Case Study: The Commission at Heathrow

Heathrow’s new casual dining restaurant needs fast, compact, energy-efficient refrigeration

The Commission is a new 175-seater casual dining and cocktail bar concept at Heathrow’s Terminal 4. 
A Drake & Morgan site, it’s operated by hospitality and foodservice company Delaware North and is open 16 hours a day, from breakfast to late night dinner and snacks. Since it’s ‘airside’, there are lots of restrictions – for example, getting service engineers in for breakdowns takes time. Meanwhile, it’s a high-pressure site with a constant stream of customers who often want to be served quickly.

All of which means the catering equipment has to be reliable, efficient and capable of delivering a high performance, which is why The Commission has Williams’ refrigeration.

The kitchen project was managed by the Airedale Group. The airside restrictions were further complicated by build hold ups resulting in Airedale’s window for installing the kitchen being cut from ten days to just three. 
Nils Braude is operational director for Delaware North’s travel sector. “Installation was challenging, but Airedale put in a good shift and we opened with everything working!” he says. “Space in an airport is at a premium, so the kitchen had to be as small as possible. For example, with the refrigeration we needed maximum storage in the smallest possible space. It also needed to be energy efficient.”

Williams Prep Counters at The Commission

The kitchen features a mix of Williams counters and undercounters, for both chilled and frozen storage. There are several specialist models, including a meat cabinet, a fish cabinet and a Thermowell, a chilled countertop unit for holding fresh ingredients safely. There’s also a bespoke coldroom.

“With refrigeration, reliability is key,” says Nils. “Particularly in an airport, due to our huge workload and because we can’t just get engineers airside at the drop of a hat. Williams is top of the range and is known for its reliability. We also know if it does go wrong it can be easily fixed.

“Williams has a wide range which allowed us to go for some specialist kit, such as raw meat and raw fish cabinets. Clearly, in an airport environment, health and safety as well as food safety are at a really high level, so we need the extra security specialist cabinets deliver.”

The Commission also has a Williams walk-in coldroom at the back of the kitchen. “It’s a bespoke unit that offers a large amount of storage in a small area,” says Nils. “Staff are in and out of it all day and we need the temperature to stay consistent. We use it for pretty much everything that comes up from the stores, for the restaurant and the bar. It’s our holding area, our half way house. Williams gives us the temperature control we need.”

Richard Greasley is national accounts development manager at Airedale. “Originally the coldroom was specified with integral refrigeration, but during the build it became clear that we’d need a remote system,” he says. “Williams did a great job in turning everything around very quickly.”

Nils says, “Having one main refrigeration manufacturer brings advantages for servicing, plus we want equipment that fits neatly together and is compact. Williams hits that mark.”

The Commission’s kitchen also features cooking appliances supplied by Williams’ sister company, Falcon, including an induction range and a rise and fall grill.

"The new kitchen is performing very well, very smoothly,” says Nils. “All our chefs are comfortable in it, and have been from day one. We’re hitting a very good ticket time for all the food items, which is thanks to the design, but also to the performance of the appliances and the refrigeration that the guys rely on. It’s all in the right place, the workflow suits us really well, and I have a happy kitchen team as a result. It hits the mark straight off the bat.”

Williams Refrigerated Counters at The Commission

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