From the Editor: Setting Up Food Lockers

Food lockers seem to be popping up in so many foodservice operations.

Allison for WEB

Food lockers seem to be popping up in so many foodservice operations.

The September issue of FER mentions the equipment at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., and fast-casual concept Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken. I understand the general idea— employees fill the cubbies with off-premise orders, customers or delivery drivers pick them up—but I admit, I don’t know how to specify them. So, I did what any part journalist, part equipment geek would do, and called a leading operator for details.

“Really think through your program. How are you going to use them? Make sure you get lockers at the size that you’re going to need,” says William Walker, assistant director of campus dining at Auburn, which started using four food locker systems about a year ago to support a contactless experience during the pandemic. He wishes the lockers held 16-inch pizzas. Right now, they hold 12-inch personal pizzas.

“Really think through your program. How are you going to use [food lockers]? Make sure you get lockers at the size that you’re going to need.” — William Walker, assistant director of campus dining at Auburn

Walker also suggests identifying where you will use the food lockers. “The way these lockers are produced, they have to fit into a cutout in a wall or something like that because they’re rear-opened and that’s how the back-of-house [employees] get in and out,” he says. “The backside is not secure but the front side is.”

Auburn first used the food lockers in a dining hall. Today, the university has them situated across multiple residential dorms and will use them as pickup points for a delivery program rolling out soon.

“When we moved them from the original location into the dorms, we had to actually build some faux walls and create a closet area behind them that secured,” Walker says.

His final tip: Use a mix of heated and ambient lockers and, if you can find them, refrigerated ones. “It’s nice to have the versatility if students order something hot and cold,” he says. Auburn has three heated lockers and one ambient locker.

Food lockers definitely have a place in foodservice. But if you’re looking for a simpler, potentially less-expensive way to hold off-premise orders, stay tuned for our October equipment comparison on heated holding shelves.

ALLISON REZENDES
Editor-in-Chief
arezendes@fermag.com


3 THINGS


THREE THINGS ABOUT AUBURN UNIVERSITY’S NEW DINING HALL

Food lockers aren’t the only thing happening at Auburn. On Aug. 13, the university announced the opening of its new dining facility, called the Edge at Central Dining. Here are some highlights.

HOMEGROWN MENU ITEMS

The Edge features everything from produce to fish to proteins from the College of Agriculture.

VARIETY OF STATIONS

The $26-million, 48,000-sq.-ft. facility sports nine different food stations, including one with allergen-sensitive menu items.

ROOM WITH A VIEW

Designers pulled the stations away from the windows to give patrons open views of the campus. The two-story facility has 800 seats.

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