May 2020

Master-Bilt® Refrigeration News & Product Information

Reopening? Time to Rethink Refrigerated Storage Options

Updated 11-4-21

As the talk of the foodservice industry, and the rest of the nation, turns to reopening, hopefully your business is ready. But what will you return to and what does the future hold? At this point, it’s hard to say but whatever the trends may be, it’s a good time to re-assess your current kitchen layout as you prepare to get up and running again. And that assessment should include your refrigerated storage needs.

You may have to replace some equipment lost during shutdown. Maybe your 10-year-old reach-in was just about shot anyway and now, after being down for a month, it just won’t start up. You may need to downsize (or upsize) equipment due to changes in footprint or business volume. With food shortages, you may have to, at least temporarily, adjust your menu resulting in additional or different equipment needs. In any case, it’s good to know what your storage options are. The following is a basic rundown of the types of storage available. Remember, if you have questions, talk to your dealer, rep or equipment manufacturer.

Prep Tables

Sandwich/salad and pizza prep tables feature a refrigerated storage area underneath providing convenient access to bulk containers of ingredients used to re-stock pans in the top prep area. Optional refrigerated drawers can take the place of standard doors for quicker access to stored items. Depending on your menu, you may want to use larger sized pans for frequently used ingredients like lettuce. Mega top tables also give you an extra row of pans for added capacity. Flat top prep tables provide even more flexibility. When the top is closed, you have an extra work table and prep area. When open, you get the full use of a refrigerated prep table.


Like prep tables, these cabinets supply necessary storage for meats, vegetables and other ingredients. Undercounter refrigerators and freezers can typically be integrated into existing counters to preserve your workflow and make better use of your space.

Chef Bases

These cabinets are designed to complement cooking equipment which is stacked on top. Beef, chicken and other ingredients are held in the refrigerated base for cooking on the grill or griddle above.


Reach-in refrigerators and freezers are found in most foodservice prep areas. They provide additional storage beyond an undercounter or prep table and are usually offered in solid and glass door models. Typically, one-, two and three-section models are available. Determining the correct combination of size, features and options needed for your application can speed up your workflow and even help reduce your energy usage. Like undercounters, glass door models add visibility of stored contents. Half solid door models add efficiency because you can open doors without losing all the cool air inside the reach-in. See our guide to reach-ins for more information.


If you’re buying food items in bulk, you may need more storage than the previous options provide. If so, walk-in coolers and freezers are the answer. There’s a huge amount of flexibility with walk-ins. Depending on your application, you may be able to disassemble and move your walk-in or expand by adding panels to it. Walk-ins can be configured virtually any way you want with a vast array of options.  Electronic controllers, light management systems, structural floors and ramps are just a few ideas. For more on options, see this article. 

Taking stock of your business situation is always a good idea but particularly so as you begin the process of reopening. Be sure to make choices that maximize your cold storage and support your business future. As previously noted, if you have any questions, contact your dealer, sales rep or manufacturer.