Dean Kahl


How to shut down your commercial kitchen…

If you are sadly having to close your kitchen because of the latest Government lockdown restrictions, it’s important you shut down correctly, to ensure your equipment stays safe and fit for use.

Shutting down correctly ensures that when you come to re-open your equipment, it will work as expected and you won’t have any unnecessary breakdowns at a time when you need to become operational.

There are some simple tips or steps you can follow to shut down your kitchen, whether a restaurant, café, pub or in a leisure environment, all catering equipment should be treated the same.

Just remember the acronym P.E.C.D.I.A – Plan, Empty, Clean, Drain, Isolate, Ajar.

We’ll explore the tips further below, but if you need any help with your catering equipment you can book a callout or contact us here.

1. Plan

It is important when you shut down your kitchen, that you plan the process. This should begin by creating a list of all equipment that you will need to shut down correctly, including any gas equipment, cooking equipment, warewashing and refrigeration.

What you shut down and how you shut down will depend on the length of time you will be shut. For example, within a refrigerator most food will expire however within a freezer, it will last longer, so you may not need to defrost the freezer.

This will then have implications when you re-start the kitchen, as certain equipment will need to get back to temperature. So you may need to begin your start-up process before you open your doors to the public.

You should also consider how long equipment will take to shut down. For example is it just a case of switching off and leaving the door ajar, such as a microwave, or will it need to go through an automated cleaning process, such as a dishwasher. Start these first before doing the easier, shorter tasks so you make better use of your time.

2. Empty

It may sound obvious, but if the equipment is not going to be used, it should be emptied properly

This not only includes cupboards and refrigerators where food may go out of date during closed period, but also fryers, blenders, mixers and warewashing equipment.

Reasons for emptying your equipment include:

  • You won’t be greeted by nasty smells when you re-open!
  • It will remain food-safe without the building up of bacteria
  • Cleaning will be far easier, quicker and more thorough!

If you have unused food, why not consider donating to a local food bank charity or care home that may be able to use the food? Or set-up a market stall outside your restaurant to sell produce at a discounted rate?

Planning and keeping a list will also help when it comes to re-starting your kitchen.

3. Clean

One of the most important aspects of a kitchen shut down procedure is to clean everything thoroughly.

This not only includes all surfaces, floors and walls but your equipment. By thoroughly cleaning your equipment (even more so than when your daily service finishes) you will ensure that there is not a build-up of bacteria which could cause further issues when you re-open.

By thoroughly cleaning kitchen equipment you will also ensure the longevity of the equipment, as any moving or critical parts, such as heating elements, won’t be compromised.

There are some key differences in how you will need to clean some equipment found in your kitchen:

  • Gas Ranges & Ovens – don’t use excessive liquids or chemicals, so that you don’t block any of the burners.
  • Combi Ovens – run the automated wash cycle, ensure then that all cleaning and chemical dosing lines are purged to prevent blockages.
  • Cast Iron & Steel – thoroughly clean coat any “non-stainless” parts in vegetable oil and wrap in cling-film to prevent corrosion/rust.
  • Warewashing – as well as running an automated clean cycle, or clean any wash arms and filters separately.
  • Refrigeration & Freezers – don’t forget to clean the seals and gaskets, then wipe off any chemical/detergent residue with water.

As well as cleaning, it is worthwhile ensuring that any gas equipment controls are suitably greased/oiled. Gas valves can dry out after prolonged periods of no use and could leak gas if not serviced.

If you have any concerns about the safety of equipment after cleaning, don’t hesitate to contact us.

4. Drain

After you have cleaned your equipment, you need to drain your equipment! Fryers would have already been drained in order to clean them, but Combi or steam ovens, warewashing equipment and ice machines will need to be drained.

Remember to run any automated cleaning procedures before draining!

Things you will need to drain include:

  • Boilers of combi oven or steam ovens.
  • Combi oven internal dosing system (for cleaning modes); purge any chemicals back into the chemical container.
  • Warewashing (dishwasher, glasswasher etc) dosing systems; purge any chemicals back into the chemical container.
  • Warewashing equipment in general, to ensure there is no build-up of biofilm and other bacteria.
  • Ice machines will need to be purged of any ice and fully drained too!

Draining equipment is an easy step to forget but vitally important to prevent bacteria and other nasties building up.

Do you need help with shutting down your kitchen safely? We can help!

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5. Isolate

This is one of the most important steps in shutting down your kitchen. Isolating! Why is it important? It not only prevents unnecessary power usage (with equipment in standby mode), it also prevents the risk of fire and other incidents, as no-one will be around to check the equipment.

Isolating essentially means switching off and/or removing from power or gas supply.

For electrical equipment, simply unplug it, or turn off at the isolator (normally a circular red dial you turn). If it uses a standard 3-pin 13-amp plug and socket, turn off the switch and unplug. We don’t advise turning off at the main power distribution board, because this will also turn off freezers you may wish to keep switched on.

For gas equipment, if you have a gas interlock system, it should already be isolated when your extraction is not running. However, to be sure, you can close off the manual isolation valve where the gas pipe enters the kitchen by turning to “off”.

It is advised to keep some equipment like fly killers turned on permanently, another reason we don’t recommend isolating the entire kitchen at the distribution board.

If you have any concerns about isolating equipment speak to a suitably qualified engineer who will be able to advise. Or contact us!

6. Ajar

The final phase of shutting down your commercial kitchen is leaving doors ajar. Why? Leaving doors ajar will allow air to circular within equipment, preventing bacteria build-up, smells and moisture which could cause rust and further issues.

Equipment you might want to consider leaving “ajar” include:

  • Microwaves
  • Oven doors
  • Fryer lids/covers
  • Refrigerators
  • Freezers (if defrosted and switched off)
  • Cold rooms
  • Ice machine bins/covers

However, if you think any machines may be exposed to dust, insects or pests, you might want to shut the doors, or cover the opening with breathable sheet material.

If you can’t leave any equipment ajar, you should try to air and clean it once a week, particularly warewashing equipment where hygiene is important.

If in doubt, ask!

The correct kitchen shut down or decommissioning procedure is designed to keep your equipment safe, fit for us, and most importantly ready to use when you start-up your kitchen post-Lockdown.

The correct procedures will prevent breakdowns when you have minimal time and finances to get things fixed, so it is worth investing the time now!

However, if you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We are happy to provide free advice and arrange for an engineer to attend site to help.

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