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What is a Plate Lowerator?
Plate Lowerators are relatively basic pieces of equipment that serve a big role in hospitality foodservice operations. They keep plates organized and warm to a front-of-house serving station. Despite their fairly uncomplicated nature, though, you should be aware of the differences and options available for specifying the right model for your facility’s and business needs.
A Plate Lowerator is a heated cabinet catering equipment with a plinth fitted inside which is attached to a series of springs. The amount and size of the springs balance the weight of the plates being warmed. Warmed plates are taken from the top of the stack and the stack rises to give you convenient plate access on demand. A heating element is situated under the stack of plates which heats the plates. Some Single heated mobile Plate Lowerators can handle up to 40 plates and Double Plate Lowerators up to 80 plates depending on the thickness of the plates. The diameter plate sizes are between 200mm to 300mm. They have temperature controls via a thermostat which means it controls the heat setting by reading the temperature of the surrounding air.
Mobile Plate Lowerators dispensers and drop-in dispensers, which are normally on the front-line, enable employees to load plates directly from the dishwashing area and move the dispenser where it’s needed. They also work well at kiosks and special events.
All mobile Plate Lowerator dispensers stack and store clean plates in silos within stainless cabinets on casters. Units typically stand approximately 40-in height and offer from one to four silos, each silo holding between 40 and 80 plates, depending on the model and type of plate.
How many dispensers do you need?
Manufacturers recommend matching quantity to the number of meals served at restaurants or the size events you cater for. For example, if a facility serves 450 meals at peak dining periods, two units—each with three 80-plate silos—fit the bill. Depending on where the plates are needed, you might instead choose a different combination of single-, two-, three - or four-silo dispensers.
Dishes are stacked in the silo, with spring-loaded Plate Lowerators keeping the top plate at the top of the silo regardless of how many plates are in the unit. Silos usually come in various sizes to accommodate a range of plate diameters. While plate diameters from 8 in. to 12 in. are most common, manufacturers make units with silos that can handle plates as small as 3 in. in diameter.
Plate silos are adjustable, to an extent; the manual will have the guide. A dispenser with a silo built for 10-in. to 12-in. plates can easily handle dishes within that diameter range but is not built for 6-in. plates. Inserting non-marring rods into the silo allows additional flexibility for smaller diameter plates, but the better option is using a dispenser specifically designed for smaller plates. Smaller diameter plates placed in wider silos can move around increasing the chances of chipping or breakage.
For plated hot meals, Plate Lowerators Single or Double Mobiles work best. Hot food served on ambient temperature plates cools faster than when served on heated plates. Additionally, covering hot food on an unheated plate leads to condensation on the inside of the cover as moisture is pulled out of the hot food.
Heated dispensers keep plates warm with either radiant or convection heat. Depending on the make and model, temperatures vary, while some basic models offer only one temperature, others have a variety of presets or come with manually adjustable thermostats. Higher-end convection models may have digital temperature readouts.
A plate lowerator is essential piece of catering equipment for any foodservice or catering business.