ACTS Retirement-Life Community, a mix of independent and assisted living centers that includes 8,000 residents, encompasses 23 communities located within eight states. Foodservice is a big part of its operations, with the average number of meals served each day ranging between 265 at a smaller community and 775 at the larger properties.
For independent residents who take meals in the main dining hall, it is an elegant affair.
“We have country club-style dining,” said Linda Conti, director of purchasing services. “The independent residents still dress up for dinner in some of our venues.”
The menus include a variety of comfort foods, like meatloaf, chicken and stews, in addition to popular dinners, such as salmon, steak, crab cakes and roasts.
ACTS Retirement-Life Communities was first connected with Alto-Shaam in the 2000s as a purchasing committee was reviewing hot wells for the communities. The goal was to find equipment that could hold in bulk without the food drying out.
Alto-Shaam’s Halo Heat® drop-in hot food wells are available in 1- to 5-pan capacities. This equipment offers longer holding capability without the hazards and costs associated with steam-heated equipment. An electrical hookup is all that’s needed, so there are no water, plumbing or water related installation or service costs. And, the wide flange option provides décor match capability.
“It has worked really well transitioning from tray service in our assisted care areas where we have installed the dry wells from Alto-Shaam,” Conti said.
Alto-Shaam’s signature Halo Heat technology gently wraps around food, providing a radiant heat to prevent food from drying. The heated food wells keep food fresh and appealing through its precise temperature controls, removing the need for steam-based systems.
As a result, the hot wells are improving the overall dining experience through the reduction of steam and keeping the dining hall temperatures at comfortable levels.
The major benefit to using hot wells, however, is the elimination of water. The energy-efficient heating system also reduces or eliminates major costs, including installation, water and sewer, electricity, deliming and food waste.
“For installation, there is no need for water and drains to be present or added for a project,” Conti said. “As for maintenance, we no longer have to replace wells that were damaged by lime and minerals in the water or run dry and scorched.”
The Alto-Shaam hot food wells also have reduced ACTS’ labor and increased employee safety. Because employees are not changing steam pans, the risk of staff burning themselves is reduced. The overall result is better-tasting food at a lower operating cost.
“We were moving into areas that weren’t designed with kitchen hoods,” said Conti. “Sometimes the ambient room temperatures were being affected by the steam from other holding mechanisms. The moisture was shortening the life of cabinet and drywall in those areas. We were looking for a way to reduce the moisture and the heat in those issues.”
Learn more about the benefits of heated holding cabinets: www.alto-shaam.com/Holding-FES20150806.