HAFSCO was founded over 80 years ago. Originally, the company supplied restaurant goods and equipment, but has since grown to offer a variety of services to the industry including consulting, sales design, service department, warewashing department, country club logo imprints. Thomas Capobianco, President of HAFSCO, is quite familiar with challenging kitchen projects. He has designed kitchens from restaurants to country clubs and everything in between. When the renowned Westchester Country Club sought to update their kitchen, Capobianco was undoubtedly the man for the job.
About one year ago, Capobianco went to Westchester Country Club to meet Mr. Robert James and Paul Brock, the club’s General Manager. Tim Clark, the contractor, I previously suggested getting HAFSCO involved with the project. Previously, Capobianco had worked on numerous other clubs, such as Apawanis Country Club, Winged Foot Golf Club and Glen Head Country Club, to name a few. Considering the firm’s great reputation within the industry, HAFSCO was a very strong candidate for the job. Initially, Capobianco was told that the club was interested in purchasing some new equipment, and possibly redesigning some aspects of the kitchen. “We had some ideas and tentative plans of what we wanted to do. We were already enhancing the grillroom and the bar; so I knew it would be necessary to update the kitchen in order to properly service the larger volume of membership demand and usage. With two dining rooms, two bars, two restaurants, plus outdoor space we have a considerable amount of work to do in the kitchen,” said Brock. Upon inspecting the kitchen, Capobianco explained that a redesign would not be a simple task. “The hood was in poor condition. The kitchen had three different points of egress in need of enhancements. In addition, they wanted to serve beer on tap in a room that was essentially inaccessible for the lines. Improving the functionality of this kitchen to meet Westchester Country Club’s high standards was an extensive job. We really needed to change the flow of the kitchen,” said Capobianco.
Once HAFSCO was officially brought on, Capobianco began by presenting ten different designs. “The predicament that we faced was finding a way to serve the two restaurants out of one kitchen,” Brock explained. After analyzing and comparing the various options, Brock and his colleagues settled on the design that would provide the best scenario. The key to the design was crating an optimal solution to the egress issues. “This project was complicated. The egress problems stemmed from the fact that the club gets as much activity through the terrace doors as it does from the new grill room. We had to move some items and cut down some custom wine refrigerators in order to make the kitchen line longer. In addition, we had to expand the kitchen slightly into the private dining area to allow access for all of the kitchen equipment that I wanted to install,” explained Capobianco. In order to execute the most favorable design, there were many other adjustments to be made. Capobianco shifted the doors to create a larger waiter’s station, installed retractables, and added a refrigeration rack. His team ran about four thousand feet of refrigeration lines, and spent three months piping.
The new kitchen at Westchester Country Club is almost exclusively an a la carte operation. Capobianco installed a twenty-seven foot hood to accommodate the massive flow of golfers, tennis players, and regular diners. “I always like to designate sections for a la carte and for catering and banquets when designing a kitchen. The focus of this kitchen however, was not banquets, so I needed to consider the heavy emphasis on a la carte,” said Capobianco.
It is also important to note that Westchester Country Club offers breakfast, so Capobianco made sure his design provided the necessary accommodations. “We set up a breakfast cooking area, that would allow the chefs to seamlessly transition from breakfast to lunch, and then on to dinner,” he said. Capobianco had a couple of burners installed, as well as a griddle and plancha combination next to an oven in the breakfast line. The one end of the kitchen is anchored with a double Blodgett convection oven. Further down the line, Capobianco strategically placed the combi oven near the garde manger, so it would be out of the way of the high activity and heavy traffic during peak hours. The careful planning and clever design that went into the execution has significantly lessened the egress issues, allowing for an unimpeded flow.
In order to bring Capobianco’s design into reality, almost every piece of equipment had to be moved. “The layout of the old kitchen was rather disjointed. We had the garde manger on one side, and the hot line on the other side. As a result, the expediter had to jump back and forth. It was very inefficient. We had to actually move the line,” described Brock. The dishwasher was also relocated from its original place near the terrace room. “When you have three points of egress, you need to have a universal spot, and that’s very difficult to accomplish. I had to place the dishwasher in a location that was accessible from all three points so drop-offs could be made as needed,” explained Capobianco. In addition to the dishwasher, the garde manger was transferred to a totally different area. Even the hood was repositioned. “When I do the drawings, the first thing I do is block certain areas. Next, I map the flow and study it, so that I can have a complete understanding of what needs to be moved or changed in order to achieve my vision,” said Capobianco.
The painstaking attention to detail that went into this project is evident. Even the doors leading into the kitchen were carefully considered. “The entry door and the exit door are actually opposite. We did that intentionally. It might seem counterintuitive, but the design serves a very important function. We wanted the flow of the kitchen to allow the servers to walk the line and exit, and enter with the pantry on that side. We knew that such a nontraditional layout was unusual, but it’s working out wonderfully,” explained Brock. The kitchen doorway was even shifted so that the traffic would be led directly out to the terrace.
Brock and Capobianco teamed up to create a new prep kitchen downstairs. The basement functions as a prep kitchen ad a storage space. Specifically, there is a dry goods pantry and a liquor storage room. The (4) walk-ins were installed and can be found downstairs. In addition, the chef de cuisine’s office is located on the lower level. Capobianco’s design has also allowed for the Hafsco installation department to install the Perlick beer system. Previously, beer on tap was only available on one side. The kegs are downstairs, so the lines had to be rearranged.
HAFSCO was also able to help Westchester Country Club cut the high costs of traditional bottled water. The installation of Vero Water system has enabled the club to pour chilled flat, sparkling, and ambient water on demand. The five-step process filters and bottles local water on premises at a fraction of the cost of traditional bottled water and helps the club drastically decrease its carbon footprint.
Capobianco and Brock tackled a complicated task, and have achieved quite an accomplishment. While reflecting on the project, Brock offered some sage counsel, “Leave yourself enough planning time. Redesigning the kitchen was almost an afterthought since our original focus was on remodeling the bar and the restaurant. Fortunately, we made our deadline, but I thing planning ahead is crucial.” With a celebrated reputation established long ago, Westchester Country Club has once again reached a new echelon.
To learn more about HAFSCO and the industry experience they brought to Westchester Country Club, please visit their website.