Test Kitchens – Test Drive Appliances before you buy

You do not buy a new car without a test drive first, and the same holds for your restaurant’s kitchen equipment. Getting your hands on a product and seeing it in action can relieve any anxiety about purchasing a product. Like cars, kitchen appliances and utensils can be expensive, long-term commitments; it only feels right that you should be able to take your product for a spin before adding it to your restaurant.

While it may not seem as easy as heading to the local car dealership and going for a cruise, Demo Kitchens gives kitchen managers a chance to test-drive products in the same capacity. What do these demo kitchens offer, and how can you take advantage of a demo kitchen before making a huge purchase?

What are Demo Kitchens?

Utility Demo Kitchens are an excellent resource for customers to ‘try before you buy’ high efficiency, natural gas commercial foodservice equipment. Commercial foodservice trade allies and operators can ‘test drive’ new equipment before purchasing.

At these facilities, you can test anything from commercial kitchen products to residential cooking equipment, lighting, fireplaces, pits, etc.

These kitchens also provide an opportunity to participate in training, before and after installation. Manufacturers will come to demo kitchens and host workshops on their products, giving customers a first-hand look at everything in an educational setting.

Common Test Kitchen Applications:

Menu Development Cooking Technique

Whether you want to see if a particular piece can add to your kitchen or you are about to open your new restaurant and do not have a brick and mortar yet, you can set up an entire test kitchen to develop your menu. Set up a hood with a whole cook line to test your menu and determine which products cook the way you desire.

Side-by-Side Live Products testing and Brand Comparisons

Conduct testing on state-of-the-art equipment and make sure that the big purchase you make is the correct one. Multiple adapters and hoods allow for quick side-by-side testing of brands and features to ensure you are satisfied.

At Piedmont Natural Gas and Technology Center, they offer indoor and outdoor kitchens for testing in different cooking environments.

Photo Courtesy of Center Point Energy

Gas-to-Gas or Gas-to-Electric Equipment Testing Gas-to-Gas or Gas-to-Electric Equipment Testing  

See for yourself the value of natural gas. Although these facilities will promote the usage of natural gas, they will never back down from the challenge of testing your menu and style on gas equipment compared to electric. Whether you need to see for yourself or affirm your prior knowledge, testing gas-to-electric products can provide value. 

Real-Time Data Displays  

Along with testing the actual food products, you can also get real-time data displays to compare how the products will affect your kitchen. With thermocouple systems, you can test temperatures and energy output for each product or your entire kitchen line. Customers can test BTU, output, and see their costs savings per month, and per year. Clients can also find the product that will be the most energy-efficient for their needs, testing energy efficiency in real-time as they cook.   

Workshops, training, vendor showcases, displays, associate led demonstrations   

Manufacturer’s Representatives and their Corporate Chefs and manufacturer’s factory reps conduct equipment seminars and demonstrations. These can be scheduled events such as product showcases, training, and workshops to inform consumers on specific products and how they function.  

These demonstrations also allow customers to ask the manufacturers questions, as well as work with the products besides experts who know them best and will help you get the most out of them.   

At SoCal Gas, in Los Angeles, they feature an entire kitchen that is a commercial demonstration stage for seminars, classes, and a teaching center.   

Photo Courtesy of Center Point Energy

How Can You Utilize a Demo Kitchen? 

One of the best aspects of Demo Kitchens is knowing that all of these features are available by becoming a member at the center. You can become a member by merely contacting the center you would like to test, whether it be email, phone call, or through the website.   

You can also contact your equipment sales company. They are likely already a member and will be able to arrange times and equipment to be tested.   

Finding Kitchen Appliance Rebates  

Whether your business is a school cafeteria, office building, restaurant, healthcare, or another type of commercial foodservice operation, you can save with rebates that will reduce your energy costs, add efficiency, and increase quality.   

Rebates are a great way to offset the initial cost of energy-efficient equipment. High-efficiency equipment uses less natural gas and water so that you can pay less on your utility bills. If you have recently purchased new equipment or plan to buy new equipment, it is worth looking into available rebates from your testing facility.   

Photo Courtesy of Center Point Energy

To find rebates, contact the facility or go to the facility website. You also can purchase qualifying equipment, then submit a completed rebate application and a copy of the paid invoice. There are plenty of chances to save hundreds, if not thousands, by taking advantage of your Demo Kitchen facilities rebates.   

Find Appliance Rebates

Restaurants that invest strategically can cut utility costs 10 to 30 percent without sacrificing service, quality, style or comfort — while making significant contributions to a cleaner environment.

Now is the time to find your Demo Kitchen  

Are you interested in finding a facility where you can develop your menu and upgrade your kitchen equipment? Check out our list of 10 Demo Kitchens around the country.  Demo Kitchen facilities offer more than just a test-drive, but rather a complete and thorough experiment.   

By utilizing Demo Kitchens, you have more than just a relationship with your neighborhood car dealer. You have access to a variety of products, brands, and hands-on seminars that teach you to utilize each product to its fullest capacity and make the most of the energy costs. So, if it does not make sense to buy a new car without a test drive, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of every benefit that Demo Kitchens offer before purchasing valuable kitchen equipment? 

A special thank you to Piedmont and CenterPoint for the images used in this post!

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