food service counters

food display counters



Idyllically situated in Regents’ Park, the building that is now Regents’ College originally formed part of the University of London. In 1984, the Crown lease was taken by Rockford College, Illinois, with a view to providing American students with an opportunity to embark on courses with a strong British bent. Over the following years, other institutions have moved here and now there are five very successful schools offering pre-degree and foundation courses through to undergraduate and postgraduate programs to students from all over the world. It is now regarded as one of the UK’s most respected private colleges.

A recent programme of refurbishment, spearheaded by Director of Facilities, Nicholas Turner, included re-designing and upgrading the college’s five catering facilities. More than 2500 students, staff and visitors eat at the college every day, but the vast majority use the Regents’ Refectory, the main student restaurant, which is open seven days a week.

Mr Turner needed a company that could interpret his ideas accurately and work to a deadline to avoid disruption to student life. Following introduction by the school’s contract caterer, Nelson Catering Equipment won the contract to refurbish and re-fit all five sites.

The most important of these was, undoubtedly, the Refectory, where an entire new servery counter system was required. The Refectory is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, providing meals that must appeal to a wide taste spectrum. It is also open outside these times for hot and cold beverages and snacks. More than 2000 students must be able to access the servery at any mealtime, so the design had to allow a large number of people to comfortably use the various areas at any one time, whilst enabling free flow. Furthermore, it had to have the capacity to cope with an inevitable increase in numbers as the college grows.

John Nelson led the design team and worked closely with Nicholas Turner to ensure the finished design would fulfil all his criteria. “It’s absolutely vital in a situation like this that every last eventuality has been considered,” he explains. “We decided that custom made units would give us the flexibility we needed but, before work started, we produced several sets of plans and elevations and, when these were fully approved, we produced a video walk-through that showed the project in real time to help the client to anticipate the finished result. In my experience, putting extra effort into the initial stages not only contributes to a perfect design, but avoids the possibility of expensive mistakes.”

The food service servery area is now compartmentalised to simplify the students’ choice, maximise food display and prevent queues. Those people simply wanting a sandwich or roll can choose from the Grab & Go display which is sited in front of the main servery counter. A centrally located, ‘L’ shaped, chilled, salad counter means that students opting for salads and a drink can take what they want and leave immediately. Similarly, a soup counter and a hot and cold beverage area can be accessed without having to follow a path around the servery’s periphery.

For those wanting a hot meal, a large heated display sited directly in front of the commercial kitchen holds a constantly replenished selection of the day’s dishes. A further hot and cold display holds desserts and is also utilised for breakfast service.

The ergonomic floor layout provides generous spaces between displays to enable free footfall and prevent a build up in any one area, not unlike a food court. Also, because students pay by means of a pre-loaded debit card which simply has to be swiped, the payment process is fast and efficient.

The aesthetic appeal of the food servery counters was important too. The nearby reception counter was the inspiration and Nicholas Turner asked for the same German slate top and brushed aluminium trim to visually tie the two together.

Covers are already showing an increase as students are using the Refectory for more of their daily meals meaning that the installation is an unparalleled success.

servery counters
food service counters
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