FER REPORT: Anatomy Of A Salad Bar

Most salad bars are custom-made, but there are plenty of universal design points that make a salad bar easy for customers to use, simple to restock and almost effortless to merchandise. Below are a few tips we’ve gleaned from salad-bar design experts. One of the most important recommendations is complying with the updated food-shield guidelines referenced in NSF/ANSI Standard 2: Food Equipment (2010). On self-serve lines, NSF Int’l. reduced the opening between the shield and the counter through which customers reach to serve themselves from 14 in. to 13 in. NSF also increased the sum of the vertical and horizontal planes protecting the food from 18 in. to 20 in.; you can have one 20-in. shield or two pieces totaling 20 in. The maximum gap between side-by-side sections of glass is now 2 in.; the prior version of the standard didn’t specify. Additionally, the distance from the leading edge of the shield to the food being served must be three-fourths of the height of the opening through which customers reach. For example, if the opening is 12-in. high from the countertop to the bottom of the shield, then the leading edge of the food must be at least 9 in. back from the leading edge of the shield. Previously, this was 7 in. minimum.

• Leave room for containers, plates, bowls, utensils, bread rolls, etc., at the end of the bar.

• Visibility is key. Keep food shields clear and use lighting in the 3000K-3500K range (LEDs work well, too). This shield lifts for easy restocking.

• NSF/ANSI Standard 2 regulations on food shields have pushed ingredients farther from reach. Work within these guidelines by using long-handled utensils and tilting the display toward customers.

• Keep cold wells flexibly configured to accommodate multiple pan-insert sizes or unusual ceramic or plastic containers.

• If your countertop is made of heavy granite or quartz, be sure the bar is reinforced to support its weight.

• Refrigeration units in the base of the bar need space to vent hot air and should be accessible to service techs.

• Explore hot shelves and induction warmers to mix hot selections, including soups and hot proteins, with cold foods at the bar.

• Dressings in pour bottles make less of a mess than crocks with ladles.

• How will staffers restock ingredients? Figure the true time commitment and the logistics of the process ahead of time.

• Organize ingredients in a logical, build-a-salad order to maximize traffic flow.


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