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 an Imperial IR-6:
Another interesting option is the Garland G36 (spec sheet). (I couldn’t find a good picture of one.) Among my favorites, for its awesome firepower (33,000 BTU burners!) and thoughtful design (eg, it’s easy to remove and clean the grates and burner bodies), these can be had, from restaurant supply stores, for the low low price of USD 2,000. 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 USD 4,000. Plus ongoing repair expenses. You’re really better off either installing a normal gas range (you know, your USD 800 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. <sigh>
The closest thing to a real 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):
- My restaurant range ROCKS! – installing a Montague Grizzly – sadly no longer manufactured
- a FAQ about home installations, followed by the story of installing a Comstock-Castle range
Comstock-Castle also publish their own FAQ about home installation of their stoves.
And, to round things out, here is a Comstock-Castle F330: