The steamless warewasher – perfect for Victorian tunnels

Minotaur 3* pop-up restaurant goes for Winterhalter’s fast, efficient, easy to use (and steam-free) warewashers.   

The Minotaur must hold a record as one of the most unusual restaurant venues ever.  Sited in the labyrinthine Victorian tunnels under Waterloo station, it popped up for just two weeks in October 2011.  Having found their way through mazes hung with eye-popping artwork, customers ate three star Michelin food off tables made of old scaffolding planks. 

While the ambience was fun, rough and ready, spiced with a good whiff of decadence, the operation itself needed to be efficient and smooth, matching the quality of the food and drinks on offer.  When it came to selecting a provider of dish- and glasswashers, The Minotaur chose Winterhalter.

“As well as ensuring that the tableware was sparkling, we needed efficiency, ease of use and speed, all of which Winterhalter gave us,” says Dirk Duwaer of Pret a Diner, which ran The Minotaur.  “For example, the glasswashers are incredible – there was no need for staff to polish the glasses when they came out, they were sparkling and smear-free straight from the machine.  That saved us loads of time.”

Time and efficiency were key issues, since The Minotaur was packed – it was fully booked weeks before opening, with 240 covers a night, every night, plus a 40-seater private function room.  Then there were bars, a DJ and club, and a sushi bar…  That’s a lot of crockery and glassware, and staff had to learn how to deliver a three star Michelin operation in just a few days (Pret a Diner were able to take over the premises only one week before opening), so the warewashers’ easy, one-touch control was a real bonus.

For the main dishwasher Winterhalter supplied a GS502 Energy+.  This pass-through hood machine was ideal for the Minotaur: not only does it have a fast wash cycle and deliver superior wash results, it also has a heat exchanger that turns waste steam into energy to heat the incoming cold water.  It’s primarily an energy-saving feature (Energy+ reduces connected load by 6kW) but for The Minotaur the big plus was that it doesn’t produce any steam when the hood is opened, which is a huge benefit in terms of the working environment, especially when the warewash area is down a tunnel!

The main glasswasher was a Winterhalter UC undercounter unit, fitted with the new RoMatik ultra-compact reverse osmosis water treatment system.  This combination ensures that glasses don’t need hand polishing after washing (see editor’s notes).  A second UC glasswasher in the bar had the Winterhalter Energy heat exchanger, which cuts power consumption and virtually eliminates the problem of steam escaping into the back bar area.

Alongside dish- and glasswashers, Winterhalter’s sister company, Classeq, supplied an Eau de Vie on-site bottled water system.  The system filters and chills the mains water supply, taking out impurities, to produce either still or sparkling water that can be dispensed into stylish Eau de Vie branded bottles.  As well as giving The Minotaur an eco-friendly alternative to bottled mineral water, Eau de Vie cuts down on handling, waste and costs, since the bottles are re-used rather than having to be collected for recycling.

The Victorian tunnels at Waterloo are owned by The Old Vic and are run as a charity to raise funds for the theatre.  Julie Beeches, operations manager at the tunnels, explains that they host a huge variety of different events.  Just before The Minotaur took over, Tracey Emin had an exhibition there and before that there had been an 18th birthday party.  Dirk Duwaer says they were delighted by the flexibility of the space and the way Julie’s team were willing to accommodate The Minotaur concept.  “Most places say ‘sorry, you can’t do that’ to the crazy ideas Pret a Diner come up with.  Here they said ‘great, go for it!’”

Editors notes:
Pret a Diner
is part of Kofler & Kompanie, the global event and contract caterer.  Pret a Diner operates ‘dining experiences’, extraordinary pop-up restaurants that are created to challenge the imagination and satisfy all the senses.  The Minotaur was the company’s first UK venture.  The art gallery was organised by Lazarides.

Clean glasses with no polishing: Reverse Osmosis.
Reverse osmosis systems are recognised as the best way to treat water to ensure perfect glass and dish washing results, with no smears or odours.  Water is passed though an ultra-fine membrane which removes nearly all the impurities and particles that cause cleaning problems.  But traditional systems are large – often too large for the site.  Winterhalter’s new mini-system measures just 469mm (h) x 142mm (w) x 515mm (d), so is easily small enough to fit beside or even on top of the warewasher.  Yet it can process up to 90 litres of water per hour, removing 98% of particles.

Winterhalter at the Minotaur:


Winterhater supplied the following equipment:
One GS502TE Energy+ pass though hood dishwasher plus inlet and outlet tabling, including pre spray area.
One UC M glass washer
One RoMatik XS reverse osmosis system
One UCME glass washer (energy-saving unit)
All warewasher chemicals