Panda Express Chinese Kitchen, an international fast-casual restaurant chain, presents hot prepared food on a visually appealing display line in holding wells designed to keep food at a safe temperature until serving. The restaurant group has used the standard method of holding food, which involves heated water or steam, but was seeking alternatives because the standard holding method uses a lot of energy and is labor-intensive to clean.
When waterless holding wells using induction technology became available, Panda Express, which is headquartered in Southern California, reached out to its utility, Southern California Edison (SCE). The restaurant group sought to investigate the energy-saving potential and evaluate whether the technology could fit into its operations. Additional considerations were holding temperatures, holding times, and cleanup procedures. SCE, the manufacturer of the induction equipment, and the local manufacturer’s representative together conducted a field test at a Panda Express store in Southern California.