We just look for really good equipment that can deliver fantastic food.” It’s a simple mantra but one that has served Armend Aljo well in his role as procurement manager at the highly acclaimed Oakman Inns, a collection of award-winning country pubs set up managing director Peter Borg-Neal. Based mainly throughout the Home Counties, the last few years have seen Oakman expand at an impressive rate, with a trio of new Inns launching earlier this year to take its estate to 13 sites.
With a food menu specialising in British classics, comfort foods and Italian staples, it was clear from the outset that the chain’s kitchens would need to be well-equipped to deal with the variety and volume of dishes served to customers. Each opening that the company carries out reinforces just how important it is to have the correct equipment.
“It doesn’t have to be the most expensive either. The two main factors that influence our buying decisions have to be quality and service, and a balance of cost and what we need for the business to function at its best,” says Armend. Oakman Inns has certainly found a winning formula by specifying a range of kit that has proved itself over a long period of time and delivered the quality it demands. One of its flagship appliances is the Josper Grill, which the chain has put to good effect to create a sense of theatre in its open kitchens.
Like any fast-moving foodservice chain, Oakman is well aware of the dangers of resting on its laurels and this goes for the effectiveness of its kitchens, too. The past year has seen the company make some significant investments in improving the quality of its fridges, introducing induction ovens and installing new fryers. At the bar and coffee service, meanwhile, it has introduced state-of-the-art coffee-making equipment. It is all part of the strategy to keep customers returning for more.
“The two main factors that influence our buying decisions have to be quality and service”