-day operations for the fry station is out sick. Without a touch screen, the new assistant manager may be in a world of trouble. Instead, equipment with simple and intuitive touch-screen controls can easily guide him or her through a tutorial for team members who have never performed tasks like cleaning and re-assembling the drain pan or learned how to perform a daily filter.
How can operators maintain a continued focus on training? Encourage and incentivize team members to cross train and learn every position in the kitchen. I worked in the back of the house at a restaurant that had a similar system. We had to memorize the menu items, learn how to operate the equipment, learn how to break the station down at the end of the night and pass a short test before we could get scheduled for shifts at a new station. We were incentivized both with recognition and compensation if we knew every kitchen station. The more team members who know all the equipment in the kitchen, the more knowledge that stays with the team as team members turn over.
If the team member learned the information properly, then some of the best ways to get proper training practices to stick is to have that team member train others. If he or she can explain it to someone else then it has a better chance of becoming universal knowledge.
Is there a specific person or position within the business that should be training new team members? Should training always come from a direct supervisor or should it come from the highest possible leadership? Effective training can come from all levels of an organization. The best trainers are often the ones who have done the job, know how to motivate others and have an upbeat personality.
Our maintenance checklist is meant to help pressure and open fryer operators get back on course for proper upkeep — not just for this spring but throughout the year. Following these important steps will not only go a long way in helping protect your investment, but also help ensure that your fryers are producing a consistent and quality product.
4 Head Pressure Fryers
Monthly – Lubricate spindle threads and ball seat
Every 90 Days – Reverse lid gasket
Every 90 Days – Check limit stop adjustment
Every 90 Days – Check and tighten element spreaders
Once a year – Remove and clean safety relief valve
8 Head Pressure Fryers
Daily – Clean deadweight assembly cap, weight and deadweight orifice
Monthly – Check dilution box, clean as needed
Monthly – Clean the nylatrons
Every 90 Days – Reverse lid gasket
Annually – Clean blower wheel (for gas units)
Annually – Lubricate lid rollers in back of fryer
Annually – Remove and clean safety relief valve
Annually – Inspect lift cables
Low Oil Volume or Open Fryers
Weekly – Clean behind fryer
Quarterly – Change filter pan O-rings
Quarterly – Vat deep clean
Semi-Annually – Clean blower motors (for gas units)
Henny Penny PXE-100 Pressure Fryer
Weekly – Clean the ATO reservoir
Weekly – Clean the casters wheels
Monthly – Clean the lid gasket
Monthly – Clean the nylatron filler strips
Monthly – Clean the deadweight assembly
Quarterly – Replace O-rings
Need a little more guidance to get your Henny Penny equipment back in tip-top shape? We offer free 24-hour technical support on all our products. Visit our Technical Support page to learn more.
As we settle into 2018, we wanted to take a minute to remind operators that a New Year’s resolution isn’t just for one’s personal life — resolutions for your business are just as important. Picking just one aspect of your business or operation to improve or be more intentional toward over this year could lead to more efficient habits in the years ahead.
But how do you pick one? Well, it’s never too late to reassess your frying program. We’ve found that businesses new to frying aren’t always aware of the operational efficiencies they can reach, and we’ve found that many businesses with decades old frying programs have gotten away from the some of the best practices. We address many of these issues, HERE, in our 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Frying Program.
From our team at Henny Penny, here are a few resolutions that you should consider for your operation in 2018.
Focus on energy conservation. Matt Greear, Senior Product Manager
Take the new year as an opportunity to become a better steward of energy. There’s savings to be found all around the kitchen, and energy use is no exception. When it comes to frying, utilizing your fryer’s Idle Mode when it’s not in use will help save on your energy bills and will help improve your oil life as well.
By utilizing this feature, your oil will drop to a more efficient temperature when not in use. The lower temperature will help maintain oil quality, as well as requiring less energy to operate, by heating the oil only when cooking and not when there are lulls in business. Get in the habit of using energy saving practices in 2018 and they’ll surely become routine.
Take advantage of the services available. Kevin Hilbert, Technical Support Manager
Henny Penny is really much more than just a fryer manufacturer. We offer a complete menu of support services, and we want our partners to take advantage of these programs as much as possible.
We offer several training opportunities, from online programs to our week-long training sessions at the Henny Penny headquarters. With training for you, your staff or your preferred maintenance professional, your operation will run more smoothly; your technical issues will be resolved more quickly, and, in turn, the customer experience will be better.
Need support right away? We offer a 24/7 technical support hotline, and all Henny Penny partners have access to our customer care team to ensure that their machines are always running properly.
For those struggling to incorporate or create new menu items, we offer cuisine consultation with our own corporate chef.
Your equipment purchase is more than just wires and metal. There’s an entire support system behind that logo. Don’t be afraid to use every bit of it this year.
Start it off right. Todd Hennigan, Director of Technical Services
Your new Henny Penny fryer has just arrived, and you’re excited to get it up and running. However, before you start firing off batches of chicken fingers and fries, be sure to follow through on a few initial steps to help set your equipment up for long-term success. Start by making sure the unit is operating as designed and that your staff is properly trained and understands how to use the equipment to its fullest potential. Not only will this ensure that the equipment is operating properly, but it will give you a chance to specialize your operators training so that it fits your program’s needs.
With proper startup and training practices customers can maximize the return on their investment through oil management, maintenance best practices and food productivity. If you’re starting the New Year with a new product, take the time to incorporate it into your operation correctly.
Looking for more operational tactics to implement over the course of 2018 and beyond? Be sure to subscribe to Our Take for ongoing insight on how you can improve back-of-house efficiencies.
Cartoons of the past always portrayed the future as the epitome of efficiency. The Jetsons, for example, were always the king of automation with their robot maids, conveyor belts and in home food vending machines. And though we’re all still waiting for flying cars that fold into briefcases, the main theme throughout all those distant, futuristic settings was the increase in efficiency. In today’s fast paced lifestyle and in just about any industry, efficiency is the main goal. The food industry is no exception.
Restaurants have a perpetually growing need to improve efficiency, but often times don’t know where to begin. Before looking at the labor force or the businesses operations, it might be better to start with a close look at your equipment and consider just how much that 10, 15 or 20 year old fryer, or the absence of a combi oven might be holding the restaurant back.
Current equipment may still produce great food, but its aging operational and technical features may be costing you in the long run, specifically in two areas; labor training and labor efficiency.
In years past, training your new teammate could mean tens of hours on the clock, learning how to use equipment by watching videos on DVD, studying manuals or by shadowing experienced employees. Most of the “real” education however, came from trial and error. This form of training unfortunately can add to your costs in the form of waste, customer frustration, cleaning mistakes and a general ding to productivity. Over the last several years, many manufacturers, including Henny Penny, have focused on simplifying operations and cleaning, resulting in easier and faster training. For Henny Penny specifically, great examples of these training and efficiency improvements can be seen in our Evolution Elite fryer and FlexFusion combi oven platforms.
For both of these products (one with a digital display, the other with color touchscreen), the focus has been placed on how people really use their equipment. Where do they hesitate, where do they get confused? Henny Penny works hard to learn and understand the operational requirements of its customers and the habits of their teammates. We understand how important it is too lead the user to the next step, eliminating guessing and improving confidence, which ultimately improves efficiency and production.
The FlexFusion combi oven’s touchscreen and memory contains the option of uploading your own videos to show exactly the steps of a recipe going into the oven. Additionally, it can self-diagnose or provide tips to help people understand this uber-flexible kitchen must-have. The Evolution Elite accomplishes the same training and usage improvements with set questions that lead the user to a successful completion of their task, whether that be filtering or initiating a cook cycle.
While we are still a few years away from equipment that operates without human interaction, it is essential that equipment manufacturers do what they can to help your business. That means freeing up your most valuable resource, your staff, to do outward/customer facing activities that help your business deliver your brand experience.
At the end of the day, it is critical for a restaurants staff to be trained and be comfortable with the equipment they are tasked to use to help the team continue to deliver the consistent, delicious food their loyal customers come to expect.
To learn more about Henny Penny’s labor, cost and time efficient equipment, be sure to visit our product page. Also, don’t be shy about checking out our YouTube page, HennyPennyTV, to see real customer’s takes on Henny Penny’s ability to put the focus on its customers’ needs.