UK: Space-saving refrigeration from Precision has helped turn a derelict former London public toilet into a viable Italian cafe and restaurant.

With the pressure on retail space in London at an all-time high, finding new sites for restaurants is a problem. Now one enterprising restaurateur has taken things to the extreme by opening up in ‘the smallest room in the house’.

Festa sul Prato, meaning ‘a feast in the meadow’, has recently opened in a former derelict toilet block in Folkestone Gardens, a small park in Deptford, South London.

Needless to say, the kitchen is tiny: prep, cooking, cleaning and storage are fitted into just 15m² – and there has to be room for two chefs and a kitchen porter to work effectively. It was designed and installed by Peterborough-based Catering Equipment Solutions (CES).

When it came to the refrigeration, space-saving was essential, so owner Martin Hoenle and CES chose Precision’s slimline counters and innovative, individually refrigerated drawers. “The Precision equipment helped us optimise the space,” says CES managing director Anna McNamara.

“Finding a location in London is very difficult,” said restaurant owner Martin Hoenle. “This whole area is being regenerated. We are in at the start, and hope to be a key part of that regeneration. When we found it, the toilet block was totally derelict, without even a roof, but we could see its potential.”

The kitchen includes two VUBC121 dual temperature, individually refrigerated drawers, stacked on each other, with a worktop on the top one. The drawer size is GN2/1 and the maximum pan depth is 180mm. The net usable volume is 62 litres, while the external dimensions are 1100mm wide by 675mm deep and 410mm high.

In independent tests, carried out by RD&T, the latest version of the VUBC121 drawer is said to have scored ‘A’ when operating as a fridge and ‘B’ when being used as a freezer (EN16825 Climate Test Class 4).

The two Precision MCU223-UDD counters supplied measure 1345mm wide by 520mm deep by 865mm high and have a usable storage volume of 120 litres. Designed to accept GN 2/3 pans, their front-breathing and -venting system means they can be fitted into the tightest space, with no side, rear, top or bottom ventilation required.

Precision drawers and counters are constructed in stainless steel throughout and feature advanced iCool controllers with oversize, easy-read LCD screens. They use R290 refrigerant and zero-ODP, high performance, injected polyurethane insulation.