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Building A Restaurant When You Can’t Afford A Ventilation Hood

Posted by on 8/16/2015

There are many expenses opening a new restaurant can incur, and to first-time owners these can sometimes come as a big shock. For instance, one of the largest purchases that new owners aren’t always prepared for is the hood system In many cases this several-thousand-dollar item can make or break your budget. So what about operating a restaurant kitchen without the hood?

Here’s some more words of wisdom from John Eric Smith, Mr. J.E.S. himself, on how you can still legally operate a restaurant if the expense of  a hood system is just too great for your finances:

Building A Restaurant When You Can’t Afford A Hood

So you want to go into the restaurant business? I am the man you want to talk to. Years of experience in the restaurant equipment field; I sell it, I repair it and I answer questions related to almost anything you need to know about restaurants… except for smallwares, that’s my wife’s field. I learn something new almost every day and I have many, many contacts to find out the answer if I don’t know. Now your impression of me is “he must be full of himself” as us southern folks say. Not really. There have been several mistakes along the 15 year path that I will not forget. One of the hardest things to swallow is, “I really have to pay that much for a hood system?” Yes, you do!!

When people come into my showroom and want to go into the business of serving food to the public my first question is “what’s your menu?” Most of the time it’s short orders: hamburgers, fries, a grilled chicken sandwich, etc. In South Carolina we have DHEC, “Department of Health and Environmental Control,” and they dictate what you may serve without a hood system. At around $800 to $1,000 a running foot the hood can get pricey. So you need a 10' hood? Ok that will be around $9,000. Now I see you wince because you had no idea you were going to spend $9,000 just to start. The thought is now going through your head “I’m not spending that!” Now I see you’re sincere and have a good idea so my next statement is “Why don’t you think of something you can make that will bring people in, get some cash flow and then look at a hood?”

You can bake without a hood as long as it is baked goods like cakes, cookies, pies and bread. Finding prepackaged foods is easy these days and folks like US Foodservice or Sysco will be more than happy to show you, and even let you sample, some of their products. Frying is out! NO FRYING!!  So lets make a mean sandwich and give the option of putting it in the panini press with some of the best meats around and serve it with the freshest bread that we bake on site. I bet if you search for a different sandwich spread that would make your sandwich stand out above the rest that would get people coming. Salad’s; people love a good salad. How many women would come to your place at lunch if they could get a great salad at a good price? Ok this sounds like a place I would go to for a quick lunch, right? Not so fast. If you could find or make a great muffin, croissant, bear claw or anything else you could bake in your convection oven and throw in a coffee bar you have breakfast. You’ve got breakfast and lunch covered, but what about dinner? I have a friend here in Greenwood that has figured the no hood scenario out better than anyone I know. Howard Corley owns Howard’s On Main and in the evening he sells beer and wine to the office crowd getting off of work. Folks will stop by for a sandwich and a beer or something with a glass of wine. Some states will even let you have a rotisserie for chicken or an Alto Shaam for prime rib without a hood but check first.  There is so much you can do without a hood! it just requires a little thought and alot of work. Welcome to the restaurant business! Want to buy some equipment?

Breakfast: muffins, croissant, bagel with different cream cheese, Belgium waffle and GREAT COFFEE

Lunch: assorted sandwiches hot or cold, potato salad, Cole slaw and some of these sweet potato chips we found, hot dogs, salads

Dinner: Salads, ” salad bar”  Rotisserie chicken, Prime rib , baked potato, Sandwiches and Wine and beer after 5pm

*States have different rulings so be sure to check with the health department before setting your menu.

peter mazzara
Date 5/20/2017
id like to know if commercial grade oven roasters require any kind if venting in chicago
JES Restaurant Equipment ~
Date 5/22/2017
Peter - Normally they do, yes. It would be best if you check with your local fire marshal since vent hoods are specific to each situation and environment. There are certain factors that can make them required depending on what is being cooked or even the age of the building that you're putting the unit in. :-)
Lynn Nguyen
Date 5/26/2017
I'm planning to open a shaved ice and crepe shop. Do I need ventilation for my crepe maker? I saw few shop that doesn't need it. Thank you.
JES Restaurant Equipment ~
Date 5/29/2017
Lynn Nguyen - if you are referring to the small, round griddle plate that you put batter on to make crepes; to our knowledge, those units do not need ventilation. But we always recommend that you contact your local fire inspector since vent hoods are specific to each situation and environment.
Date 6/14/2017
Hi I might be part of a team to open a wine bar with appetizers and small plates in Alameda County, California. Would induction burners be ok? Technically you could cook anything on there but we wouldn't use it for searing or sauteing, mostly for boiling and reducing liquids like sauces and jams. Also are there full size ovens that are ok or just something like a turbochef i5? Sous vide circulators shouldn't be a problem right? We've talked to our health department but they want us to send them the appliances we are thinking about and they will tell us by the specs whether it's acceptable or not. Trying to find a baseline so I know what kinds to search for. Thank you! It's so hard to find resources on this type of "type 2" kitchen online. You have been helpful! <br><br><br> <h4>JES Replied</h4> <b>You would need to contact the health department in your county, laws concerning this vary from state to state. In SC anything that creates a grease or steam vapor must be under a hood system </b><br> Thanks,<br><br> J. Eric Smith
Frank Savino
Date 6/19/2017
I am a Italian Pastry Chef since I have been Knee High to a Grass hopper (Family Owned 3 Bakeries)..I have always Baked for Retail/Wholesale Distribution using Convection Ovens (No Hood Required in this Location) * I am moving to North Myrtle Beach, SC... Hopefully this Year 2017 * My Question is : Do I Need a Hood System (No Deep Frying or Oil, etc. Used) to Bake ( possibly only Pet Treats, have already been doing so for many years.) Want to wholesale or and retail in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina ?? * Thank you in Advance for your Reply. Frank <br><br><br> <h4>JES Replied</h4> <b>The last word I had on this was that if you were doing baked goods , rolls , cakes pastries a hood would not be needed but is is a good idea to consult DHEC in SC in order to get the official word . </b>
Date 6/22/2017
I bought a used Imperial CICV gas convection oven from a bakery that went out of business (Bolingbrook, IL). I was going to install it in the shop but the village inspector and Fire Marshall (Lemont, IL) can't decide if I do or do not need a hood/vent. Old owner says she did not require one in the village she operated in. My village told me to check with Imperial, which I did, and they told me to check with the village! The main use for this oven is muffins and scones. Thoughts? If this model is not suitable without a hood/vent, do you have any recommendations of one that is? <br><br><br> <h4>JES Replied</h4> <b>Bakery goods are usually excluded from being under a hood but each county / village should have it own determination . </b> <br><br>
Date 8/20/2017
Hello. I am opening a shop on the first floor of a building. Trying to wrap my head around where the exhaust fan will go since I won't have access to the roof? <br><br> <h4>JES Reply</h4> <b>County and state will need to be contacted. A exhaust fan in SC can be on a vertical wall 10 foot off of the ground not to be hung over a human walkway. Also the return air should be a minimum of 10 foot away from the exhaust. </b> <br><br> Hope this helped.
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