Dennison Yard's kitchen gets a makeover.
Restaurant uses new technology to fix an old problem.
The Dennison Yard is an Italian restaurant that is located near Marlite’s manufacturing facility. It has been a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike. The restaurant is situated on an old rail yard that used to be a major hub for soldiers traveling by train during WWII. The building is steeped in local history and its walls are covered in photographs of local sports teams and community figures that can date back over 100 years. Along with the history they have preserved and put on display, they make a pretty darn good pizza to boot which is why it is no wonder they are a popular landmark in the area.
One of the problems with any restaurant is that as the building ages, it needs updated. The kitchen walls were a dense rubber material, and it was starting to show its age. The Dennison Yard had a bit of a dilemma however because a complete renovation to remove and replace the old with new could close the kitchen for up to a couple of weeks. Closing means lost sales revenue, employees missing weeks of pay, food spoilage, and more. It would be a large addition to the already expensive cost of the demolition and resurfacing the kitchen walls.
I was eating lunch there one day having a conversation with the owners whom I’ve known for quite some time when they explained their dilemma. They showed me the kitchen and went into detail about how difficult this project could be for them. The hard rubber material on the walls was becoming soft and increasingly difficult to clean and sanitize. There was also serious concern from the owners about the Health Department flagging this on their next inspection. The owners know that it needed to be addressed but were concerned about the time it may take to complete the renovation on their own. They had expected to have to close the restaurant for up to two weeks. I told them I might have a product that could alleviate their concerns.
Enter Symmetrix™ SmartSeam FRP. Marlite has taken Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) panels and physically grooved them with precision CNC technology to replicate tile both physically and aesthetically. Panels are designed in a “finger lock” style that interlock when installed and eliminates any need for seam joints or division trim. Most panels are cut to a very manageable 4’x4’ (nominal) size that is easy for one installer to handle.
With this technology it allows for the look of tile but with the added benefits of FRP. Panels are impact resistant and will not crack over time like sanded grout and will never need resealed. Our Sani-Coat sealer is spray applied during the manufacturing process and it makes panels resistant to staining, water, and scratching. Another very beneficial trait which is especially helpful with food service is that panels are resistant to mold and mildew growth. FRP is also resistant to most commercial cleaning agents meaning it withstands regular sanitizations without any damage to the finish of the material.
After some discussion, the owners decided to try the SmartSeam panels. So, one afternoon I went down to the restaurant with Denny Limron, the manager of our prototype lab to take some measurements and get a closer look at the jobsite. Denny put an action plan together along with a materials list and offered to help show the owner some tips for installation. After looking at several design options, the owner decided on the 3”x6” white subway tile pattern with white grooves for a clean and trendy look.
The owners planned on doing the kitchen renovations by themselves with the help of a friend. None of the individuals enlisted to help had ever installed FRP panels before.
The restaurant closed on a Saturday for the planned renovation. Most of the kitchen appliances were moved just a few feet from the walls and covered with sheeting to be safe. The existing walls were prepped by cleaning them thoroughly with degreaser and giving them with a light scuffing afterwards. Measurements of each wall were taken, and panels were laid out making the process move much faster. The owner and his friend applied adhesive to the back of each panel and started to apply them to the walls one panel at a time. In total, it took a team of 2 (who have never installed FRP before) less than a weekend to completely refinish the entire kitchen. Since it does not need any sealing after installation the kitchen equipment was able to be moved back into place the same day they finished. Shelving in the kitchen was able to be reinstalled without worry about mortar sagging or pulling away from the wall. The kitchen was renovated and ready for a busy lunch crowd the next day.
Symmetrix SmartSeam FRP took all the worry out of the process for the owners. They were ecstatic that was minimal down time and they could do it by themselves. Not only are the Symmetrix panels cost effective on their own to be installed, the other savings of not having to close for lengths of time and keeping their employees working was immeasurable. And as an added bonus, the next time the Health Department did a scheduled visit, they were applauded for the new state of the kitchen.
The employees mentioned that not only does the kitchen look brighter and cleaner with the new panels, it looks bigger as well. The owner’s wife decided after this installation she wants to redo the restaurants restrooms with Symmetrix SmartSeam Technology as well.