The Cobo Center

The Cobo Center in downtown Detroit wanted to become an industry leader as it sought to improve its image. To reach this goal, it chose to make a capital investment and updated its kitchen equipment with a plate retherm banqueting system to increase the efficiency of its service as well as retain, if not improve, the quality of its food output. 

With this goal in mind, the convention center invested in multiple, complementary pieces of Alto-Shaam equipment. The purchase of Alto-Shaam’s rack management system with Combitherm® ovens, Quickchiller™ blast chillers and CombiMate® mobile warmers enabled the Cobo Center to experience significant labor savings and allows staff to start the food preparation much farther in advance without sacrificing quality. 

“I know that we can precisely cook all the food and then cool it down quickly after cooking it in a moist environment so the food is not going to dry out and its gonna retain its natural flavors and colors,” said Executive Sous Chef Matthew Zatirka.

With this system, the Cobo Center decreased preparation time substantially. The center previously used a conveyer belt system to prepare food. This process was time-consuming, and could only produce 500 plates an hour. With the addition of the rack management system to the conveyer belt system, the kitchen staff was able to increase its output to serve 468 meals every 10 minutes. The speed of service involving plate retherm allowed the Cobo Center to decrease labor costs by a substantial 53%, according to Zatirka.

There are additional service quality benefits associated with the new preparation system.  “Because we’re plating a day ahead of time, I can make sure my cooks are being really meticulous and neat and I can literally inspect every single plate,” said Zatirka.

The center ensures better food for guests through regular quality checks, meeting the Cobo Center’s goal of improving its image while increasing service and quality. Overall, the Cobo Center is well on its way to achieving its goal of being an industry leader. By increasing its productivity, it has already seen changes in how its business runs as well as how satisfied guests are. “The quality and freshness of food as well as the service expectations have been able to retain these guests and keep them coming back” said Banquet Manager Michelle Oldham.

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