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Types of Hot Food Displays

There’s a lot to love about fresh, hot food. Nothing can make a customer reach for their wallet faster than attractive hot food displays that allow them to see and smell delicious dishes or snacks. But it’s not enough for the displays to just look good. They need to be functional; hot enough to keep the food safe and ready to eat, but not so hot that customers could accidentally burn themselves. They also need to be electrically efficient enough to be able to be plugged in and not burn out a system in place. Luckily, there are lots of options to choose from, depending on what corner of the food service industry you work in.

Grocery Stores

In a grocery store or supermarket setting, you’ll use hot food displays for rotisserie chickens, and hot-and-ready snacks like fried foods or pizza slices. There are two basic design choices. First, there are island displays which stand alone without needing to be anchored. There can be square-shaped with heat lamps on top. Or, for a fancier presentation, a multilevel round island with heat lamps built into the shelves can give customers 360-degree access to items.

The other major design for grocery stores is end-cap or wall hot food displays, which are anchored to either an aisle or counter. An advantage of this design is it’s easier to stagger and stack shelves and line up more product vertically.


Many of the same principles apply to hot food cases in restaurant settings. The main differences are that the food will likely not be packaged, or at least not packaged for transport. Chances are that the displays will be more permanent. The two biggest concerns that are more unique to restaurants than grocery stores are temperature maintenance, ability to be cleaned easily, and aesthetic appeal. Yes, these are important in grocery stores as well, but the stakes are a little higher in a restaurant setting.

Schools, Hospitals, and Other Cafeterias

Cafeterias are essentially restaurants in spaces within other businesses or organizations. In a school setting, a long, buffet-style island or tall end-cap will work well. In a hospital, it’s essential to make food reachable to people who may be older or have limited mobility. It’s also critical to have tough, well-placed sneeze and breath guards.

With temperature regulating technology and a wide range of designs, hot food displays can help move lots of products in your restaurant or store. Simple variations of a few basic designs make it possible to customize them to any need or space.