“Bếp” in Vietnamese means “kitchen,” which made it the perfect word for Adam Gilpatrick and his wife to use when naming their first restaurant, Bếp Vietnamese Kitchen, in downtown Holly Springs, North Carolina, a suburb of Raleigh. The locally owned restaurant serves authentic Vietnamese Street Delights, including familiar Phở selections, Bánh Mì, a variety of snacks, and Boba Tea.

Bếp Vietnamese Kitchen is on the first floor of The Block on Main, a four-story mixed-use building with offices, workspace, retail, and dining. The 2,880-square-foot restaurant has a modern aesthetic with an exposed ceiling and large windows.

Gilpatrick wanted to ensure that staff and guests could work and dine in a well-conditioned space. A restaurant where it’s hot and stuffy is a miserable experience and he wanted to do whatever was needed to avoid that situation, especially as the key specialty item on the menu is hot soup. He engaged Durham-based Sunderland Engineering and its founder Gary Sunderland to help design a mechanical system that would provide the HVAC capabilities needed for a busy restaurant.

The project had several challenges. The needs in the kitchen were very different than the dining room, so he needed an HVAC solution that could tackle diverse loads. Traditional ductwork was not an option, given the restaurant’s footprint and exposed ceilings.

Because the restaurant is in a mixed-use building, each tenant has a specific amount of square footage available on the roof for HVAC. Structurally, a packaged rooftop unit was not an option on this roof. So the HVAC system needed a small footprint and flexibility in terms of placement. Plus, because the restaurant is on the first floor and the outdoor units are on the roof, they had to get the piping down from the roof and into the space without making too many modifications to the indoor or outdoor units.

The team devised a flexible, efficient system consisting of LG’s Split Compact DOAS and Multi V 5 VRF technologies and integrated controls. The Split Compact DOAS is equipped with a factory-embedded heat recovery unit, which eliminates the need for a separately purchased heat recovery unit to incorporate hot-gas reheat for high sensible load and hot weather applications. The units provide 100% outdoor air in heating, cooling, and dehumidification modes. Working with LG Multi V VRF equipment, the DOAS unit conditions fresh outdoor air indoors without sacrificing energy efficiency.

LG’s Mid-Static Ducted M3 Chassis was used for air handling to address the restaurant’s high, exposed ceiling. The chassis are installed in the ceiling and operate quietly, which is vital in a restaurant setting. In addition, the LG Split Compact DOAS eliminated the need for extensive ductwork. By decoupling the ventilation load, the restaurant was able to eliminate return air ductwork back to the unit. Additionally, the restaurant was able to distribute air evenly and by zone, resulting in a much shorter supply and return ducting per indoor unit.

Restaurants already carry high overhead costs, so managing electricity costs was paramount to Gilpatrick. The LG AC Smart 5 control solution allows him to access the units and incorporate the interlock function — a utility that increases energy-saving opportunities by providing more control and visibility into equipment settings, like indoor and outdoor temperature/humidity, and operating status.

Finally, MERV 8 filters, included as standard with LG’s Split Compact DOAS, they help filter particulates and provide the ability to upgrade to 2-inch MERV 13 filters if needed.

The completed project is flexible, energy-efficient, brings outdoor air into the building, and does not rely on natural gas heating or electric resistance heat. The system has kept the restaurant comfortable and helped with ventilation and indoor air quality, allowing staff to focus on the business and customers rather than worrying about the HVAC.