On a freezing February day in Gateshead, the surroundings were very much warmed by the official launch of distributor GastroNorth’s new Gastrolab facility. Styling itself on a cutting edge gastropub, the demonstration kitchen looks to be a cut above the on-site offerings of many other dealers.
But what inspired GastroNorth to commit so wholeheartedly to a professional restaurant standard installation? According to director, Tim Whitfield: “It’s a concept we’ve been in and around since Richard Toye [fellow GastroNorth director] and I started in this industry 25 years ago. The company we worked at then had a demonstration kitchen in keeping with a high street fast food oriented style.
“We always wanted to recreate something like that, and we thought it is important that our customers can actually see an appliance working and what it will do for them and their business. So when we moved to our new premises in 2015, we highlighted an area and underlined that it had to be representative of what our customers want and what they do.”
The kitchen’s equipment outfit comprises a specially customised Unox Bakertop combi, deck oven and prover units; a Mibrasa charcoal oven and F1 quick cook oven, both supplied by Ascentia Foodservice Equipment; a Frima VarioCooking Center; Hatco warming drawers; a CookTek induction hob supplied by MCS; CED counter; Precision’s Retro Refrigeration; Adande refrigerated drawers; and a Maidaid Evolution warewasher.
Toye explained: “Some of the manufacturers we have worked with for a long time but we also wanted to showcase some of the most innovative, energy efficient and dynamic appliances that are available. It’s difficult for some people from this region to get to exhibitions in London, Birmingham or Manchester to see these appliances, so we thought we’d have this facility here, being the last Northern outpost of England.”
He revealed that the Gastrolab’s equipment offering is not just what is currently on view though, as they want to be able to move appliances in and out of the space to accommodate showcase events for anything newly-launched. “If a manufacturer has launched a product in London or Manchester then they can bring it here for end users in the North to see it at their leisure,” said Toye.
The current scheme even includes light equipment and tableware from the distributor’s online arm, Gastro-Direct, plus the interior outfit was completed by GastroNorth itself, with the brickwork, timber cladding and floor coverings all within its portfolio.
Using its own in-house engineering resources to fit out the facility, the Gastrolab came together over the space of 8 weeks between October and December 2016.
The firm will now be using the demonstration kitchen for regular open days and equipment showcases. Alongside the Gastrolab launch, the distributor will also send an accompanying website live, where users can book up demonstration events and discover the facilities available in more detail.