Connecticut’s HAFSCO Teams Up With The Manursing Island Club To Update Kitchen Facility


When super storm Sandy struck on October 29, 2012 it created an incredible amount of damage to Manursing Island Club. Located directly on Long Island Sound; the Club was vulnerable to the 8 ft. tidal surge which inundated the entire clubhouse.

When Executive Chef John Krall came back to inspect his kitchen he quickly learned that all of his equipment would need to be replaced. This created an ideal opportunity to redesign the floor plan and increase efficiencies. After careful consideration and reference checks, Chef Krall called upon Tom Capobianco, and his company HAFSCO, to assist in the redesign.

“This is another example of how a Chef who was happy with a renovation project we had done at a well known club in Westchester, suggested us to Chef Krall,“ noted the firm's CEO Tom Capobianco, who after 42 years in the business still spends almost all of his time on location guiding the firm’s projects to completion.

“Nowadays, when you're designing a kitchen for a club, you have to keep in mind that they're not just serving a dining room. It's not just a single location that this kitchen is serving,” noted HAFSCO’s President Mario Capobianco. He notes that today, a club’s kitchen may have to serve numerous members and their guests at the club’s beach house, pool house or on a golf course at their halfway house. “You have to provide the flexibility for the culinary team, where, if they have multiple club functions going on at once, you don't want one function to bog down the kitchen.”

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The HAFSCO team was given a 90 day window to complete the Manursing Island Club project. Once again, with HAFSCO’s commitment to meet their customer’s needs, the new kitchen was ready on time for the club’s season. “The kitchen hadn't been renovated in over 60 years,” says Chef Krall. “It was an old kitchen, with 1950's doors and wooden walk-in doors. We had been wanting to do a new kitchen for 20 years.”

“Our ability to make a tight deadline like Manursing is the result of the different approach we bring to the business,” Tom Capobianco continued. “Many dealers are working hard to compete with the Internet, to sell equipment and supplies and doing warranty work. I had a different vision as we built our company to create innovative designs. We are very unusual in that we have our own team of service techs, installers and dishwashing technicians that can support the type of design and installation that we are offering to our customers, including Manursing.”

Tom and Chef Krall worked for several months designing the ideal floor plan to work within the existing building envelope. The team was aided by the initial input of local architectural firm Crozier Gedney Architects. Chef Krall and Tom spent hours discussing the most minute details, ranging from which direction specific doors opened, where electrical and plumbing stub outs would be located and many other details that only a true professional would be able to understand and address. But the flow was most important. “The biggest thing for us was really the flow of the kitchen, each person having its own dedicated work station,” said Chef Krall.

What made this particular upgrade challenging was not only the fact that meals for many different types of events had to be prepared in one kitchen, but also, for different locations at the iconic Westchester club.

As with many of the Connecticut based firm's designs, Tom Capobianco saw a different starting point. “As I walked through the space, the very first thing I saw was the need to create a design that would enable Chef John to have an office space that looked out onto the operation. I wanted to give him the control that he needed.”

“When I design, I'm thinking about where things belong and not the obstacles, so the initial challenge with the cooking line was that there were structural columns that had to move. My approach was to complete the design and then help them find a structural engineer that could accomplish it.

Throughout the entire process Chef Krall and Tom Capobianco, worked together. This relationship ensured that there was a clear understanding of what the finished kitchen would look like and how it would function. “Now we have a dedicated bakery station, a large dedicated prep station near our walk in boxes and a dedicated pot washing station,” Krall added. Every aspect of the kitchen now has its own dedicated space, its own place for cooking, prepping, baking, warewashing and service,” he says. “We've opened up everything. It's like a different kitchen.”

The next challenge was to create a design that could easily handle deliveries. “I did that by designing the wall with a 135° angle at one end of the space. We then created a hot line with a double stack combi-oven down at the opposite end so that we could seamlessly expand the line into the Garde Manger station, which in turn helped the flow of the wait staff within the kitchen during peak operation,” Capobianco explained. “The flow that Tom and his team created were spot on,” Chef Krall added. 

The Club's General Manager Tom Cherniavsky concluded: “In the end, we have created a kitchen that our Chef and our entire team is proud of. Chef’s from other clubs come to visit and see how we have transformed an outdated floor plan into a very attractive and efficient one. We would not have been able to envision this new space without the professional assistance of HAFSCO.”

“What I'm proud of is that we were able to meet the challenge and bring it in on time and on budget,” Tom Capobianco concluded. “The pleasure of this job was really all mine. From the staff at Manursing Island Club, the architects and the general contractor, you couldn’t ask for a better group of people to work with.”