Stepping Up to the Plate At InterMetro (an Ali Group Company) in Wilkes-

Barre, Pa., CEO John Nackley is seeing more requests for specialty, purpose-built items that help employees work more safely and efficiently in the kitchen. To meet those demands, the company is creating a new line of personal prep stations that help ensure good social distancing in the workplace. Other products that support a healthier, sanitized kitchen environment include both mobile and stationary “see through” barriers that can be used throughout the kitchen. “Right now, there’s an enhanced focus on ensuring that people who are preparing the food are appropriately separated,” Nackley says. Restaurateurs need equipment, supplies, and services that support a clean, sanitized pickup, delivery, drive-through, and grab-and- go environment. “We’ve seen this trend develop over the last few months,” Nackley explains, “and we expect an even higher emphasis on it for the foreseeable future.” Another product restaurants are using to manage COVID-19 is the MightyLite insulated food

“We’re looking closely at what trends are going to ‘stick’ as a result of the pandemic, and then figuring out how we can be a part of making sure we’re supporting the new workplace and new delivery systems.”

— John Nackley CEO InterMetro Wilkes-Barre, PA

carrier, which supports delivery as well as takeout operations. Designed for the catering business, the food pan carrier holds multiple full-sized pans and accommodates approximately 45 quarts of product. “Many restaurateurs that were not necessarily in the pick-up and take-out business have had to ramp up rather quickly,” says Nackley, whose team is using these “spikes” in demand to try to get out in front of future disruptions. For example, the attention being paid to how operators effectively and safely deliver food will likely continue, as will the need for personal workstations in the kitchen and more equipment that supports the grab-and-go food service environment. “We’re looking closely at what trends are going to ‘stick’ as a result of the pandemic,” Nackley says, “and then figuring out how we can be a part of making sure we’re supporting the new workplace and new delivery systems.”

Happy Cook, Happy Restaurant Throughout the crisis, Broaster Company of Beloit, Wis., has focused on working with its distributors and operators to develop and/or improve its carry-out capabilities both in terms of product and packaging. It also released its new E-Series pressure fryer, which simplifies the kitchen frying operation through auto filtration and other features that benefit ease of use on staff. For example, the equipment offers more efficient gas usage, is easier to train on, and is also easier to operate. “Happy cook, happy restaurant,” says Gregory West, senior vice president of marketing and food innovation. “Whenever you can make a piece of equipment that makes their jobs easier, you win.” West says the company is closely watching how

restaurants, convenience stores, and other food service establishments are changing their physical operations to adapt to the new environment. Ultimately, however, he’s bullish on the food service industry’s ability to weather this storm and return to some level of normalcy in the near future. “Just like we saw with the smart restaurateurs quickly figuring out how to do carry-out and curbside pickup, the industry is learning how to adapt,” says West. “At the end of the day, people have to eat. They also want good food, and the industry is adapting to meet that need.”

Summer 2020 11

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