Operators consider food shields a necessary evil because health departments require these items, which can impede customers in self-serve situations.
For this reason, when specifying food shields, it is important to make sure these units are as useful and attractive as possible.
When selecting a food shield, function and style are of the utmost importance. These units are typically one of the first things customers encounter when they visit a restaurant. Consequently, the design should help present food in an appealing manner.
Cleanability and durability also are key when choosing these items, especially for front of house use.
Most food shields are constructed of glass and metal. More often than not, these units are custom designed for operations to properly fit the counters they are used in conjunction with.
Not only is the coordination of the guard to the counter important, but the food shield needs to interact properly with the equipment around it. For example, a 30-inch food shield will not properly protect a 40-inch food pan.
There are food shields designed for self-serve operations, where customers come in direct contact with these units, and full-serve shields.
The unit should meet the specific needs of the operation. For example, if the food shield’s guard will be used in both self- and full-serve positions, features that provide simple adjustment in accomplishing this should be considered.
Although there are standard sizes, manufacturers can produce any size food shield that is needed. Options include lights, heat lamps and double-tiered designs.
It is important that the food guard manufacturer be easy to work with and familiar with NSF guidelines. The company should not only stand behind its product, but also help coordinate a potentially complicated installation process. If a problem arises, the manufacturer should be available for assistance.
Food shields can be a big investment, and they should be. Significant investments typically pay off. Because these systems will literally be in the customers’ faces, they need to properly reflect the operation and its ambiance.
The job of these units is not only to assist in displaying food but also merchandise it in a way that helps increase sales.