Kit that can save space and time

A commercial microwave can facilitate menu expansion

The right commercial microwave allows operators to offer a variety of dishes, such as burgers, lasagne and curries, quickly and easily

THERE’S no denying that, in today’s on-trade, food is a lucrative business. And for pubs that are short on space, a commercial microwave can make tapping into this sector a lot more straightforward.

Iain Phillips, sales and marketing manager at Panasonic UK, told SLTN: “A commercial microwave can be utilised to help expand a pub menu and give operators the opportunity to offer dishes that may otherwise be time restrictive.”

He added that, for operators who have limited space for commercial equipment, the right microwave “can replace the need for several items of equipment as it will grill, toast, bake, re-heat, cook, brown, fry, poach – and doesn’t need extraction, so can be located anywhere, in the smallest of kitchens”.

John Whitehouse, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association, echoed this view, stating: “Most of these combined cooking appliances are relatively compact and are designed for just a few portions, which is ideal for pubs and bars, where diners – often in ones or twos – want feeding quickly. Plus, they are programmable, so staff simply have to push the right button to cook the food, allowing them to get on with serving the customer.”

Kris Brearley, sales director at RH Hall, took a similar view on the versatility of the commercial microwave, as well as the benefits it offers licensees.

He said: “Today’s microwave ovens are sophisticated, yet easy to use and produce excellent cooking results in a fraction of the time it takes to cook foods conventionally – and their versatility is underestimated.

“Used properly, the microwave will form a key part of the kitchen operation and the ability to serve a full menu.”

However, for all that the commercial microwave is generally a versatile piece of kit, operators would still be wise to tailor the model they choose to the type of menu they wish to offer, according to Brearley.

“To choose the right kind of microwave, operators should look at their menu offering and decide what tasks the microwave should undertake,” he explained.

“If the microwave is to be used mainly for simple reheating and defrosting of foods, then a straightforward commercial microwave will suffice.

“However, if you wish to reheat and cook food products, then a combination microwave oven is well-advised. Items such as pastry will become soggy if reheated in an ordinary microwave, whereas using a combination microwave, the crisp, golden brown and conventional finished result will be achieved in microwave time.”

Used properly, the microwave will form a key part of the kitchen operation.

Another important consideration for licensees purchasing a commercial microwave is the wattage they opt for.

Brearley said: “You need to select an oven with sufficient power, but just as importantly, do not over specify. If too low, frustrations can be caused by delays, and if too high, it will be difficult for the user to judge the timing of small portions.

“While it is common for caterers to choose speed (the higher the output the faster reheat times), it is also very important to understand that for some food products, too much speed will destroy smaller portions of food or the delicate and sugary types of products.

“Finally, always choose from a commercial range of microwaves; operators shouldn’t be tempted to go down the domestic route – these units simply aren’t built for the rigours of a professional kitchen.

“Likewise we would also recommend that cheap imports are avoided; the testing, safety and product back-up that are offered by the leading brand names are often not available with a cheap import.”

Phillips of Panasonic UK advised that operators “can maximise the investment they make in purchasing a good microwave by using them for a wide variety of cooking applications, but more importantly, they must look after them”.

Brearley of RH Hall agreed, stating that with annual servicing in place, a commercial microwave purchased from a reputable brand should last between three to five years, or longer.

“Regular cleaning and servicing are key to ensure users get the maximum lifespan from their microwave,” he said.

“When using your microwave on a regular basis, one tip that shouldn’t be overlooked for getting the best from a microwave is regular cleaning. Keep the oven’s cavity and inner door clean of food spillage/deposits at all times. This will avoid cavity burn ups and prolong the life of its heart – the ‘magnetron’. This measure will also help the consistency and speed of reheat/cooking times.”

Ultimately, Brearley said operators must “always check the warranty offering available” prior to purchase.

A sound commercial decision

Microwave wattage is important. A domestic typically ranges from 800w to 1000w; a commercial starts from 1000w, ranging up to 1900w or more.

– RH Hall

A domestic microwave is designed for use at home; any other use will invalidate any warranty it is sold with. Another big difference is build quality.

  RH Hall.

Commercial units are sturdier and more powerful than domestic models. Most domestic microwaves have a turntable; commercial units do not.


To withstand repeated use and to prevent a dangerous drop off in power, commercial units often have two magnetrons – the units that produce power.