Fast Food


Fast FoodFast food restaurants serve food to diners who order at a counter or drive-in window for take-out (to go) or eaten seated at tables or booths. Typically plastic plates, cups and utensils are used. They have a limited menu of food and drink choices. These facilities include an eating areas plus the associated food storage, preparation, and cooking kitchen areas, usually open to view from the eating areas.


Fast food restaurants frequently pose comfort conditioning problems such as:

  • Extremely variable loads with high peaks in energy demand.
  • High sensible and latent heat gains due to people, food preparation and presentation, as well as any gas venting requirements.
  • Potential for unbalanced air flow conditions in areas adjacent to kitchens and in smoking and non-smoking areas.
  • Air flow should be from the eating areas into the kitchen area to avoid odor contamination, and heat migration during hot weather.
  • Heavy influx of outdoor air through entrances, especially during peak hours.

Typical System

Most are stand-alone restaurants and typically utilize air-cooled roof-top equipment. Ideally the systems are designed with one unit serving each zone. Restaurants located in larger buildings may be tied into the building's chilled/hot water system. In many cases, due to their operating hours not being coincidental with that of the building, they may have separate systems serving only their needs. They may be water-cooled where cooling tower water is available, otherwise they are usually air-cooled due to the lower maintenance required.

Recommendations/Energy Services Opportunities

Be alert to expansion needs and the potential replacement of old inefficient HVAC and refrigeration equipment with new, improved units. On new installations, consider integrating HVAC and refrigeration into a geothermal heat pump system.

Drive Through


In the Quick Service Dining category, which includes lunchrooms, cafeterias, snack bars, fast food chains and coffee shops, the emphasis is on speed.

These facilities generally have higher illumination levels, and the lighting is uniform throughout the dining area. This creates a feeling of economy and efficiency. Besides incandescent lamps, triphosphor and compact fluorescents are good choices.

Recessed fluorescent fixtures combined with pendant mounted fixtures over the tables often provide a nice touch along with indirect fluorescent fixtures such as cove or soffit lighting. Use accent lighting sparingly if at all.

Additional Information Located Here:

System Design
Duct Systems
Commercial Cooking
Commercial Refrigeration

Links to Related Topics

Full Service Restaurants
Bar & Tavern Food Service