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Distributor Spotlight: TFI

In this exclusive Q&A series, operators gain behind-the-scenes insight into our unique distributor partnerships.

At Henny Penny, we go to market differently than most equipment manufacturers. Through our network of distributor experts, we’re able to provide hands-on-support before, during, and after purchase and installation. Our distributors are in the field everyday solving customer challenges and demonstrating that cooking precision and consistency lead to both quality food and operational savings.

For the past 60 years, TFI has been one of the largest Canadian suppliers for premium foodservice equipment and programs.

TFI became a Henny Penny distributor in 1982 and works with a variety of foodservice operators and outlets as a supplier of Taylor, Henny Penny, and Franke Specialty Coffee Equipment. With a clear focus on The Perfect Serving, TFI delivers value to every customer through premium and supportive foodservice solutions, so they may consistently provide a high-quality serving to their customers.

TFI has a total of two warehouses, one being in Toronto, Ontario and the other in Halifax, Novia Scotia.

Get to know TFI:

What is your corporate vision and strategy?

The Perfect Serving and our company core values apply to everything we do in sales, service, and customer service. Additionally, after-sales support is vital: we want to do a great job selling equipment and selling service. We support our customers from ideation, installation, service, and maintenance for the entire lifespan of the equipment. This model has allowed for countless repeat customers year over year. This partnership is the main differentiator against competitors because we are true partners for each of our customers; we support them from install to replacement. We take pride in the infrastructure we have created to ensure service excellence. It allows us to maintain our customer base and to increase new customers each year. We work as a team, we have monthly calls, and there is consistency across Canada. It is simple; we want the customers to be happy with their purchase and support.

How many employees does TFI have?

We have 125 employees; 17 in the sales department, 65 in service (includes technicians and field service management), and 10 in customer care. Additionally, we have employees that are spread out in finance, marketing, IT, supply chain, warehouse, and management.

What is unique about your territory?

Canada is very diverse, so we have many different types of cuisine, culture, and food offerings. Toronto is a major city in our area, where we have many national accounts headquartered. Another thing that is unique about our territory is the size. It is a vast landscape with many food service operators spread across many regions. We are also at the epicenter of Canadian commerce, with many businesses headquartered in Ontario. As a result, we are developing equipment programs for non-traditional customers.

What foodservice sector is your focus on?

In service, our focus is all of our customers along with the national chains (McDonald’s, Tim Horton’s, Wendy’s, KFC, Circle K, Oil & Gas Convenience). Over the next three years, our service business goal is to transition our service offering to an outcome-based, predictive model. This is a crucial focus for us as we know this will be the future of equipment service.

In sales, we focus on the supermarket sector (Loblaws, Sobeys, Metro) where we’ve had significant success with Henny Penny equipment. We also sell equipment to contract catering corporations (Compass Group, Aramark) and recently the retirement living sector. Another important initiative is to develop business within the food product supply industry. We know how well product is prepared in Henny Penny equipment, and we are leveraging product supply companies to market our equipment with their products. We are still focused on developing the mid-market chain (around 25 store chains). We went to Europe about five years ago, and we visited fellow Henny Penny distributors Jestic, Interfastfood and Red Bill. We saw the success with Evolution Elite in Europe, so we want to continue growing the low oil volume frying market in Canada.

What % of your business does Henny Penny represent?

Henny Penny represents 35% of our business; Taylor 45%, Franke 10% and Pizza Forno 10%. I must say that we’ve had great success with Henny Penny and that the partnership is excellent. The team appreciates the great support in sales and service, and the quality of the equipment is unbelievable. With McDonald’s as one of our key customers, through the collaboration of the 3 brands, we can now service 5 of their key pieces of equipment in Canada.

Who are your longest held customers?

National chains and, more specifically, the Supermarket chains. They’ve been with us since 1996. We have been pioneers in the HMR market in Canada.

What is your favorite HP product to sell and why?

The Combi ovens, because of the supermarkets. And, of course, the pressure fryer is built like a tank, the cooking is fantastic, and it is so reliable!

Why are your Combi sales so strong?

Our relationship with the supermarkets in Canada. We have known them since 1996; 23 years spent building relationships adds up! We also offer packages to some of our customers (Combi + pressure fryer), and we spend a tremendous amount of time training in the stores. Also, they are fantastic pieces of equipment. So, a great piece of equipment, excellent support, a strong relationship, and inventory!

What is your goal for 2021?

To continue growing in service and to avoid hiring third-party service companies in the most remote areas. The outcome-based, predictive model is transitioning the industry, and TFI intends to be at the forefront of this shift. We want to continue to match and anticipate the needs of our customers. One of the main issues with the competition is that they don’t stock. We do. We can deliver a pressure fryer the next day if a customer needs it. We always have 4 or 5 pressure fryers in stock, the same for Combi ovens. Investing in parts, in inventory, in infrastructure is key to have success. We want to continue in that direction while looking to increase HP sales to independent operators, grow our mid-market chains, and expand our equipment sales to more non-traditional customers within the foodservice industry.

 

To learn more about TFI, visit their website.

 

 

Distributor Spotlight: TFGroup

In this exclusive Q&A series, operators gain behind-the-scenes insight into our unique distributor partnerships.

At Henny Penny, we go to market differently than most equipment manufacturers. Through our network of distributor experts, we’re able to provide hands-on-support before, during, and after purchase and installation. Our distributors are in the field everyday solving customer challenges and demonstrating that cooking precision and consistency lead to both quality food and operational savings.

TFGroup was founded on January 26, 2009 after purchasing Taylor Fortune Distributors, a Taylor Distributor servicing southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

In 2010, TFGroup took over Fortune Equipment Company, which was a distributor for both Taylor and Henny Penny, covering 2/3rd of Tennessee, Northern Mississippi, and Eastern Arkansas. TFGroup then became the Henny Penny Distributor for Louisiana as well as the remaining area of Mississippi in 2014 and followed up with Arkansas in 2017.

Today, TFGroup has six offices across Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Get to know TFGroup:

What is your corporate vision and strategy?

Great Products .. Great Service .. Delivered’ is the tagline we live by and we are committed to providing world class equipment, exceptional sales, and state-of-the-art service performance. At TFGroup, we pride ourselves on partnering with the world’s best in the specialty foodservice equipment category.

How many people do you employ?

As of this year, we have a grand total of 64 employees across all our locations, with one service manager at each.

Many people were here from the start and others came with the growth. We hire not only skills but also attitudes.

What is unique about your territory?

We don’t have a large National Account base – we have a lot more retail-based customers. We do a great deal of business with convenience stores through our Henny Penny line-up of equipment.

What foodservice sector are you primarily focused on?

Service-wise we are more focused on National Chains; this is key to growing that department. In Henny Penny sales, I would say the focus is convenience stores followed by supermarkets.

What % of your business does Henny Penny represent?

45% is Henny Penny
50% is Taylor
5% is Franke

What is your favorite Henny Penny product to sell and why?

Heated Merchandisers (HMR’s). With the amount of convenience stores and retailers in our territory, the HMR truly separates us by being the best on the market. This allows for us to also provide fryers to those same customers and the price difference is no longer an issue because of the quality of our equipment which is proven by the history we have with the HMR.

Do you carry any other lines or categories aside from Henny Penny? 

We also carry Taylor and Franke Coffee Systems. We partner with the world’s best in specialty foodservice. We don’t want to sell too many lines to be able to stay focused. We don’t want to be average.

Who are your longest held customers and what equipment do they use?

One of our greatest success stories with Henny Penny is Dodge’s Southern Style which has 47 locations in the US, and they are a huge fan of our HMR’s. We’ve been partnered with them for 10+ years now, since 2011.

How does TFGroup coordinate service and training?

At TFGroup, we have four service managers as well as three dispatchers across the six office locations. The service techs are distributed amongst the territory. As for training, we have an in-house trainer and we send all of our folks to Henny Penny headquarters in Eaton, OH for training.

We do not partner with any 3rd party companies. We want to be in control of providing a remarkable experience to our customers which is not possible when you work with 3rd parties.

Service is very profitable, and it covers a lot of our costs. We want it to be done right.

We also offer incentive programs for our technicians. We measure everything we service equally whether it’s under warranty or not. We’ve got 34 trucks on the road, with parts, and that makes a huge difference: we can fix straight away. We have a 90% one-time fix rate.

What is your goal for the future? 

To keep growing our service, sales, and parts. It’s a constant challenge and there is always room for improvement. We also want to focus more on growing sales and developing people.

To learn more about TFGroup, visit their website.

 

How Kitchens Can Handle Peak Order Volume Without Adding Staff

Amid pandemic-related difficulties, new technology offers relief to labor- and time-strapped restaurants.

Though the restaurant industry has faced many major changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest shifts has been in guest traffic patterns. Not only have diners embraced off-premises channels at an unprecedented rate, but changing commutes among the move toward remote work and the rise of flexible work hours have caused peak order times and volumes to fluctuate. Yet while restaurants have attempted to continue offering the same speed of service and consistency and quality of product they are known for in the midst of these challenges, smaller crews and staffing shortages have exacerbated the issue.

“In the past, restaurants were more focused on the in-house dining experience than they were on delivery and quick service” says Gregg Brickman, corporate executive chef at Henny Penny, “but, unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the way consumers and restaurants must operate has changed.”

Before the pandemic, Brickman says, restaurants knew when they could prepare for a rush and plan to staff five cooks to execute the orders. However, now, surviving a peak service time often involves more planning ahead. Rather than cooking to order, he says restaurants can more aggressively set pars and prep orders in advance than they might have prior to COVID-19, and thanks to advanced holding cabinet technology, those meals can still be served as fresh as if they were going straight from fryer to plate.

“Henny Penny holding cabinets allow restaurants to serve consistent, quality items while also easing pressure on the kitchen,” Brickman says. “And, when you don’t have as many staff members in the kitchen due to staffing levels or pandemic restrictions, the cabinets can actually relieve as much pressure as adding another employee or sous chef.”

While he notes older style holding cabinets might have previously dried out or hardened food, Brickman says the secret to holding food successfully, is Henny Penny’s newer technology, which offers precise temperature and moisture controls that extend the life of food without any discernible difference in quality.

Additionally, the Henny Penny team will work with each brand to test the appropriate temperature and humidity levels for their products in the Henny Penny test kitchen or inside the restaurant’s facilities. Then, Brickman and the Henny Penny team precisely program each cabinet’s settings to ensure quick-service brands will serve high-quality meals to customers regardless of the hold time.

“A lot of people we’ve worked with from major brands have been shocked to see the results that can be achieved with our holding cabinets,” Brickman says. “They don’t expect the product to be as consistent and flavorful as it is even after batch cooking and holding, but the quality is so good, they know customers will still think their orders are being served right out of the fryer.”

Best of all, Henny Penny offers a wide range of cooking and holding equipment, so restaurants can find the best equipment for their staffing, layout, and cooking needs, and the company prides itself on helping each brand tailor its approach to these challenging volume situations.

“Not every piece of equipment is built for every customer,” Brickman says. “When we work with a new customer or concept, my culinary team and food scientists help analyze their situation and narrow down the specs so each restaurant can get the most out of each warming cabinet, fryer, or combi oven. Then we not only customize that equipment for the brand or store, but we also follow up over time to make sure it’s still working for them. We want to build long-term relationships so we can help each restaurant achieve the results they are looking for no matter what challenges they face.”

To learn how holding cabinets can help your restaurant, visit the click here.

 

This article was originally featured in QSR Magazine.

 

 

Chicken Thighs: The new wings?

After roughly twelve months of dealing with pandemic shutdowns, reopenings, vaccines and variants, consumers are in a spending mood. That’s good news for the economy overall, but when pent-up demand meets still-recovering supply, availability goes down and prices go up. It’s happening with lumber. It’s happening with chlorine. It’s even happening with ketchup packets. And now everyone is freaking out over the chicken shortage.

Actually, industry media have been warning us about price increases and low supplies since at least February. Following brief shortages and price spikes last spring, chicken production evened out and remained steady through year’s end. Processing plants, however, are still dealing with a labor shortage and worker protection issues. Meanwhile, the Chicken Sandwich Wars that began in late 2019 raged on through last year and into this one. People can’t seem to get enough of a good chicken breast or tenders sandwich. But what they really can’t get enough of is wings.

The saying goes that there are two seasons for chicken wings, Super Bowl and the rest of the year. Weirdly, this year’s Big Game viewership was down 8 percent from the year before but, according to the National Chicken Council, wing consumption was up 2 percent. In one weekend, we ate a record 1.42 billion chicken wings!

No wonder there’s a chicken shortage. If you are a chicken restaurant operator battling it out with your supplier or about to launch a virtual chicken concept, stop for a moment and consider this: Nowhere does any of this news coverage mention a shortage of chicken thighs.

For every pair of chicken wings, there is a pair of chicken thighs selling for roughly half the price per pound and more than twice the meat per serving. That alone should be enough to pique an operator’s interest these days. The problem is, chicken thighs don’t get the same respect from the American palate that they do elsewhere. That’s mostly due to a lack of marketing. Taste tests have consistently shown that three out of four consumers prefer the flavor of thighs to breasts or wings. Thigh meat is moist and tender with enough fat from the bird itself for flavor so you can taste the chicken, not just what it’s breaded, marinated or cooked in.

As part of a “whole-bird strategy,” thighs are proving to be an ally for Wingstop to keep up with demand and increase contract-based purchases. The Dallas-based chain with more than 1,500 units has been testing a bone-in thigh product to add to their regular lineup. Nathan’s Famous plans to roll out two new chicken sandwiches, both featuring boneless, skinless thighs. The more intense flavor of the thigh holds up beautifully in both the Nashville Hot fried version and the marinated grilled sandwich, according to a senior executive with the chain, calling them some of the most flavorful options in the industry.

If you’re a smaller operator or a food truck looking to stay in the chicken game while maintaining high-margin profitability, give thighs a try. Like wings, thighs can be served bone-in or boneless, breaded and deep-fried, baked or grilled. I like them twice-fried with Korean style breading and a sweet, spicy gochujang sauce. If you’re in the northeast, you might try dredging them in “clam fry” breading. In the south, pressure fried with hot honey sauce and a fried green tomato. One of my favorite ways to do chicken thighs is to French them into lollipops. Like drumsticks, thighs hold up well to this technique. The result is tender meat slightly compressed and massed towards one end of the bone, with the other exposed for the “handle.” They make terrific finger food. And compared to half a dozen wings, one or two thighs makes for a lot less mess.

Just remember, consumers are not conditioned to appreciate thighs the way they have been with wings, tenders and breasts. Your best bet is to come up with a signature item, give it a niche, do trial promotions, and start a whisper campaign. Once you get a few people eating and enjoying chicken thighs, the good word will spread!

For more information on frying and understanding your options, click here. Or, if you’re already frying and want to analyze an existing program, check out our free download: The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Frying Program (and how to fix them).

 

Distributor Spotlight: Solutions Food Equipment (SFE)

In this exclusive Q&A series, operators gain behind-the-scenes insight into our unique distributor partnerships.

At Henny Penny, we go to market differently than most equipment manufacturers. Through our network of distributor experts, we’re able to provide hands-on-support before, during, and after purchase and installation. Our distributors are in the field everyday solving customer challenges and demonstrating that cooking precision and consistency lead to both quality food and operational savings.

Solutions Food Equipment (SFE) is our distributor partner in France, where ghost kitchens skyrocketed in popularity as a result of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, the delivery market was 5% of the commercial restaurant industry and growing by a rate of 20% per year. In France, that growth is expected to triple within the next few years. Today, over 25,000 restaurants are available on the country’s Uber Eats platform, with 1,500 of those restaurants operating exclusively as virtual brands in ghost kitchens.

Here’s what Gregoire Demouy de Kergrist of SFE had to say about this evolving trend:

How would you describe the ghost kitchen market in France?

Last year, lockdowns accelerated ghost kitchen development with the introduction of new players and investors. We have seen the number of concepts just exploding and regularly we are discovering new ones.

We see a lot of marketing from Not so Dark and Kharis Capital (owner of Burger King and Quick for Belgium, O’Tacos for Europe) and investors like Smart Kitchen. We also see delivery business related players like Taster, founded by a former executive of Deliveroo and already present in France, the UK and Spain. Direct delivery brands such as Deliveroo, Dark Kitchen (Panorama Group), Vador, Kitchen Lab and Cooklane are continually developing new concepts.

These players all plan multiple openings within the next 12 months (between 10 and 50 kitchens each)!

Aside from those big players, are small businesses jumping on the ghost kitchen trend as well?

Besides the big names, we can see other people riding the same wave, such as traditional building owners that are creating laboratories with 5 to 10 small kitchens to share. They rent these ghost kitchens out to various brands and offer a wide range of business services to the operators (communication, financial, HR, marketing).

We also see traditional restaurant chains trying to get in on the trend by creating a dedicated virtual brand for delivery, like Buffalo Grill or Courtepaille (both Henny Penny customers!). The success they’ve seen with this approach has made them rethink the organization of their kitchens to keep up with demand when they reopen their restaurants to the public.

We even perceive positive signs from the hotel industry. For example, the huge chain Accor, frustrated to see most customers ordering food via Uber Eats or Deliveroo and eating in their room, are also considering food concepts specifically for delivery in order to reclaim much of their business.

How did SFE help customers like Buffalo Grill and Courtepaille introduce virtual concepts?

We worked with customers like Buffalo Grill and Courtepaille to create a dedicated corner for a delivery-only virtual burger brand.

As a specialist of equipment for QSR restaurants, SFE is in a particularly good position to help those concepts set up or upgrade their kitchen processes. Most of the existing kitchens were launched with poor quality equipment and due to the sales increase experienced with the pandemic, they have faced the limitations with that equipment, especially with fryers. We transitioned the concepts from simple counter-top units which cost less than 1,000 € to reliable and high-production Henny Penny fryers.

That was a big step, but we brought them into our demo kitchen, explained all the advantages like savings on time and oil consumption and safety for their teams. There, they had the opportunity to cook their own products in our fryers and experience this huge step they could take in terms of food quality and taste.

What opportunities does the ghost kitchen market present for SFE?

SFE has already partnered with the major dark kitchen concepts in France (Smart Kitchen, Taster, Not so Dark, Kitchen Lab), and we follow emerging concepts closely to get involved in the first openings.  Sometimes we can even work on the development of new concepts, because once our equipment is in, we know it will be in all the next kitchens. Even when restaurants reopen, we don’t foresee a significant reduction in delivery sales because French customers have now become accustomed to ordering food easily at home and will continue to do it even after returning inside of restaurants.

What makes SFE the ideal partner for ghost kitchen operators?

Our main competitive advantage is the combination of our passionate and professional people and our willingness to deliver the best customer experience with the aim to build strong partnerships.

SFE has the chance to have a full range of equipment focused on this kind of activity. Aside from our Henny Penny line, we supply broilers, speed ovens, pizza ovens, griddles and refrigeration which allows us to offer a complete and premium solution for our customers.

The quick development of ghost kitchens had a big impact for us, helping SFE to end 2020 with a 25% increase compared to 2019. And by the end of 2020, Henny Penny became our top-selling brand.

Did you learn anything else from 2020?

This is a growing market, where main players with financial capabilities plan to open a lot of ghost kitchens and gain market share quickly. To stay in the game, we need to be proactive in contacting these players first – it is crucial!

The pace of development should be fast considering the investment for a ghost kitchen is 6 to 10 times less than a “real” restaurant on average.

These operators are moving quickly so they need a lot of reactivity and solutions including product availability. Unfortunately, sometimes we must deal with long lead times from overseas, so having a rolling stock is highly recommended.

 

To learn more about SFE, visit their website.

 

Distributor Spotlight: J.L. Lennard

In this exclusive Q&A series, operators gain behind-the-scenes insight into our unique distributor partnerships.

At Henny Penny, we go to market differently than most equipment manufacturers. Through our network of distributor experts, we’re able to provide hands-on-support before, during, and after purchase and installation. Our distributors are in the field everyday solving customer challenges and demonstrating that cooking precision and consistency lead to both quality food and operational savings.

Sydney Office

Operators around the world count on Henny Penny distributors. In Australia and New Zealand, they count on J.L. Lennard, founded in 1879 and one of Australia’s oldest family-owned businesses!

J.L. Lennard imports and distributes a range of products from world-renowned manufacturers in Europe, America and Japan. The company became a Henny Penny distributor in 1994 and has six total locations between Australia and New Zealand.

Get to know J.L Lennard:

What is your corporate vision and strategy?

With dedicated national account and local sales teams in each major city across Australia and New Zealand, we take pride in offering our customers a total solution for all their capital equipment requirements.

From the initial face-to-face consultation through the development and implementation of the right equipment, we also provide training and responsive after-sales service and preventative maintenance programs.

To keep equipment operating at its best, we have service technicians in each major city, along with locally stocked spare parts.

Given that our company has been in operation for over 140 years, it’s fair to say that everything we do is based on building successful long-term partnerships, and we highly value our supplier, employee, and customer relationships. This approach has been central to our success and we look forward to a bright future based on always going the extra mile to ensure we exceed expectations.

How many people do you employ?

We have a team of 100 people in Australia and 20 in New Zealand.

Approximately 25% of our team is in Sales, 50% in Service and Spare Parts and 25% in Management, Administration and Purchasing roles.

What is unique about your territory?

The physical size of Australia makes it challenging to supply and service our customers.

Melbourne Office

If you lay Australia over America on a map, you will see that we have a huge country with a very low-density population (apart from Sydney and Melbourne). With five branches in Australia and one in New Zealand, we’re able to provide superior service across the territory.

What foodservice sector are you primarily focused on?

We sell to all sectors but QSR, Small Chains, Chicken, Pizza, Treat, Supermarkets and Burger Shops are our main focus.

What is your favorite Henny Penny product to sell and why?

Evolution Elite Open Fryers as they are a perfect fit for the QSR environment. Between oil savings, quality improvements and staff safety, the Evolution Elite just makes sense.

Who are your key customers and what equipment do they use?

Key accounts include Hungry Jacks, Red Rooster, Nene Chicken, McDonald’s, KFC, GYG Mexican, and Nando’s, just to name a few. Since most of these are in the QSR segment, we see a lot of kitchens with Evolution Elite fryers!

Long-term partners of ours include McDonald’s, KFC and Hungry Jacks.

What % of your business does Henny Penny represent?

Normally Henny Penny represents 20-30% of our business, although given we are rolling out close to 1,000 fryers and holding cabinets for Red Rooster, it’s going to be higher than that this year.

Could you share what kind of onboarding process you’ve put in place to support Red Rooster?

We have a dedicated person responsible for roll out administration for Red Rooster. As there are 350 total stores, 2 suppliers, and over 900 pieces of equipment, it is critical to have one person that can change and adapt orders to meet ever-changing customer needs. We have a delivery and training structure that simply needs to be communicated to our team for each install, and from there the plan just falls into place.

How do you manage to earn so many new customers? What’s your secret weapon?

Understanding the customers’ needs and expectations is critical; sometimes we understand what they need more than they do. We try to solve customers’ problems rather than trying to sell them something. Henny Penny is simply the best equipment in certain applications, e.g. fried chicken and if you want the best fried chicken then you will need the best equipment to cook and hold it. When we have the best solution for the customers’ need then the sales process is not at all difficult.Brisbane Office

The secret weapon is not allowing the customer to make a bad decision. To be the best, you need the best equipment in the market, and we don’t let our customers settle for second best. If you set yourself up for failure, you’re likely to succeed at only one thing and that is failure. Set yourself up to succeed from the beginning, plan to be the best, and buy the equipment that will get you there.

 

To learn more about J.L Lennard, visit their website.

 

 

Three Advantages of Adding a Combi Oven to Your C-Store: Profits, Flexibility, and Throughput

The pandemic changed a lot about the way people work and live. It’s had a huge impact on the entire foodservice industry.

Third-party delivery services took off as did the demand for grab-and-go meals. Nearly 60% of c-stores increased foodservice sales in 2020, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Retail Member Plus Survey. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge.

The challenge is presented by what consumers are demanding. One recent study showed that 77% of consumers want to do more to stay healthy when it comes to food choices and they are also open to experimenting with new options. The demand for higher-quality products with diverse offerings and healthier alternatives is here to stay.

Fresh food prep matters and it makes no difference whether it’s a meal a consumer is preparing at home or grabbing on the way home during their commute. The orange-vesters  — construction, contractors, landscapers, and manual labor — don’t have time to do a sit-down meal, but still want a quality meal and they want it fast.

Convenience stores that fail to upgrade their food selection with fresh ingredients and higher-quality food will likely miss out on this emerging consumer trend.

So, how do you take advantage of this opportunity?  The combi oven.

Combi Ovens provide high-quality meals that consumers are demanding.

What Is a Combi Oven?

Combi ovens can cook high volumes of a wide range of menu items and do it quickly using convection heat, steam, or a combination of the two. This allows foods to be prepared using dry heat or moist heat to produce hot, high-quality meals rapidly — perfect for consumers that want a great tasting meal but don’t want to wait.

Rather than microwaving or reheating already cooked items, combi ovens create high-quality meals using fresh ingredients without taking up the space of a commercial oven.

3 Advantages of Adding a Combi to Your C-Store

Combi ovens let you tap into what consumers want and expand your product offerings with a minimal investment. We find that most operations see a surprisingly fast return on investment. As a proven profit center, Henny Penny combi ovens can provide an ROI in as little as two months.

With a combi oven, you get improved profitability, greater flexibility in menu offerings, and higher throughput.

Profitability

For c-stores, much of the prepared foods have been traditionally low margin items. A combi oven allows you to sell higher-margin food items and increase profitability.

You can sell restaurant-quality food items with intuitive interfaces. One versatile piece of equipment does it all and you do not require expert culinary staff or additional labor to support c-store operations.

Because meals are created from fresh ingredients, there is significantly less waste and spoilage. Since waste and spoilage can range from 8-25% even a small decrease can make a big difference.

Henny Penny combi ovens can generate significant profits. Download our free guide to learn how combi ovens are proven profit centers.

Flexibility

One combi oven can provide endless menu possibilities.

Dinner-time offerings might include:

  • Roasted/Rotisserie style chicken meals
  • Simple sides – mac and cheese, roasted veggies, starches

For on-the-go lunch daypart customers, you might offer:

  • Pulled chicken burritos
  • Pulled chicken salad options
  • Chicken Pita’s
  • BBQ Chicken Sliders
  • Mac and cheese bowls
  • Stuffed potato bowls

Combi ovens also give you a way to reduce waste further by being able to utilize leftover chicken by repackaging it into lunchtime offerings.

Throughput

Combi ovens can easily support curbside delivery, pump-side delivery, and even C-Store drive-throughs. You can even establish a virtual brand and operate as a ghost kitchen.

A combi oven allows c-stores to offer enhanced menu options and utilize current staff to execute high-volume sales.

Partnering with a third-party delivery platform can also provide an additional revenue stream. Customers for delivery services such as GrubHub or UberEats aren’t typically looking for specific restaurants but for fast, affordable, and quality meals. This allows you to deliver hot foods as well as drinks, groceries, or other convenience items.

Learn How Combi Ovens Generate Profits

The food service industry is constantly advancing. At Henny Penny, we strive to continually develop innovative solutions that solve problems for our customers.

To learn more about combi ovens and how they can help generate profits for your c-store, download our whitepaper: Expanding and growing your food service program. This free guide will show you how you can potentially deliver more than $1.4 million of incremental gross profit over the life of the equipment and detail the five things you’ll need to consider:

  • Space constraints
  • Connectivity
  • Operation simplicity and food consistency
  • Production capabilities
  • Cleaning and maintenance

Learn more about Henny Penny’s FlexFusion combi ovens or contact one of our team members today.

What makes a Combi?

In recent years there has been a legitimate debate over the virtues of boiler and boilerless combis. Each basic design has its advantages and flaws. Often, the quality of the combi and its results depend on how its manufacturer has balanced one against the other.

 

Most people already know that combis or combi-steamers are ovens that have the ability to cook with dry heat, moist heat or a combination of the two. Cooking with at least some moisture added to heated air is nothing new. Convection ovens with steam injection features have been around for a long time. What makes an oven a combi is the ability to generate enough steam in the cabinet to cook at 212°F (100°C.)

 

Boiler

The basic advantage of boiler combis is performance. A boiler combi can give the operator a full cabinet of steam already at temperature very quickly. In the case of steam-only “mode”, dry heat elements are not needed at all. This energy-saving aspect is balanced against the energy required to preheat and operate the boiler at all times, whether steam is required or not. The first combi-steamers created steam through separate boilers and then circulated it throughout the oven cabinet with a fan. By introducing dry convection heat, the oven temperature could be raised beyond steaming-only temperature and thus cook with super-heated steam. This provided hot, humid conditions that cooked food quickly without drying it out. “Wet” foods were started out with dry heat only, using moisture from the food to achieve a hot humid environment. Steam from the boiler could be introduced later in the cycle if needed, to maintain these conditions. Compared to boilerless combis, maintenance and replacement costs associated with the boiler itself increase the cost of ownership and operation. Water usage in boiler combis is also very high.

 

Boilerless

While many improvements to combi-ovens were made over the years, the fundamental design of a water fed reservoir with separately heated boiler is still used today in many units. However, another type of oven was developed that claimed combi status without the use of a boiler. These “boilerless” or steam injection combis were based on the idea that cold water could simply be run into the unit and sprayed on the oven’s heating elements to produce steam as needed. No need for the reservoir and the additional heating element required to generate steam separately. This design made it more difficult to cook with steam only, especially for long periods of time. But without the boiler, these combis occupy a smaller footprint, use less water and are less expensive to buy and maintain.

 

DynaSteam2­ The best of both

Our patented Dynasteam2 effectively bridges the gap between boiler and conventional boilerless designs. This unit has no boiler and so avoids the maintenance and repair issues. Yet the design concept produces as much steam as needed almost instantly while preserving the efficiencies of both heating element and heat exchanger. How? By spraying water onto a specially designed rim that rotates with the fan. This rim is positioned toward the outer edge of the fan, taking advantage of high “circumferential” speeds to “mist” water evenly into the heated cooking chamber. Water droplets below a certain size are instantly turned to steam.

 

Humidity control

Another resulting difference among combi-steamers has to do with the ability of the operator to control the amount of moisture in the cooking cabinet at any given time. With the technology described above, steam can be added at any time and in varying amounts. But how does anyone know how much is enough or how much is too much? Precise control of humidity in the cooking environment depends on two additional functions: the ability to release or vent excess steam when required, and the ability to measure the relative humidity in real time. A few manufacturers have developed the digital control technology necessary for an operator to select a humidity level and have the machine measure conditions in the cabinet and add or remove moisture automatically as needed. Combis with true humidity control have increased flexibility and productivity by an order of magnitude. Delicate baking, low-temperature steaming, overnight roasting, high temperature grilling, and perfect retherming are just a few examples of what can be done in a single oven with this kind of control over the cooking process.

 

Which Combi is for You?

 It can be challenging to determine which combi is ideal for your kitchen, especially when buying one for the first time. Our Navigator Tool helps narrow down all the options by asking questions specific to your operation. Click here to try it out and identify the solution that will best fit your unique needs!

How Henny Penny SmartHold Brings Value to the Kitchen

Henny Penny SmartHold Heated Holding Cabinets feature precise automatic humidity control. This gives operators the ability to hold nearly any hot food item longer and with significantly improved food value than any other heated holding cabinet. A patented system lets the user:

  • Hold at any humidity level between 10% and 90% relative humidity, and at any temperature from 80°F (27-°C) to 210°F (99°C).
  • Select or adjust humidity level in one percent increments.
  • Generate and maintain the precise desired level throughout the holding cycle automatically.
  • Proof and hold in the same piece of equipment (yes, you read that right).

This level of control is achieved by the capability to also remove humidity automatically through a sensor controlled venting system, a feature quite rare among holding cabinets. Sensor feedback control also does a much better job than conventional thermostats of maintaining precise temperatures throughout the cabinet. One major advantage that emerges is the ability to hold at temperatures under 150°F (65°C). This is the “proofing mode” that allows the SmartHold cabinets to proof bread and other bakery items.

Why Upgrade to SmartHold?

The most basic function of insulated heated holding cabinets is keeping cooked foods at specific internal temperatures prior to serving. At the end of the day, holding equipment should be doing much more than simply maintaining constant heat. Without controlled humidity, a heated environment will quickly cause fresh product to become dry and unappetizing. Food loses value when it must be thrown away instead of served. Humidity in basic thermostat-controlled holding cabinets comes from the heated product itself. However, maintaining food value for longer periods requires some semblance of control over the amount of humidity in the cabinet at any given time.

Relative humidity inside a holding cabinet can vary a great deal, depending on the type and quantity of food being held, how it was cooked, how long it has been held and how often new products are added into the cabinet and how often the doors are opened and closed. Most “dry” heated holding cabinets have a manual slide vent that allows moist air to escape when humidity builds to an undesired level. “Humidified” models also have water pans—particularly those that use fans to circulate heat—offering a passive means of adding humidity though evaporation. This combination of evaporation, moving air and external venting is intended to maintain some degree of humidity control in the holding environment.

For limited menu applications or operations that simply don’t require holding times much beyond an hour, this level of technology is all that’s needed. Obtaining the benefits of longer holding times requires the ability to measure and maintain the relative humidity inside the holding environment in a much more precise way.

Advances in holding technology incorporate humidity control sensors to monitor conditions in the cabinet. “Smart” cabinets, like our SmartHold series take control a step further by using the measurement of relative humidity to control the introduction or venting of moisture in order to maintain a desired level. (Curious about the ideal relative humidity levels for different menu items? Click here to read our blog on that.)

The SmartHold Payoff

The overwhelming advantage to precise humidity control in a holding cabinet is that foods no longer have to dry out, shrink, or turn soggy over a period of time in exchange for staying hot. Operators can create the perfect holding environment for any type of food simply by selecting the right temperature and humidity level.

Such technology isn’t particularly cheap, but well-worth the initial investment for demanding kitchens. It’s important to gauge the holding needs of your operation honestly to see if such control is worth more than it costs. On the other hand, it’s hard to overestimate the benefits this quantum leap in control has to offer over conventional hot boxes.

Here’s how SmartHold brings value and shows ROI in the form of savings:

SmartHold has the potential to hold many popular items almost indefinitely. Holding times measured in hours, rather than minutes. This extra time comes cheap in terms of labor—the programmable process is completely automated. Countdown timers also help employees keep track of holding times for individual trays of food.

The precise control of temperature and humidity means you can hold just about any item for a long time. This is a major benefit, because conventional wisdom says many items simply can’t be held for long, if at all. The gains in productivity can accrue across your entire menu.

A smart holding cabinet can provide holding and proofing capabilities with one piece of equipment. You’ll save on the expense and floor space of a separate proofing cabinet. Increased utilization, alone, can pay for the unit.

A cook/hold component in foodservice production has the effect of smoothing out the production process. Having plenty of high-value food ready to serve eliminates spikes in production during busy periods or when in-shop, carryout and delivery orders are piling up.

Cooking in large batches well ahead of time also reduces the need for scarce skilled labor, such as chefs, to be present throughout the day as is the case with cook-to-order production.

Increased demand can be met utilizing normal food prep and service conditions with no additional labor and little disruption to existing employee functions. On average, this results in fewer staff hours and lower labor costs. Over time, these savings represent a considerable return on investment.

Could SmartHold make a difference in your kitchen? Click here to learn more.

Why Holding Equipment is Vital to the “New Normal” in Foodservice

To say that the novel coronavirus pandemic has made a significant impact on the foodservice industry would be an understatement. Well-established norms and what little predictability we had before is now long forgotten.

While we’ve seen a decrease in traditional dining out, the demand for takeout and delivery has increased significantly this year.

The increased demand for takeout and delivery options isn’t projected to die down soon. The timeline for how long COVID-19 will continue to be a concern is still uncertain. Additionally, customers have become accustomed to this new way of eating, preferring the convenience of takeout and delivery options. But if there’s one thing the foodservice industry does well, it’s roll with the punches. Holding equipment is one tool that can help restaurants adjust to this “new normal.”

Food safety

Food safety is a concern that’s becoming increasingly important to both restaurant operators and consumers, and not just during this climate. In fact, 50% of consumers say sanitation will be their primary consideration when selecting a restaurant to visit after the time of coronavirus, according to Datassential. Holding cabinets can play a significant role in helping maintain food safety levels.

Holding cabinets enclose food in controlled environments with tightly sealed doors, keeping cooked food safe from airborne pathogens. Because food can be removed from ovens or fryer baskets and placed directly into holding cabinets, these units can also play a key role in reducing product handling.

Demand uncertainty

In this ever-changing environment, it can be tough to predict volume or demand. You’re not alone. Datassential reports 55% of restaurant operators don’t know how many orders will come in and when, making it tough to prep for the day. And 54% say it’s hard to figure out how much staff they need to keep up with demand. Holding cabinets can help mitigate this uncertainty, allowing food to be cooked before anticipated peak periods. This advantage is particularly useful if you’re working with a limited staff.

Utilizing holding cabinets can make the entire cooking sequence more economical. Holding a variety of foods for different lengths of time can help kitchen staff plan their cooking sequence for efficiency rather than necessity. Many holding cabinet models offer countdown timers, which display how much time food can continue to be held while maintaining food quality, helping make monitoring simple. Using holding cabinets can help streamline complicated kitchen processes during this time of demand uncertainty.

Operating costs

Holding cabinets can also help restaurants save on operating costs by keeping food at safe temperatures for longer and reducing food waste. Fans that circulate hot moist air evenly throughout the cabinet help maintain both safe temperatures and food quality, ensuring your restaurant retains its reputation for consistency.

Holding cabinets are better for preserving cooked food safely for long periods than other options, such as heated display cases or even warming lights. With extended food life, your restaurant can sell more and throw away less over the course of the day, helping save money on food and operating costs.

Henny Penny’s holding cabinets offer precise humidity control to provide longer hold times and are designed to help your restaurant thrive. Take a look at our holding solutions for your company.