Opening a seafood restaurant is a large undertaking. Though most of the standard pieces needed in every commercial kitchen should be present, such as prep tables or a commercial range, however there are numerous pieces of both BOH and FOH equipment that should be present in a commercial seafood eatery. Here are a few of the more important items used when cooking and serving commercial quantities of seafood.
Back Of The House
A restaurant that prepares a tremendous amount of seafood has some specific needs that other food service operations may not have.
- Steamer – A commercial steamer is incredibly important in a commercial seafood operation. Items like clams, mussels, and a tremendous range of other fish are prepared by steaming, and business owners should shop carefully when picking out a steamer. A steamer can be one of the most important and heavily used pieces in a seafood kitchen, and it is important that a steamer be purchased with this in mind.
- Stock Pot Range– A stock pot range is necessary in many commercial seafood operations. Ideal for cooking large batches of chowder or crawfish boils, boiling lobsters, or cooking off large amounts of sauce, the stock pot range has a wide range of applications in a seafood kitchen.
- Broiler – A charbroiler is standard in most commercial kitchens, however, many restaurateurs opening seafood restaurants will opt to upgrade their charbroilers with seafood grates. Seafood grates have a specifically designed to cook seafood, which are much better when working with fish that may stick or splinter on the grill. Many seafood restaurants will also use a wood fired char grill or grill on cedar planks for to infuse their fish with rich smoky flavor.
- Refrigeration – Seafood is very perishable, so adequate refrigeration is an absolute necessity. A functional walk-in, reach-in coolers, and refrigerated drawers with drip pans (for icing fish on the line) are all necessary in a commercial seafood operation.
- Cutlery – There are a number of pieces of specialty cutlery intended specifically for working with seafood. Items like filet knives, boning knives, and oyster knives along with items like fish turners should be on hand. Additionally, restaurants that offer sushi will need a selection of specialty cutlery for things like sashimi.
- Specialty Utensils / Equipment – There are a tremendous number of specialty smallwares and equipment that needs to present when preparing fish or other various seafood. Smallwares such as fish scalers, sushi rollers, claw crackers, a hammer or hook for conch, and even a citrus juicer / wedger (for things like ceviche or sushi) should be on hand. In addition to the seafood smallwares, equipment such as oyster shuckers or shrimp cleaners should also be considered to decrease prep time.
- Security Cages – Seafood is often times expensive, and many business owners choose to keep it under lock and key. Security cages are an ideal way to keep expensive seafood like lobster securely stored when not in use. Often times, business owners prefer epoxy coated security cages, as they are corrosion resistant and suitable for use in a refrigerator.
Front Of The House
Much like their kitchens, the FOH of a seafood restaurant operates like any standard food service operation. Furnishings, tableware, glassware, etc. are all needed for a functioning full service operation, however, there are several pieces that are found in a large percentage of seafood restaurants.
- Sushi or Seafood Case – Sushi is becoming more and more commonplace in commercial seafood operations. These (often) refrigerated displays are an elegant addition to any FOH, and allow sushi purveyors to keep product being displayed fresh.
- Cold Plate & Cold Wells – Many seafood restaurants offer customers a raw bar with items like clams and oysters, and to keep these items cold while displaying them a cold plate or cold wells will be necessary. Restaurateurs that purchase a cold plate or cold wells for their raw bar often opt to purchase built-in models so they can be custom tailored to fit the décor and furnishings of the restaurant.
- Specialty Tableware – Diners at seafood restaurants often require a number of additional pieces of tableware during their meal. Items like claw crackers, seafood forks, and even accessories such as butter warmers should be well stocked in your FOH.