Last September we opened a cafe as part of a new critical access hospital. We were spoiled with a great budget allowing us to get some of the best equipment on the market. Sometimes having enough budget is the problem.
Our Fancy, Expensive, Crappy Toaster…
…shall remain nameless to protect the innocent. Being a small kitchen we’d always found 4-slice toasters to handle our menu without being a problem. The new space was spec’d with a cool, $450 unit that looked great, had a bagel side, a sliced bread side and didn’t use traditional coils. I figured it had to be better…right? We also planned to put the toaster on a different counter than the design drawing showed.
Unpacking the box we realized that we hadn’t asked about electrical requirements. The toaster required 220v and the kitchen was built with only one spare 220v outlet. We had to place the toaster exactly where the design dictated because I overlooked that when it was early enough to change it. Not a big deal we plugged it in and ran it empty a number of times to burn off the “new equipment fumes.”
Weeks later we were still trying to get the settings right on this thing. Ultimately, it does not toast a whole slice of bread. Instead, the fancy no-coil system toasts a nice brown square in the center of the bread. This leaves a one-inch border of clearly non-toasted bread around three of the four sides. Not only that, but it’s slow. It takes at least 25% longer to toast than a traditional coil toaster.
Waring to the rescue
Fed up, I shopped around and it was difficult to find commercial toasters under $250. Through my normal suppliers I was looking at 1-2 weeks before delivery and $200 minimum. Falling back on Amazon I found this normal, no frills 4-slice unit from Waring. It meets all fire and health code requirements. It even works in standard outlets so we could now move the toaster anywhere we want.
It’s a $315 unit that was on sale for $167. Two days later it showed up on our doorstep and worked great. It’s fast and toasts even. We loved it enough that I bought a second unit from Amazon for my other kitchen. This time it was marked down to $138! At the time of this writing it’s back up to $175, but that’s still a good price for a commercial grade 4-slice toaster.
Update: Amazon shows some negative reviews for longevity. We’ve only had these units for a month so I can’t comment on that. But the truth is I’d rather buy a unit that does what we want for one year, than one that only kind of does what we want for 10 years.