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Deli Cases and Bakery Display Cases Buying Guide

A refrigerated bakery case or deli case can be a great way to increase sales in just about any food service operation, including coffee shops, convenience stores, grocery stores, and restaurants. Deli cases and bakery cases often look very similar from the outside, so how do you know which one is right for you? This guide will go over their types and features so you can choose the best unit for your business.
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What Is a Deli Case?

A deli case maintains low temperatures to keep meats, cheeses, pasta salads, and other deli items chilled and at safe serving temps. They can also be used at convenience stores to merchandise bottled drinks, sushi, yogurt parfaits, pre-made salads, wraps, sandwiches, and grab-and-go snacks.

Deli cases have three service types: full service, open-air self service, and self service. Full service cases only provide rear access so that employees can serve customers from behind the counter. Open-air self service cases make it easy for customers to browse your selection of packaged deli or bakery items and are perfect for convenience stores, markets, and grocery stores. Self-service cases feature a lift-up front glass pane that allows customers to view the product without obstruction and serve themselves.

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What Is a Bakery Case?

A bakery display case is an essential piece of bakery equipment that increases the visibility of your cakes, pies, pastries, and other goods. Great for bakeries, cafes, and diners, it protects your goods from airborne contaminants while allowing complete visibility to help boost impulse sales. 

Bakery cases come in either dry or refrigerated models depending on the items you are serving. There are also three service types to choose from: dual service, full service, and self service. Dual service cases allow for front and rear access to simultaneously merchandise to-go items and your protected treats, while full service cases only provide rear access so that employees can serve customers from behind the counter. Self service cases provide easy access to customers and are great for hotels and cafeterias.

Display Case Refrigeration Types

Refrigerated display cases like these use two basic types of refrigeration: forced air or gravity coil. The best type for you depends on the items you want to display in the case.

Forced Air

As their name implies, forced air systems rely on fans to circulate cold air throughout the cabinet to keep food contents cool. These cabinets are most often used for bakery products, prepackaged products, and some deli applications. It's important to note that because of this air movement, the products you are displaying can dry out if they aren't covered or are left in the case for too long.

Items on our website that use this method are mainly called "Refrigerated Bakery Display Cases" or a similar variation of that.

Gravity Coil

Gravity coil systems boast a refrigeration coil at the top of the cabinet that allows the cool air to "drop" down over the food. These types of display cases are best for raw meat, seafood, salads, and other deli products where you don't want the drying effect of constantly circulating air. Gravity coil cases tend to be less expensive than forced air cases.

Items on our website that use this method are mainly called "Refrigerated Deli Cases" or a similar variation of that.

What Do I Want to Display In the Food Case?

This chart provides a simplified breakdown of which menu items are best for each refrigeration type to help you choose the best display case for your business!

Food Item
Forced Air
Gravity Coil
Danishes and other Pastries
Raw Meat
Pasta Salad
Deli Meat

Display Case Purchasing Considerations

Once you've decided which type of display case is right for you, you will want to narrow down your choices by considering the features and options of each case.

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Don't think of size just in terms of how much floor space you have for a case. You might have room for a large case, but if the majority of products you want to display have a short shelf life and/or a quick turnaround time, you can often use a smaller case and save space, energy, and money!

Some manufacturers offer "low profile" versions of their cases, which bring all the features and benefits of the larger size in a compact design, which is ideal for convenience stores and other places where space is a concern.

Be sure to carefully view the specification sheet of the case to make sure you can meet the clearance requirements for intake and exhaust air. Since many of these cases are also quite large, you also want to look at the measurements carefully to make sure the case will fit through your doorway.

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Helps maximize the visibility of all the products in the case

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Come in either straight glass or curved glass models

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Lighted interiors help make your products look their best

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End Panels

Make your case appear full and bigger

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Typically come in either black, white, or silver

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Curved Glass

Some models have front glass that tilt up or out for easy cleaning

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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