Considering our location...Utah, along the Wasatch Front...basically in mountain country...we ought to be able to just breath in all that fresh air - right? Well, maybe up at the ski resorts but probably not down here in the valley. It's interesting as I get further along in the process of opening my own restaurant, I'm getting to learn a lot more about all the 'behind-the-scenes' decisions that have to be made. One of those decisions is how to handle all of my exhaust needs.
As per my name of "Nellie's Diner", I'm a down-home diner style restaurant. That means hash browns, bacon, eggs (cooked on the grill...not in egg pans), pancakes, chicken fried steak and much much more for breakfast. For lunch, burgers, fries, onion rings...I could go on and on, but since this post isn't about my menu...
The type of food I decided on directly affects the type of cooking equipment that I need to have. Grills, Char Broiler, and Fryers make up the bulk of my kitchen. Along with my equipment choice, I now have to deal with grease...grease on the grills, grease on the walls, grease on the floors, and grease in the air (while limiting the amount of grease on your plate). I can take care of keeping my grills clean along with my walls and floors. However, the grease in the air is something that I can't very easily clean. So what do I do? That's where my exhaust system comes in...one of the many 'behind-the-scenes' decisions that need to be made early on in the process.
If you look around at various eating establishments, especially up on the roofs, you may notice that restaurants and fast food outlets typically have more equipment up there than other businesses. That equipment includes an exhaust fan and 'make-up' air (since the exhaust fan is removing air from the building, you need a way to bring fresh air back into the building...that's the 'make-up' air). Anyway, you've walked around outside and all of a sudden you get that whiff of burgers cooking or the smell of french fries...those smells are coming from the various exhaust systems of the surrounding restaurants. In reality, what you are smelling are particles of...you got it - grease. So now where is your fresh air.
As I'm in the process of choosing my exhaust system, I seem to be in a bit of a unique situation...the space that I'm planning on going into is in a multi-story building. What that means is I'm a bit limited on what type of exhaust system that I can install. If I install a conventional system...the same system where you can smell the burgers and fries being cooked (the same system that is basically loading the surrounding air with tiny bits of grease particles), I'd have to run the system through eight (count them...8) stories to get to the roof. In reality, that's not too practical and can get very expensive - especially the installation.
My alternative? Well, just another expensive system, but an interesting one. Nothing is final yet, but it looks like I'll need to go with a system that will actually clean my exhaust air by about 98-99% of grease particulates before exhausting it to the outside. What does that mean? No smell, no grease particles, just clean fresh air - like it should be. The expense? - well, only about $70K - ouch. However, it's all in the cost of doing business, and in the name of...clean air.