Benefits of Walk in Cooler Vs Reach-In for Restaurants

Benefits of Walk in Cooler Vs Reach-In for Restaurants

Are you considering opening a new restaurant or renovating the already existing kitchen in your restaurant? If the answer is somewhat yes, then you have landed on this page because obviously, you are looking for new refrigeration and commercial walk-in cooler options for your kitchen. There are a lot of options when it comes to refrigerators for restaurants, starting from refrigerated prep tables to under counter refrigeration drawers and even display cases all of these options are highly available in the market for you to choose from.

Refrigeration is considered a key technology that is very important for every restaurant. Restaurant refrigeration can be seen in two main types that are offered by refrigeration and HVAC companies:

  • Reach-in
  • Walk-in

In this blog, we have shared a look at these two types and how to choose the right one for your restaurant.

Walk-Ins vs. Reach-Ins

What is a Walk in Cooler

Walk-in coolers are basically refrigerated cooling rooms that have a heavy steel door in them. The refrigeration system is somewhat similar to any air conditioning system, and it may also use air filters that are similar to HVAC filter products. These stainless-steel shelves can be used to maximize the entire store which is very important for any restaurant to function properly because obviously, one cannot install more than one walk-in to a restaurant to store everything. A walk-in freezer is typically installed in an adjoining room with its own sealed door.

Because of the big size and more space, walk-in refrigerators are considered the best option for restaurants with a lot of space in them. Storing the ingredients in bulk would help in reducing the trips to the market and it may help in saving a lot of money when securing supplies for your restaurant.

Benefits of Walk in Cooler

Here we have listed some major benefits of walk in cooler.

  • Walk-ins can be customized in order to fit them in nearly any space that is available
  • Walk-ins have open layouts that help in the easy organization
  • In case walk-ins are installed outdoor of the kitchen it helps in removing extra heat and noise from the kitchen
  • Walk-ins tend to support a lot of bulk storage, which would help in saving a lot of money on deliveries
  • Walk-ins use less power when they are used instead of multiple reach-ins for the storage purposes
  • Walk-ins can be placed indoors as well as outdoors both

Cons of Walk in Cooler

  • Walk-in costs more initially
  • Walk-in refrigerators demand professional installation and can not be done on your own
  • In order to install a walk-in refrigerator, more preparation area is required
  • Climate and seismic activity are considerations in some regions
  • Walk-ins may require some extra equipment, such as strip doors, air curtains, and shelving
  • Some have long lead times for customization
  • Reach-ins are typically still needed for use with a walk-in

Reach-In Refrigeration

Reach-in refrigerators are the kind of individual units that are available in a large variety of sizes as well as configurations. Reach-in refrigerators usually also have stainless steel doors and enclosures, but that is with the vinyl or stainless-steel interiors. The shelves in the reach-in refrigerators can be designed to any height that is required by the user. Some reach-in refrigerators also have that kind of doors that has insulated glass but they are usually used in convenience stores, they also look good in open kitchens where the customers actually see the products by themselves.

Because of its smaller footprint, it makes reach-in refrigerators the best option for small kitchens. Some of the models are designed in such a way that they can be installed beneath counters and workspaces, which can help in maximizing the storage space. You can also have these reach-in refrigerators installed in key locations around the kitchen which would help you to improve staff efficiency. Reach-in refrigerators can also make changing the kitchen layout easier.


  • Reach-in refrigerators take less space in your kitchen, due to the compact under-counter models that are readily available in the market.
  • The good part is reach-ins come with many shelving options
  • ADA models are also available
  • You can reach your required ingredient conveniently with reach-in refrigerators.
  • Most of the models of reach-ins are more affordable as compared to walk-ins
  • Its installation is quite easy
  • ENERGY STAR models are also available


  • Most of the models in reach-in refrigerators have only limited customization options
  • Mostly they are available in one to three sections only
  • Most reach-in refrigeration is self-contained, which adds heat and noise to the room
  • Shorter average lifespans than those typical of walk-ins

Installation Requirements for Walk-Ins vs Reach-Ins

A lot of people including yourself would think that a walk-in cooler would be a beneficial addition to any restaurant but it definitely demands more installation time as compared to a reach-in unit. It also demands a level floor for its installation, and in case it is not placed on concrete flooring, you may have to construct an insulated floor for it from the scratch and that would take a lot of your time and effort as well as money. The space your facility has dictates which size unit you can install; however, you can install walk-ins outside, which is ideal for receiving shipments. Near their rear entrance, a lot of commercial kitchens have a walk-in cooler that also requires additional considerations for weather, and all that depends on the location and climate of that area. While smaller walk-ins can be installed by the operator, a lot of these large units would demand a professional installation team, which would definitely add an extra upfront cost for its installation.

Whereas if we talk about reach-ins they are comparatively a lot simpler to add to your kitchen. As long as there’s a power source and enough floor space, a reach-in refrigerator can be installed almost anywhere in your kitchen as long as it’s indoors. Usually, these types of refrigerators can handle being installed on slightly uneven floors, as long as the adjustable feet are able to make up the difference.

What Should I Choose?

Well, what would suit you and your restaurant kitchen better totally depends on your needs. If we generally say, walk-in coolers are relatively higher-quality as compared to reach-ins, but also keep in mind that they take up a lot more space and can not be stored near the kitchen due to their noise. In case having only walk-in coolers were an option that is definitely not being a restaurant owner no matter how big or small it would be, only then this option would probably be your best one, but since this is unfortunately not feasible for pretty much any restaurant so it’s a no situation for you. The easy access to a refrigerator that actually is in the kitchen is very important for daily workplace operations. Without having a reach-in refrigerator at your restaurant, waiting time would definitely increase, employees would start to dislike their jobs, and everyone would (rightfully) begin to complain and nobody would want that to run a successful business.

The best option here would be to get one of each: a walk-in cooler that can be placed outside your restaurant and store bulk shipments of food, and a readily accessible reach-in.

Reach-in refrigeration might be a good option for you if:

  • In case your kitchen has less space. Reach-in refrigerators and freezers are available in a wide range of sizes and customizations. Some of the models are even compact enough to be installed beneath counters or even workspaces. So, in that case, if your restaurant has a smaller kitchen, you will still be able to find a unit that can easily fit in that space.
  • In case your ease and convenience are your topmost priority. Since reach-in refrigerators and freezers have smaller footprints, many kitchens may have multiple units at key locations, so any member of the staff can quickly grab the required ingredients without having to venture far from their stations or search through a large walk-in unit.
  • If you value flexibility. Smaller and easier to install than walk-ins, reach-in refrigerators and freezers can be positioned wherever needed most within the kitchen. Reach-in units are also simpler to move if the layout of your kitchen changes in the future since many include casters.

Walk-in refrigeration might be a good option for you if:

  • In case your restaurant serves a large number of guests at the same time. Few things are more irritating to guests than ordering a meal only to see that the kitchen does not have the ingredients already in stock. This can also ruin the restaurant’s reputation. All the Restaurants with aloof footfall must keep large amounts of necessary perishables in the kitchen at all times to avoid running out of ingredients and being embarrassed. An appropriately sized walk-in unit will give enough space to do so in an organized fashion.
  • In case you have specific cold storage requirements. Unlike reach-in units, which come in standard sizes, walk-ins are more customizable, so you can create a unit well suited for your kitchen’s unique needs.
  • If you plan to buy your perishables in a larger quantity. Buying in a larger quantity can be a great way to save money when securing supplies for your restaurant. However, it also requires plenty of storage space as well. Walk-in units offer the extra room necessary to keep those perishables fresh until they’re ready to be used.

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