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Hot idea

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Lewis Grill Maidstone

Some of the best ideas are the simplest ones, but what supercharges them is when they are operator-driven and born out of necessity – like this hot holding terminal developed by the team at Lewis’s Fish Grill in Maidstone, Kent

About four months before lockdown, business started taking off for newcomer Lewis’s Fish Grill with deliveries growing from zero to 400 a week and more click and collect orders than it cares to remember. 

While staff worked tirelessly to keep up and put out the best product, complaints about cold food slowly began to increase, the main culprit being the customer or delivery driver not turning up to the shop on time. 

“The traditional way that we dealt with that is would be to cook the food, have it ready in the cabinet and when the customer comes, we wrap it,” explains Gavin Lewis, owner of Lewis’s Fish Grill. “Well, that’s not always what the customer wants, customers expect their food to be ready for them to go. The same with delivery drivers, especially on Uber Eats, they can mark us on the handoff and that can affect our score and whereabouts we’re positioned on the site.”

What Gavin wanted was a hot cupboard to hold packed orders. After looking at the options already available, he approached a local fabricator to create a bespoke unit. The result is a six-door Hot Order Terminal capable of holding up to 14 orders. 

Made using high-grade stainless steel, the cabinet is thermostatically controlled and double skinned for added insulation. Unlike other hot holding cabinets on the market that heat using elements, this uses hot air which continually circulates throughout the unit, guaranteeing an even distribution of heat. Although Lewis’s has a 20-minute window in which it stores food in the terminal, trials have shown this can be pushed to 40 minutes without impacting the quality.

“It’s been an absolute game-changer,” says Gavin. “My team can prepare the order, put it in the cabinet and when the customer or delivery driver arrives they tell us their name or their order number and the food is ready for them. This speeds up service because we’re not packaging the food when the customer arrives and it means when an order is passed to the customer they have the confidence that the food is hot because they can feel the packaging is hot. When the driver comes in, they then use their insulated bags to keep orders hot during the delivery process.”

With complaints of cold food few and far between and service levels now much quicker, Lewis’s is keen to assist other shops overcome the same issues so is manufacturing and marketing the equipment to the industry. With two, four and six door versions available, the unit can sit on a counter top or be mounted on legs or wheels. Prices start from £2,634 with a lead time of approximately four weeks.

As well as being ideal for shops with a high turnover of deliveries and click and collect, the terminal can help those wanting to attract customers back into their stores. Gavin adds: “The goal post-pandemic is to get customers back in store because once they’re back in, you’re not paying commission to the delivery platforms.”

Lewis’s Hospitality Solutions 07411 008208 lewisfishandgrill@gmail.com

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