Catershop passes college test with Meiko

Armed with the challenge of finding a warewashing system capable of handling the high volumes of traffic customary at St Anne’s College in Oxford, Catershop has put its faith in meiko to be the star of the institution’s new £3m kitchen facility.

St Anne’s College Oxford has a proud history dating back to 1879 and is set within five acres of grounds straddling the main Banbury and Woodstock Roads in central North Oxford. There are six main buildings within the site, including the 1950s-built dining hall.

The construction of the kitchen and hall in 1959 was a defining moment. It created a valuable space, the Quad, and enabled students and fellows to dine together for the first time. St Anne’s, which is Oxford’s second largest college, will have a new £3m kitchen and dining hall in 2012, replacing a temporary kitchen built in 2001 to supersede the old kitchen, which was no longer fit for purpose. Planning permission for this — extended several times — finally runs out in 2012.

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The temporary kitchen was also essential to support the college’s growing conference business, which helps to bring in money to make up the gap between government funding and teaching expenditure.

Originally built to last for five years, the temporary kitchen has lasted for more than 10, but blocks glorious views of the Quad. However, it also produces more than 70,000 more meals per year than it was originally designed for.

“The new kitchen and dining hall will open up the Quad once again and enable St Anne’s not only to meet the demands of its fellows and 680 undergraduate and graduate students, but will also help to fuel a busy conference business which operates throughout the year,” explains David Holborow, sales director of Norwich-based kitchen design specialist Catershop.

The catering equipment cost at St Anne’s is more than £650,000. Holborow says: “Working as a partner within a professional team including architects and M&E engineers, we have — with Meiko’s help — devised a specification to meet the needs of the college. The key ingredient of the specification is sustainability. The new building will have a green roof, covered with vegetation, which will also be used for the college’s function and event catering.

“The brief was to design a kitchen to cope with higher volumes throughout the year, including phenomenal business during the summer months. When complete, the kitchen will feature all electric equipment in a big open-plan space, including the wash-up.

“Our specification includes a top-of-the-range Meiko K200 rack transport dishwasher capable of handling up to 300 racks per hour and featuring an extra-long drying tunnel to cope with the higher throughput. Events could see 900 for lunch plus conferencing business!”

Holborow says the company was able to draw on Meiko’s strong background in Oxford colleges, which it visited to hear how its machines had been performing, not only in terms of wash quality, but also in terms of service.

“Meiko’s success is due not only to its kit, but also in its back-up, maintenance and overall customer service,” he says. “After doing the rounds of the other colleges, St Anne’s was then easily persuaded to take Meiko, even though its system was more expensive than competitors. We were happy to recommend Meiko. It has tuned its equipment to such a high degree that it was able to prove it could provide the lowest life-cycle costs in terms of energy, water and chemical usage.The most sustainable choice is now the norm for Oxford colleges.”

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