Built in the 1720s for Sir Robert Walpole, Houghton Hall in North Norfolk remains one of England’s finest Palladian houses, designed to reflect the wealth, taste, and power of Great Britain’s first Prime Minister. The Hall has been owned by the same family for over two centuries, and now rests with the 7th Marquess of Cholmondeley and his young family.
The Hall is now a popular grand stately home in North Norfolk, with stunning grounds and visiting hours all-year round. Visitors come not only for the Hall and grounds, but also to art exhibitions and cultural events regularly hosted there – such as the spectacular ‘Lightscape’, an ambitious exhibition of James Turrell’s light pieces, which was heralded nationally as one of the sensations of the 2015 art calendar.
Visitor dining can be found in the Hall’s imposing Stable Block – where the Stable Café is a ‘masterpiece’ by Chris Coughbrough, aka the Flying Kiwi.
The Flying Kiwi
Originally from New Zealand, Chris Coughbrough, aka the ‘Flying Kiwi’, is a widely celebrated restaurateur with popular pubs and luxury hotels all across North Norfolk.
He was recently awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from East Anglia’s renowned Eastern Daily Press.
He is also the chair of the North Norfolk Food Festival, which helps provide some of the best local food providers with the chance to reach a wider, national audience.
Chris’ passion for local food and ingredients is reflected in the Stables Café, which specialises in traditional, seasonal food to go with its quintessentially English setting.
Catering for between 500 and 1000 covers a day, the café is self-serve and doesn’t take bookings, so turn-around has to be fast. To help enhance presentation of the food within a ‘grab-and-go’ system, as well as keeping it fresh and in top condition, Chris and his team chose the quality performance and reliability of Williams Refrigeration.
“The chilled serve display refrigeration we have now with Williams is brilliant because the food and drink is right in front of the customer. The merchandisers are well lit and keep the food as fresh as it can be, coming straight from the garden.”
Alongside the Williams sandwich chiller, the café has two Gem Multidecks, one displaying full meals, such as salads and traditional Ploughmans’, the other with chilled drinks, including cordials presse and juices made from the estate.
“The Williams units have immediately increased customer spend. The customer likes to see the product before they buy it. The bright LED illumination makes the food look great and helps stimulate sales, making them more likely to go for a main meal rather than just a snack.
“Meanwhile the contemporary style and design from Williams fits perfectly in the café and helps visitors move through the self-service area very quickly and get back to what they came for – the halls and the art.”
Sustainability is also a key criteria for Houghton Hall. Williams’ energy-saving technologies, developed under its Greenlogic initiative, are a key feature of its display equipment. For example, the open-fronted, self-service Sandwich Chiller features an innovative ‘air curtain’ system that recycles the cold air normally wasted in conventional designs.
While the functionality of the refrigeration was important for the fast, quick-serve operation of the café, it also needed to look appealing to suit the hall’s grand setting.
“Along with Lord and Lady Cholmondeley, our team has gone to great efforts to make the café fit in with the stunning estate. We needed aesthetically pleasing refrigeration, not something cold and industrial looking.
“Williams ticks all the boxes we need here for a grand stately home serving grand food from what needed to be a sharp-looking, contemporary refrigeration system.”
Williams’ popular Gem Multidecks feature attractive designs to enhance front of house presentation, reliable and effective refrigeration to keep food safe, and a clever layout that maximises every millimetre of retail space.
LED lighting creates a bright display and minimises energy use and waste heat. Options include rear loading doors to provide easy access for restocking, and front sliding doors to minimise energy consumption. Accessories include snack selection baskets, security shutters and night blinds.
Williams offers the Multideck range in a choice of slimline or standard versions, to suit the available space. Both formats are perfect for front of house display, giving customers easy access to drinks, pre-packed snacks and dairy products. They are also available in a huge range of stainless steel colours and finishes, to match the site’s décor and style.
Gem Sandwich Chillers
The Gem Sandwich Chiller is an attractive, open-fronted, self-service display cabinet, that maximises every millimetre of retail space.
This is achieved by a number of clever design features. For example, its night blind is positioned to leave the whole of the top shelf clear for display. Also staff can use the full depth of its shelves to display product. With most designs, there needs to be a gap between the food product and the cabinet’s back wall, to ensure airflow passes through. The Sandwich Chiller’s Air Wall means product can be loaded right up to the rear of the cabinet, with no gap and no risk of compromising food safety.
Its innovative ‘air curtain’ system is designed so that cold air cascades down the front of the unit, protecting the food and drink by maintaining temperature while offering customers easy access and an attractive display.
With conventional designs, much of the cold air is lost into the environment. On the Williams version however, careful angling of the ‘curtain’ ensures that nearly all the cold air is recycled, either into the cabinet, helping maintain temperature, or by being drawn through vents and grills to cool the refrigeration system itself and thus reduce energy consumption.
The combination of effective refrigeration and high performance insulation means that temperature pull down times are very fast – so that the cabinet temperature is always within set parameters (2 to 5°C), even in ambients of 25°C.
Aztra under counter units are particularly popular with cafes and sandwich shops. They are perfect for fitting neatly under the main coffee station, giving quick access to your milk / dairy products, putting them right where you need them most.