A true (commercial) restaurant range is a stainless steel, heavily-built behemoth, designed to be simple, robust, reliable, and hot. They are, in my mind, things of beauty, and even though I have no place to put one, I’m suffering from a sort of obsession with them.

They have removable open burners – rather than the sealed burners found on residential ranges – and the burners are much hotter: generally 24,000 to 33,000 BTU, versus the 9,000 to 12,000 BTU on residential ranges. When you are searing, boiling water, or cooking in a wok, this extra power means a lot!

Here is an example. This is a Comstock-Castle F330:

Comstock-Castle F330

Another interesting option is the Garland G36 (spec sheet). (I couldn’t find a good picture of one.) When Julia Child and her husband Paul returned to America from France she bought a used Garland range, which she loved. She called it “the big Garland”. I think it was a 48- or 60-inch wide version. That’s one cool thing about restaurant ranges: they are “modular” – the tops can be a combination of open burners, griddles, and “hot tops” – and the frames come in multiple-of-12-inch widths from 24 to 72. Also, ranges wider than 36 inches have two ovens!

Though the prices seem to have roughly doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic, it used to be possible to purchase a basic six burner restaurant range – like the Garland G36 – for about 2,000 US dollars. To put that price into perspective, “pro-style” consumer ranges from the likes of DCS, Dacor, Viking, Wolf (the residential spinoff of the real Wolf, that is) – most of which are overpriced, unreliable, and underpowered – start at more like 4,000 US dollars. Plus ongoing repair expenses. You’re really better off either installing a normal inexpensive residential gas range (you know, your 800 dollar Kenmore special) or buying a groovy “antique” range (from the 1930s to 1950s), many of which have burners in the 15,000 BTU range.

Unfortunately, Garland really doesn’t want you to install one in your house. However, this is not universal among restaurant range manufacturers. Comstock-Castle’s FAQ about home installation of their stoves says that it’s perfectly fine, as long as care is taken in the installation, with proper ventilation and clearance to combustible surfaces.

The closest thing to a restaurant range that is designed for residential installation is a BlueStar. Garland for several years sold residential versions of their restaurant ranges. When they decided to get out of the business in 1999 they sold their design to BlueStar. The name BlueStar refers to Garland’s signature star burner – though Garland’s ranges now have a much different (and more powerful) star burner than BlueStar’s!

But, like many wannabe – aka “professional-style” – ranges, the BlueStars are expensive and suffer from reliability problems. I read endless rants online about cracked ignitors and oven doors sticking shut – with semi-cooked Thanksgiving turkeys inside!

A true restaurant range has standing pilots, which are simple and reliable. Unfortunately, they waste fuel and produce (sometimes unwanted) heat. But if the pilots are left unlit, a thermocouple prevents gas from flowing, and the burners can be easily lit using a long-nosed propane lighter.

If you Google “residential installation restaurant range” or some variation thereof, you’re likely to come across loads of cooking and “house and garden” forums, all loaded with FUD about why not to do this: you’ll void your fire insurance, burn down the neighborhood, burn your children, interfere with Monarch butterfly migration, and destroy Western civilization (if such a thing exists)...

However! After wading through a swamp of FUD I found two rather compelling stories by people who ignored the naysaying and actually did it, and they’ll never go back to a “normal” range!

Here are their stories (and the ranges they installed):

And, to round things out, here is a Comstock-Castle F330-12B, a four-burner range with a twelve inch wide combination raised griddle and broiler:

Comstock-Castle F330-12B