Kahlil (left) and Jim Assad of Air King Refrigeration, Heating & Cooling stand inside the Tecumseh walk-in cooler they installed at Salsarita’s.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. - For Mexican food restaurants, the recipe to satisfy a hungry customer is fast service and fresh food. So much depends on all factors coming together in just the right blend.

The same is true for what goes on behind the scenes, especially for a new chain of cafeteria-style Mexican restaurants, which are quickly dotting the landscape in several states. In order to ensure the success of his Salsarita's Fresh Cantina restaurants, Michigan-area developer Steve Alie turned to the technology of Tecumseh Compressor Group's Vector Series Refrigeration System. In his first Michigan location, in a busy new shopping center in Allen Park, Alie hired Air King Refrigeration, Heating & Cooling of Detroit to design and install this critical component in his restaurant, which opened in late May.

Air King owner Jim Assad is impressed with the Vector Series, and from what he sees with this first installation, he could be very busy with some of the planned 20 plus Salsarita's in the Michigan area.

"I like the unit because the walk-in box is easy to assemble, which cuts installation costs," he said. "That is an important selling point when we are in a competitive bid situation." He said owners like Alie can expect to save about $1,100 per unit as opposed to a split system.

Assad, who installed the system working alongside his son, Kahlil, likes the product for numerous reasons.

"This is a self-contained unit," he said. "All of the controls are built in instead of being remote. The refrigeration unit takes about 45 minutes to slip in once the box is assembled. Compare that to a split system which may take 5-6 hours for two people to install."

The Vector Series is also easy to service. For example, the evaporator unit is fastened with clips and not screws, so a service tech doesn't even need a screwdriver.

"It is great for the employees because there is added headroom inside," Assad said. "There is no wasted space like with a conventional drop down coil unit."

Kevin Winslow, district manager for Downriver Refrigeration Supply Co., distributor of Tecumseh products, said this new Vector Series will revolutionize the walk-in cooler market.

Steve Alie, area developer for Salsarita’s (cutting ribbon), is surrounded by family members at the new Allen Park (Mich.) location.
"A tech can work on the unit without even going into the walk-in," he said. "That way, you avoid having mechanics walking in and out of the box, the environment is kept cleaner, and mechanics don't interfere with the restaurant employees. We feel this is the future of the walk-in market, and Tecumseh is leading the way with the Vector Line."

He also said the unit's thermometer is up on top, out of reach of employees who might want to tinker with the temperatures and create more problems than necessary.

Assad is impressed with the support he gets from Downriver Refrigeration Supply and Tecumseh, a Michigan company.

"I am very impressed with the support I get," he said. "That is a main reason why I am going to carry Tecumseh products exclusively. Tecumseh has a worldwide network, but it's nice to know they have a local supplier who can stand behind the warranty."

As more Salsarita's open up in the area, Jim and Kahlil Assad are already making plans to bid, install, and service many of the walk-in systems. While Mexican food lovers get their wish for fast and fresh food, owners like Alie will be getting reliable and expert service all the way from the manufacturer to the distributor to the contractor - a real team effort.

For more information on the Tecumseh Vector Series, visit www.tecumseh.com. For more information on Air King, visit www.theairking.com. For more information on Salsarita's, visit www.salsaritas.com.

Publication date: 06/12/2006