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Publication numberUS20030080657 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/264,324
Publication dateMay 1, 2003
Filing dateOct 4, 2002
Priority dateOct 4, 2001
Also published asCN1412482A, US20030080658, WO2003029086A2
Publication number10264324, 264324, US 2003/0080657 A1, US 2003/080657 A1, US 20030080657 A1, US 20030080657A1, US 2003080657 A1, US 2003080657A1, US-A1-20030080657, US-A1-2003080657, US2003/0080657A1, US2003/080657A1, US20030080657 A1, US20030080657A1, US2003080657 A1, US2003080657A1
InventorsPeter Koopman
Original AssigneeKoopman Peter J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Holding cabinets and methods of serving precooked food products employing such holding cabinets
US 20030080657 A1
Abstract
A holding cabinet includes a first side wall and a second side wall positioned opposite the first side wall. The holding cabinet also includes a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. The holding cabinet further includes a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, which are positioned above the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. Moreover, the holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, in which the food product holder is positioned between the first side wall and the second side wall and is supported by the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports. The holding cabinet also includes a first lifting panel, a second lifting panel, and a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports for raising the first food product holder from the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
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Claims(38)
What is claimed is:
1. A holding cabinet comprising:
a first side wall;
a second side wall positioned opposite said first side wall;
a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall, wherein said holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, wherein said first food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports; and
means for raising said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
2. The holding cabinet of claim 1, wherein said first side wall comprises a first channel, said second side wall comprises a second channel, and said means for raising said first food product holder comprises:
a first lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of said first channel;
a second lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of said second channel; and
a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel and a second support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel.
3. The holding cabinet of claim 2, further comprising:
means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel and said second lifting panel, wherein simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel and said second lifting panel simultaneously raises said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
4. The holding cabinet of claim 3, wherein said means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel and said second lifting panel comprises:
at least one cylinder connected to said first lifting panel or said second lifting panel, wherein said cylinder comprises an engaging nut;
at least one screw threaded into said engaging nut and disposed within said cylinder;
a gear box operationally coupled to said screw, wherein said gear box turns said screw; and
a plurality of pulleys and cables adapted to raise said first lifting panel or said second lifting panel.
5. The holding cabinet of claim 3, wherein said means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel and said second lifting panel comprises:
a first cylinder connected to said first lifting panel, wherein said first cylinder comprises a first engaging nut;
a second cylinder connected to said second lifting panel, wherein said second cylinder comprises a second engaging nut;
a first screw threaded into said first engaging nut and disposed within said first cylinder, wherein said threads of said first screw have a first direction of twist;
a second screw threaded into said second engaging nut and disposed within said second cylinder wherein said threads of said second screw have a second direction of twist opposite said first direction of twist;
a continuous, timing belt comprising a plurality of teeth, wherein said timing belt is operationally coupled to said first screw and said second screw; and
a gear box operationally coupled to said continuous, timing belt.
6. The holding cabinet of claim 3, wherein said first lifting panel comprises a first plurality of engaging teeth, said second lifting panel comprises a second plurality of engaging teeth, and said means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel and said second lifting panel comprises:
a first conveyer belt comprising a first plurality of teeth, wherein said first plurality of teeth engage said first plurality of engaging teeth;
a second conveyer belt comprising a second plurality of teeth, wherein said second plurality of teeth engage said second plurality of engaging teeth;
a continuous, timing belt comprising a third plurality of teeth, wherein said timing belt is operationally coupled to said first conveyer belt and said second conveyer belt; and
a gear box operationally coupled to said timing belt.
7. The holding cabinet of claim 3, wherein when said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said first food product holder said first food product holder contacts said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said first of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall and said second of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, such that said first food product holder rises above said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
8. The holding cabinet of claim 7, wherein said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports release when said first food product holder rises above said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
9. The holding cabinet of claim 8, wherein said first pair of non-stationary supports move in a downward direction when said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports release.
10. The holding cabinet of claim 2, further comprising:
a door hung on a hinge to at least a portion of said side wall,
a heater for heating an inside of said holding cabinet; and
a blower for circulating said heated air inside said holding cabinet.
11. The holding cabinet of claim 2, further comprising a counter having an opening formed therethrough, wherein said second pair of stationary supports are positioned adjacent to said counter, such that said food product holder supported by said second pair of stationary supports is positioned above or substantially level with said opening of said counter.
12. A holding cabinet comprising:
a first side wall;
a second side wall positioned opposite said first side wall;
a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports;
a third pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein said holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, wherein said first food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports; and
means for raising said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
13. The holding cabinet of claim 12, wherein said first side wall comprises a first pair of channels formed within said first side wall, said second side wall comprises a second pair of channels formed within said second side wall, and said means for raising said first food product holder comprises:
a first lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a first support of said first pair of channels;
a second lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a second support of said first pair of channels;
a third lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a first support of said second pair of channels;
a fourth lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a second support of said second pair of channels;
a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel, and a second support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said third lifting panel; and
a second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said fourth lifting panel spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports.
14. The holding cabinet of claim 13, further comprising:
means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel, wherein simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel simultaneously raises said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of non-stationary supports, wherein said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of non-stationary supports move to raise said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of stationary supports to said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports.
15. The holding cabinet of claim 14, wherein said means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel comprises:
at least one cylinder connected to said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, or said fourth lifting panel, wherein said cylinder comprises an engaging nut;
at least one screw threaded into said engaging nut and disposed within said cylinder;
a gear box operationally coupled to said screw, wherein said gear box turns said screw; and
a plurality of pulleys and cables adapted to raise said first lifting panel and said second lifting panel or said third lifting panel and said fourth lifting panel.
16. The holding cabinet of claim 14, wherein said means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel comprises:
a first cylinder connected to said first lifting panel or said second lifting panel, wherein said first cylinder comprises a first engaging nut;
a second cylinder connected to said third lifting panel or said fourth lifting panel, wherein said second cylinder comprises a second engaging nut;
a first screw threaded into said first engaging nut and disposed within said first cylinder, wherein said threads of said first screw have a first direction of twist;
a second screw threaded into said second engaging nut and disposed within said second cylinder wherein said threads of said second screw have a second direction of twist opposite said first direction of twist.;
a continuous, timing belt comprising a plurality of teeth, wherein said timing belt is operationally coupled to said first screw and said second screw; and
a gear box operationally coupled to said continuous, timing belt.
17. The holding cabinet of claim 14, wherein said first lifting panel or said second lifting panel comprises a first plurality of engaging teeth, said third lifting panel or said fourth lifting panel comprises a second plurality of engaging teeth, and said means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel comprises:
a first conveyer belt comprising a first plurality of teeth, wherein said first plurality of teeth engage said first plurality of engaging teeth;
a second conveyer belt comprising a second plurality of teeth, wherein said second plurality of teeth engage said second plurality of engaging teeth;
a continuous, timing belt comprising a third plurality of teeth, wherein said timing belt is operationally coupled to said first conveyer belt and said second conveyer belt; and
a gear box operationally coupled to said timing belt.
18. The holding cabinet of claim 14, wherein when said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said first food product holder said first food product holder contacts said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports and said first of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall, said second of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, said first of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall, and said second of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, such that said first food product holder rises above said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
19. The holding cabinet of claim 15, wherein said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports release when said first food product holder rises above said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
20. The holding cabinet of claim 16, wherein said first pair of non-stationary supports and said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move in a downward direction when said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports release.
21. The holding cabinet of claim 13, further comprising:
a door hung on a hinge to at least a portion of said side wall,
a heater for heating an inside of said holding cabinet; and
a blower for circulating said heated air inside said holding cabinet.
22. The holding cabinet of claim 13, further comprising a counter having an opening formed therethrough, wherein said third pair of stationary supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports are positioned adjacent to said counter, such that said food product holder supported by said third pair of stationary supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports is positioned above or substantially level with said opening of said counter.
23. A holding cabinet of claim comprising:
a first side wall;
a second side wall positioned opposite said first side wall;
a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports;
a third pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein said holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, wherein said first food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports;
a fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein said holding cabinet is adapted to receive a second food product holder, wherein said second food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports; and
means for raising said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and simultaneously raising said second food product holder from said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
24. The holding cabinet of claim 23, wherein said first side wall comprises a first pair of channels formed within said first side wall, said second side wall comprises a second pair of channels formed within said second side wall, and said means for raising said first food product holder and simultaneously raising said second food product holder comprises:
a first lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a first support of said first pair of channels;
a second lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a second support of said first pair of channels;
a third lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a first support of said second pair of channels;
a fourth lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of a second support of said second pair of channels;
a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel, and a second support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said third lifting panel;
a second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said fourth lifting panel spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports.
a third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel, and a second support of said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said third lifting panel; and
a fourth pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said fourth pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said first of said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of said fourth pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said fourth lifting panel spaced from and on substantially the same plane as said second of said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports.
25. The holding cabinet of claim 24, further comprising:
means for simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel, wherein simultaneously raising or lowering said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, said third lifting panel, and said fourth lifting panel simultaneously raises said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, said second pair of non-stationary supports, said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and said fourth pair of non-stationary supports, wherein said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of non-stationary supports move to raise said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of stationary supports to said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports, and said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of non-stationary supports move to raise said second food product holder from said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports to said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said sixth pair of stationary supports.
26. The holding cabinet of claim 25, wherein when said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said first food product holder said first food product holder contacts said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary supports and said first of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall, said second of said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, said first of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall, and said second of said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, and wherein when said third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said second food product holder said second food product holder contacts said firth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and sixth fourth pair of stationary supports and said first of said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall, said second of said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, said first of said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said first side wall, and said second of said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports pivots inside said second side wall, such that said first food product holder rises above said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said second food product holder simultaneously rises above said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
27. The holding cabinet of claim 26, wherein said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports release when said first food product holder rises above said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports release when said second food product holder rises above said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
28. The holding cabinet of claim 27, wherein said first pair of non-stationary supports, said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, said third pair of non-stationary supports, and said fourth pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move in a downward direction when said third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, said fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, said fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and said sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports release.
29. The holding cabinet of claim 24, further comprising:
a door hung on a hinge to at least a portion of said side wall,
a heater for heating an inside of said holding cabinet; and
a blower for circulating said heated air inside said holding cabinet.
30. A holding cabinet comprising:
a first side wall comprising a first channel;
a second side wall positioned opposite said first side wall, wherein said second side wall comprises a second channel;
a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a first lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of said first channel;
a second lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of said second channel; and
a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports positioned below said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel and a second support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel, wherein said holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, wherein said first food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, and said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said first food product holder from said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports to said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
31. The holding cabinet of claim 30, further comprising a second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel and a second support of said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel, wherein said first lifting panel, said second lifting panel, and said second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports move to raise said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
32. The holding cabinet of claim 31, further comprising:
a door hung on a hinge to at least a portion of said side wall,
a heater for heating an inside of said holding cabinet; and
a blower for circulating said heated air inside said holding cabinet.
33. A method of serving precooked food products comprising the steps of:
placing a precooked food product on a first food product holder;
placing said first food product holder in a holding cabinet, wherein said holding cabinet comprises:
a first side wall;
a second side wall positioned opposite said first side wall;
a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall; and
a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall, wherein said first food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports;
raising said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports; and
removing said food product from said first food product holder when said first food product holder rises to an upper portion of said holding cabinet.
34. The method of claim 33, wherein said holding cabinet further comprises a door hung on a hinge to at least a portion of said first side wall and the step of removing said food product comprises the step of removing said food product when said first food product holder rises above said door.
35. The method of claim 33, wherein said holding cabinet further comprises a counter and at least a portion of said first side wall and at least a portion of said second side wall are disposed within said counter, wherein the step of removing said food product comprises the step of removing said food product when said first food product holder rises above or substantially level with said counter.
36. A method of serving precooked food products comprising the steps of:
placing a precooked food product on a first food product holder;
placing said first food product holder in a holding cabinet, wherein said holding cabinet comprises:
a first side wall comprising a first channel;
a second side wall positioned opposite said first side wall, wherein said second side wall comprises a second channel;
a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports positioned above said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said first side wall and a second support of said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through said second side wall;
a first lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of said first channel;
a second lifting panel positioned within at least a portion of said second channel;
a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, wherein a first support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said first lifting panel, and a second support of said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on said second lifting panel, wherein said first food product holder is positioned between said first side wall and said second side wall and is supported by said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports;
raising said first food product holder from said first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports to said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports;
raising said first food product holder from said first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to said second pair of stationary, pivotable supports; and
removing said food product from said first food product holder when said first food product holder rises to an upper portion of said holding cabinet.
37. The method of claim 36, wherein said holding cabinet further comprises a door hung on a hinge to at least a portion of said first side wall and the step of removing said food product comprises the step of removing said food product when said first food product holder rises above said door.
38. The method of claim 36, wherein said holding cabinet further comprises a counter and at least a portion of said first side wall and at least a portion of said second side wall are disposed within said counter, wherein the step of removing said food product comprises the step of removing said food product when said first food product holder rises above or substantially level with said counter.
Description
  • [0001]
    The present application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/326,738, entitled “Holding Cabinet and Methods of Serving Precooked Food Products Employing Such Holding Cabinets,” the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The invention relates generally to the field of holding cabinets and methods of serving precooked food products employing such holding cabinets. More specifically, the invention is directed towards holding cabinets in which precooked food products are raised within the holding cabinet, and methods of serving precooked food products employing such holding cabinets.
  • [0004]
    2. Description of Related Art
  • [0005]
    Some restaurants, such as fast food restaurants, may precook some of the food products, e.g., chicken, beef, turkey, fish, pizza, and the like, which they later may serve to customers. Because the precooked food products may not be immediately served after cooking, the precooked food products initially may be stored in a first holding cabinet. Some known first holding cabinets may form an enclosure, and may include a heater, a blower for circulating heated air, and a plurality of shelves. After the food products are cooked, the precooked food products may be placed on food product holders, such as trays, pans, or the like, which may be placed on the shelves within the first holding cabinet. Subsequently, the precooked food products may be transferred to a second holding cabinet, which may be at a predetermined location inside the restaurant, such that precooked food products placed inside the second holding cabinet may be displayed to customers. For example, the precooked food products may be transferred from the first holding cabinet to the second holding cabinet when the second holding cabinet is depleted or substantially depleted of a particular type of food product. Some known second holding cabinets may form a transparent enclosure, and may include a rotatable surface or surfaces and a heater, so that the precooked food products may be at a desirable temperature when they are served to customers.
  • [0006]
    Although food products may be precooked and stored in holding cabinets, if the precooked food products remain in the holding cabinets for more than a predetermined amount of time, the precooked food products may become undesirable for consumption. For example, the precooked food products may change in texture or taste, or both, or may become dry. Consequently, in order to reduce an amount of time that the precooked food products spend inside the holding cabinets before being served to customers, some restaurants may employ known indexing methods, such that the precooked food product which has been inside the holding cabinet for the longest period of time may be the next food product served to a customer requesting that particular food product. Such indexing methods may include manually marking the precooked food products or the food product holder, manually rotating the rotatable surface(s) when precooked food products are added to or removed from the second holding cabinet, memorizing the order in which the precooked food products are placed inside the holding cabinets, and the like.
  • [0007]
    Nevertheless, such restaurants may have multiple employees who place precooked food products in the holding cabinets, and also may have multiple employees who serve the precooked food products from the holding cabinets. Further, the employees who place the precooked food products inside the holding cabinets may be different than those employees who remove the precooked food products from the holding cabinets, which may make it difficult to accurately index the precooked food products.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    Therefore, a need has arisen for holding cabinets and methods of employing such holding cabinets that overcome these and other shortcomings of the related art. A technical advantage of the present invention is that food products stored in a holding cabinet may be indexed such that a food product which has been inside the holding cabinet for the longest period of time may be the next food product served to a customer requesting that particular food product. Another technical advantage of the present invention is that a single holding cabinet may be employed to hold precooked food products and also to display precooked food products to customers.
  • [0009]
    According to an embodiment of the present invention, a holding cabinet is provided. The holding cabinet comprises a first side wall and a second side wall positioned opposite the first side wall. The holding cabinet also comprises a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. The holding cabinet further comprises a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, which are positioned above the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. Moreover, the holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, in which the first food product holder is positioned between the first side wall and the second side wall and is supported by the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports. The holding cabinet also comprises means, e.g., a first lifting panel, a second lifting panel, and a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, for raising, e.g., mechanically raising, the first food product holder from the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
  • [0010]
    According to another embodiment of the present invention, a holding cabinet is provided. The holding cabinet comprises a first side wall which comprises a first channel, and a second side wall which is positioned opposite the first side wall and comprises a second channel. The holding cabinet further comprises a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. Moreover, the holding cabinet comprises a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports which are positioned above the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. The holding cabinet also comprises a first lifting panel which is positioned within at least a portion of the first channel, and a second lifting panel which is positioned within at least a portion of the second channel. The holding cabinet further comprises a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports which are positioned below the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on the first lifting panel and a second support of the first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports is formed on the second lifting panel. In addition, the holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, in which the first food product holder is positioned between the first side wall and the second side wall and is supported by the first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports. Moreover, the first lifting panel, the second lifting panel, and the first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports raise, e.g., mechanically raise, the first food product holder from the first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports to the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports. In one embodiment, the first lifting panel, the second lifting panel, and a second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports raise, e.g., mechanically raise, the first food product holder from the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
  • [0011]
    According to yet another embodiment of the present invention, a holding cabinet is provided. The holding cabinet comprises a first side wall and a second side wall positioned opposite the first side wall. The holding cabinet also comprises a first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. The holding cabinet further comprises a second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and is spaced from and on substantially the same plane as the first of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall and is spaced from and on substantially the same plane as the second of the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports. Moreover, the holding cabinet also comprises a third pair of stationary, pivotable supports which are positioned above the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. The holding cabinet also comprises a fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports which are positioned above the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and is spaced from and on substantially the same plane as the first of the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of the fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall and is spaced from and on substantially the same plane as the second of the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports. The holding cabinet is adapted to receive a first food product holder, in which the first food product holder is positioned between the first side wall and the second side wall and is supported by the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports. Moreover, the holding cabinet comprises means, e.g., a first lifting panel, a second lifting panel, a first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and a second pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, for raising, e.g., mechanically raising, the first food product holder from the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports and the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and the fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
  • [0012]
    In still another embodiment, the holding cabinet also comprises a fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports which are positioned above the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and a second support of the fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall. In this embodiment, the holding cabinet further comprises a sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports which are positioned above the fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, in which a first support of the sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the first side wall and is spaced from and on substantially the same plane as the first of the fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and a second support of the sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports is operably mounted through the second side wall and is spaced from and on substantially the same plane as the second of the fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports. In addition, the holding cabinet is adapted to receive a second food product holder, in which the second food product holder is positioned between the first side wall and the second side wall and is supported by the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and the fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports. Moreover, the first lifting panel, the second lifting panel, a third pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports, and a fourth pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports raise, e.g., mechanically raise, the second food product holder from the third pair of stationary, pivotable supports and the fourth pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the fifth pair of stationary, pivotable supports and the sixth pair of stationary, pivotable supports.
  • [0013]
    According to a further embodiment of the present invention, a method of serving precooked food products is described. The method comprises the steps of placing a precooked food product on a first food product holder and placing the first food product holder in a holding cabinet according to any of the above-described embodiments. The method also comprises the steps of raising, e.g., mechanically raising, the first food product holder from the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and removing the food product from the first food product holder when the first food product holder rises to an upper portion of the holding cabinet, e.g., above the door.
  • [0014]
    According to yet a further embodiment of the present invention, a method of serving precooked food products is described. The method comprises the steps placing a precooked food product on a first food product holder and placing the first food product holder in a holding cabinet according to any of the above-described embodiments. The method also comprises the steps of raising, e.g., mechanically raising, the first food product holder from the first pair of non-stationary, pivotable supports to the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports, and raising, e.g., mechanically raising the first food product holder from the first pair of stationary, pivotable supports to the second pair of stationary, pivotable supports. Moreover, the method comprises the step of removing the food product from the first food product holder when the first food product holder rises to an upper portion of the holding cabinet, e.g., above the door.
  • [0015]
    Other objects, features, and advantages will be apparent to persons of ordinary skill in the art in view of the following detailed description of the invention and the accompanying drawings and color photographs, which are provided by example only, and are not intended to limit the present invention.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0016]
    For a more complete understanding of the present invention, needs satisfied thereby, and objects, features, and advantages thereof, reference now is made to the following descriptions taken in connection with the accompanying drawings.
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 1 is a front cross-sectional view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 2 is a front cross-sectional view of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 including arrows indicating movement of the elements of the holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0019]
    [0019]FIG. 3 is a front cross-sectional view of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 showing a transitional stage within the holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0020]
    [0020]FIG. 4 is a front cross-sectional view of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 including arrows indicating movement of the elements of the holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0021]
    [0021]FIG. 5 is a front cross-sectional view of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 including arrows indicating movement of the elements of the holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0022]
    [0022]FIG. 6 is a front cross-sectional view of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 including arrows indicating movement of the elements of the holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0023]
    [0023]FIG. 7 is a front cross-sectional view of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 showing the completion of one raising cycle within the holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of the left side of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0025]
    [0025]FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the right side of the holding cabinet of FIG. 1 according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0026]
    [0026]FIGS. 10a-d are front cross-sectional views depicting pivoting of a stationary, pivotable support including arrows indicating movement of a food product tray according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0027]
    [0027]FIGS. 11a-d are front cross-sectional views including arrow indicating movement of a non-stationary, pivotable support according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0028]
    [0028]FIG. 12 is a front open view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0029]
    [0029]FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a first means for raising or lowering lifting panels according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0030]
    [0030]FIG. 14 is a perspective view of a second means for raising or lowering lifting panels according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0031]
    [0031]FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a third means for raising or lowering lifting panels according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0032]
    [0032]FIG. 16 is a front view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0033]
    [0033]FIG. 17 is a front perspective view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0034]
    [0034]FIG. 18 is a top perspective view of a counter of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0035]
    [0035]FIG. 19 is a back perspective view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0036]
    [0036]FIG. 20 is a side perspective view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0037]
    [0037]FIG. 21 is a side perspective view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • [0038]
    [0038]FIG. 22 is a back perspective view of a holding cabinet according to an embodiment of the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • [0039]
    Preferred embodiments of the present invention and their advantages may be understood by referring to FIGS. 1-22, like numerals being used for like corresponding parts in the various drawings.
  • [0040]
    Referring to FIGS. 1, 8, 9, 12, and 16, a holding cabinet 100 may comprise a first side wall 110 and a second side wall 112 positioned substantially opposite first side wall 110. First side wall 110 may comprise a first channel (not shown), and in one embodiment, also may comprise a second channel (not shown) spaced apart from the first channel. Second side wall 112 may comprise a third channel (not shown) formed substantially opposite the first channel, and in one embodiment, also may comprise a fourth channel (not shown) spaced apart from the third channel and formed substantially opposite the second channel.
  • [0041]
    As shown in FIGS. 1, 8, 9, and 21, holding cabinet 100 also may comprise a plurality of stationary, pivotable supports, e.g., stationary supporting hinges, which may pivot, but may not move up or down, relative to side wall 110 and side wall 112, respectively. For example, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a stationary support 120 a formed on first side wall 110 and a stationary support 120 b formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned substantially opposite stationary support 120 a. Holding cabinet 100 also may comprise a stationary support 122 a formed on first side wall 110, which may be positioned above stationary support 120 a, and a stationary support 122 b formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned above stationary support 120 b substantially opposite stationary support 122 a. Holding cabinet 100 further may comprise a stationary support 124 a formed on first side wall 110, which may be positioned above stationary support 122 a, and a stationary support 124 b formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned above stationary support 122 b substantially opposite stationary support 124 a. Moreover, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a stationary support 126 a formed on first side wall 110, which may be positioned above stationary support 124 a, and a stationary support 126 b formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned above stationary support 124 b substantially opposite stationary support 126 a.
  • [0042]
    Referring to FIG. 8, holding cabinet 100 also may comprise a stationary support 120 a′ formed on first side wall 110, which may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 120 a, and a stationary support 120 b′ formed on second side wall 112, which may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 120 b. Holding cabinet 100 further may comprise a stationary support 122 a′ formed on first side wall 110, which may be positioned above stationary support 120 a′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 122 a. In addition, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a stationary support 122 b′ formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned above stationary support 120 b′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 122 b. Holding cabinet 100 also may comprise a stationary support 124 a′ formed on first side wall 110, which may be positioned above stationary support 122 a′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 124 a. Moreover, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a stationary support 124 b′ formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned above stationary support 122 b′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 124 b. In addition, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a stationary support 126 a′ formed on first side wall 10, which may be positioned above stationary support 124 a′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 126 a. Holding cabinet 100 further may comprise a stationary support 126 b′ formed on second side wall 112, which may be positioned above stationary support 124 b′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as stationary support 126 b. Thus, in an embodiment, holding cabinet 100 may comprise at least four pairs of stationary supports operably mounted through each of the side walls 110 and 112, respectively.
  • [0043]
    In any of the above-described embodiments, holding cabinet 100 also may comprise at least one food product holder 106, which may be a tray, pan, or the like, which may be positioned between first side wall 110 and second side wall 112. For example, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a single food product holder 106. Alternatively, holding cabinet 100 may comprise a plurality of food product holders 106, such as between two and five food product holders. Nevertheless, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the number of food product holders 106 employed may depend on a size of holding cabinet 100 and the number of stationary supports employed in holding cabinet 100. Moreover, in one embodiment, at least one of the food product holders 106 may be supported by stationary supports, which are positioned substantially in the same plane, such that food product holder 106 may be substantially level.
  • [0044]
    In any of the above-described embodiments, holding cabinet 100 further may comprise means for raising, e.g., mechanical means, electrical means, electromagnetic means, or any other non-manual means, the at least one food product holder 106. For example, food product holder 106 may be raised from stationary supports 120 a and 120 b to stationary supports 122 a and 122 b. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may be raised from stationary supports 120 a, 120 b, 120 a′, and 120 b′ to stationary supports 122 a, 122 b, 122 a′, and 122 b′. Similarly, food product holder 106 may be raised from stationary supports 122 a and 122 b to stationary supports 124 a and 124 b. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may be raised from stationary supports 122 a, 122 b, 122 a′, and 122 b′ to stationary supports 124 a, 124 b, 124 a′, and 124 b′. Nevertheless, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that food product holder 106 may be raised from any set of stationary supports positioned in a first plane to any other set of stationary supports positioned in a second plane which is above the first plane. Moreover, the means for raising food products holder 106 may comprise a first lifting panel 108 a, which may be positioned within at least a portion of the first channel, and a second lifting panel 108 b, which may be positioned within at least a portion of the third channel. In one embodiment, the means for raising food product holder 106 also may comprise a third lifting panel 108 a′, which may be positioned within at least a portion of the second channel, and a fourth lifting panel 108 b′, which may be positioned within at least a portion of the fourth channel.
  • [0045]
    In any of the above-described embodiments, the means for raising food product holder 106 also may comprise a plurality of non-stationary, pivotable supports, e.g., movable supporting hinges, which may pivot and also may move up or down relative to side wall 110 and side wall 112, respectively. For example, the means for raising food product holder 106 may comprise a non-stationary support 130 a formed on first lifting panel 108 a and a non-stationary support 130 b formed on second lifting panel 108 b, which may be positioned substantially opposite non-stationary support 130 a. In this embodiment, food product holder 106 may be supported by non-stationary supports 130 a and 130 b, and may be raised from non-stationary supports 130 a and 130 b to stationary supports 120 a and 120 b.
  • [0046]
    The means for raising food product holder 106 also may comprise a non-stationary support 132 a formed on first lifting panel 108 a, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 130 a, and a non-stationary support 132 b formed on second lifting panel 108 b, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 130 b substantially opposite non-stationary support 132 a. The means for raising food product holder 106 further may comprise a non-stationary support 134 a formed on first lifting panel 108 a, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 132 a, and a non-stationary support 134 b formed on second lifting panel 108 b, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 132 b substantially opposite non-stationary support 134 a. Moreover, the means for raising food product holder 106 may comprise a non-stationary support 136 a formed on first lifting panel 108 a, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 134 a, and a non-stationary support 136 b formed on second lifting panel 108 b, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 134 b substantially opposite non-stationary support 136 a.
  • [0047]
    In an another embodiment, the means for raising food product holder 106 also may comprise a non-stationary support 130 a′ formed on third lifting panel 108 a′, which may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 130 a, and a non-stationary support 130 b′ formed on fourth lifting panel 108 b′, which may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 130 b. In this embodiment, food product holder 106 may be supported by non-stationary supports 130 a, 130 b, 130 a′, and 130 b′, and may be raised from non-stationary supports 130 a, 130 b, 130 a′, 130 b′ to stationary supports 120 a, 120 b, 120 a′, and 120 b′. The means for raising food product holder 106 further may comprise a non-stationary support 132 a′ formed on third lifting panel 108 a′, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 130 a′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 132 a. In addition, the means for raising food product holder 106 may comprise a non-stationary support 132 b′ formed on fourth lifting panel 108 b′, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 130 b′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 132 b.
  • [0048]
    The means for raising food product holder 106 also may comprise a non-stationary support 134 a′ formed on third lifting panel 108 a′, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 132 a′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 134 a. Moreover, the means for raising food product holder 106 may comprise a non-stationary support 134 b′ formed on fourth lifting panel 108 b′, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 132 b′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 134 b. In addition, the means for raising food product holder 106 may comprise a non-stationary support 136 a′ formed on third lifting panel 108 a′, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 134 a′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 136 a. The means for raising food product holder 106 further may comprise a non-stationary support 136 b′ formed on fourth lifting panel 108 b′, which may be positioned above non-stationary support 134 b′ and also may be spaced from and formed on substantially the same plane as non-stationary support 136 b.
  • [0049]
    In any of the above-described embodiments, holding cabinet 100 also may comprise means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b. For example, referring to FIGS. 13 and 20, the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b may comprise a pulley system 150. In this embodiment, the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b also may comprise a first cylinder 152 a, which may be mounted to a backside of first lifting panel 108 a via a mounting bracket 160 a. Moreover, first cylinder 152 a may comprise a threaded engaging nut 154 a. Similarly, the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b also may comprise a second cylinder 152 b, which may be mounted to a backside of second lifting panel 108 b via a mounting bracket 160 b. The means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b further may comprise at least one screw 156, such as an ACME-type or jacking screw, i.e., a screw which has threads running substantially the entire length of the screw, which may be operationally coupled to a gear box 158 or a motor (not shown), or both. In operation, when first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b are in a lowered positioned, screw 156 may be substantially inside first cylinder 152 a, and gear box 158 or the motor (not shown), or a combination thereof, may turn screw 156 in a predetermined direction. When screw 156 turns, threaded engaging nut 154 a may move in an upward direction, such that first lifting panel 108 a also may move in an upward direction. In one embodiment, the length of screw 156 may be selected such that it is less than the length of first cylinder 152 a. For example, first cylinder 152 a may be between about ten inches and about eleven inches, and screw 156 may be about eight inches, such that screw 156 may not contact a top portion of first cylinder 152 a and about one inch of screw 156 may not be disposed within cylinder 152 a. In this embodiment, when first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b move from a fully lowered position to a fully raised position, engaging nut 154 a may move about 6 inches upwards along screw 156.
  • [0050]
    Moreover, referring to FIGS. 13 and 22, pulley system 150 may be arranged such that when first lifting panel 108 a moves in an upward direction, second lifting panel 108 b also may move in an upward direction. When screw 156 turns in a direction opposite the predetermined direction, threaded engaging nut 154 a may move in a downward direction towards a base of screw 156, such that first lifting panel 108 a also may move in an downward direction. Moreover, pulley system 150 may be arranged such that when first lifting panel 108 a moves in a downward direction, second lifting panel 108 b also may move in a downward direction. For example, the individual pulleys comprising pulley system 150 may be operatively connected by rope, cable, wire rope, or the like.
  • [0051]
    Referring to FIG. 14, an alternative means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b is shown. Nevertheless, this embodiment may be substantially similar to the above-described embodiment. Therefore, those differences between these embodiments now will be discussed. In this embodiment, the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b may comprise a plurality of screws 156. For example, the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b may comprise a first screw 156 a and a second screw 156 b. Moreover, the threads on first screw 156 a may have a twist in a first predetermined direction, e.g., a right twist, and the threads on second screw 156 b may have a twist in a direction opposite the direction of the twist of first screw 156 a, e.g., a left twist. Moreover, second cylinder 152 b may comprise a threaded engaging nut 154 b. The means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b also may comprise a continuous, timing belt 162, which may comprise a plurality of teeth 164 spaced such that when a first tooth 164 a contacts a first gear 166 a, a second tooth 164 b simultaneously may contact a second gear 166 b. In operation, gear box 158 or the motor (not shown), or combinations thereof, may rotate a third gear 166 c, which may rotate timing belt 162, such that teeth 164 a and 164 b may engage first screw 156 a and second screw 156 b, respectively. Engaging first screw 156 a and second screw 156 b may allow first screw 156 a and second screw 156 b to rotate in the predetermined direction. Nevertheless, because the direction of twist on first screw 156 a may be opposite the direction of twist on second screw 156 b, when screws 156 a and 156 b are rotated in the same direction, engaging nuts 154 a and 154 b simultaneously may move in the same direction, such that first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b also may simultaneously move in the same direction.
  • [0052]
    Referring to FIG. 15, another alternative means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b is shown. Nevertheless, this embodiment may be substantially similar to the above-described embodiments. Therefore, those differences between these embodiments now will be discussed. In this embodiment, first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b each may have a plurality of engaging teeth. Moreover, the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b may comprise a first, continuous conveyer belt 168 a having a plurality of engaging teeth and positioned adjacent to first lifting panel 108 a, such that the engaging teeth on first conveyer belt 168 a may engage with the engaging teeth on first lifting panel 108 a. The means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b also may comprise a second, continuous conveyer belt 168 b having a plurality of engaging teeth and positioned adjacent to second lifting panel 108 b, such that the engaging teeth on second conveyer belt 168 b may engage with the engaging teeth on second lifting panel 108 b. First conveyer belt 168 a and second conveyer belt 168 b may be operationally coupled to timing belt 162, such that when timing belt 162 advances in a predetermined direction, first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b may be simultaneously raised. Similarly, when timing belt 162 advances in a direction which is opposite the predetermined direction, first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b may be simultaneously lowered.
  • [0053]
    It will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a, second lifting panel 108 b, third lifting panel 108 a′, and fourth lifting panel 108 b′ may be the same as or substantially similar to above-described means for simultaneously raising or lowering first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b. For example, a screw 156 may be employed for each lifting panel, or alternatively, the lifting panels positioned on the same side wall may be mechanically or operatively connected. Moreover, it also will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that there may be numerous suitable ways to raise or lower first lifting panel 108 a, second lifting panel 108 b, third lifting panel 108 a′ or fourth lifting panel 108 b′, or combinations thereof.
  • [0054]
    As shown in FIGS. 12, 16, and 17, in any of the above-described embodiments, holding cabinet 100 also may comprise at least one door 142, which may be hung on a hinge (not shown) from side wall 110, and a top or a counter 176. Counter 176 may include at least one opening (not numbered by shown in FIGS. 17 and 18), and at least one of the non-stationary supports may be positioned within or below counter 176, such that at least a portion of first side wall 110 and at least a portion of second side wall 112 also may be positioned within or below counter 176. Moreover, door 142 may comprise a plurality of shelves 140. In one embodiment, door 142 may be positioned below counter 176, and also may be shorter than first side wall 110 and second side wall 112, such that when food product holder 106 is positioned at an upper portion of holding cabinet 100, e.g., above door 142 or above or substantially level with counter 176, or both, at least a portion of a food product 174, e.g., chicken, beef, turkey, fish, pizza, and the like, disposed on food product holder 106 may be positioned above or substantially level with counter 176 and may be retrieved without opening door 142. For example, in this embodiment, holding cabinet 100 may be positioned in a serving location in a restaurant, e.g., a location at which customers may order food products and receive ordered food products, such that food products 174 positioned above or substantially level with counter 176 may be displayed to or viewed by customers. Moreover, holding cabinet 100 further may comprise at least one heater (not shown) positioned within holding cabinet 100, and a blower (not shown) for circulating heat within holding cabinet 100. Referring to FIGS. 16-17 and 19, holding cabinet 100 also may comprise a first shelf 172 a positioned above counter 176, and at least one first radiant heater 170 a positioned inside first shelf 172 a or on a surface of first shelf 172 a, which may provide radiant heat for food products 174 positioned above or substantially level with counter 176. Similarly, holding cabinet 100 further may comprise a second shelf 172 b positioned above first shelf 172 a, and at least one second radiant heater 170 b positioned inside second shelf 172 b or on a surface of second shelf 172 b, which may provide radiant heat for food products 174 positioned on a top surface of first shelf 172 a.
  • [0055]
    Referring to FIGS. 1-7, in operation, food product holder 106 may be placed on non-stationary supports 130 a and 130 b. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may be placed on non-stationary supports 130 a, 130 b, 130 a′, and 130 b′. First lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b, or alternatively first lifting panel 108 a, second lifting panel 108 b, third lifting panel 108 a′, and fourth lifting panel 108 b′, may be raised, such that food product holder 106 also may be raised. Referring to FIGS. 10a-10 d, food product holder 106 may contact stationary supports 120 a and 120 b, such that stationary supports 120 a and 120 b may pivot inside first side wall 110 and second side wall 112, respectively. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may contact stationary supports 120 a, 120 b, 120 a′, and 120 b′, such that stationary supports 120 a and 120 a′ may pivot inside first side wall 110 and stationary supports 120 b and 120 b′ may pivot inside second side wall 112. When the stationary supports pivot inside their respective side walls, food product holder 106 may be raised above the stationary supports, such that the stationary supports subsequently may be released from their respective side walls. Referring to FIGS. 11a-d, when the stationary supports release from their respective side walls, the lifting panels may be lowered to their original positioned, such that food product holder 106 may be supported by stationary supports 120 a and 120 b and non-stationary supports 132 a and 132 b. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may be supported by stationary supports 120 a, 120 b, 120 a′, and 120 b′ and non-stationary supports 132 a, 132 b, 132 a′, and 132 b′.
  • [0056]
    Moreover, first lifting panel 108 a and second lifting panel 108 b, or alternatively first lifting panel 108 a, second lifting panel 108 b, third lifting panel 108 a′, and fourth lifting panel 108 b′, subsequently may be raised again, such that food product holder 106 also may be raised by non-stationary supports 132 a and 132 b, or alternatively, by non-stationary supports 132 a, 132 b, 132 a′, and 132 b′. Referring to FIGS. 10a-10 d, food product holder 106 may contact stationary supports 122 a and 122 b, such that stationary supports 122 a and 122 b may pivot inside first side wall 110 and second side wall 112, respectively. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may contact stationary supports 122 a, 122 b, 122 a′, and 122 b′, such that stationary supports 122 a and 122 a′ may pivot inside first side wall 110 and stationary supports 122 b and 122 b′ may pivot inside second side wall 112. When the stationary supports pivot inside their respective side walls, food product holder 106 may be raised above the stationary supports, such that the stationary supports subsequently may be released from their respective side walls. Referring to FIGS. 11a-d, when the stationary supports release from their respective side walls, the lifting panels may be lowered to their original positions, such that food product holder 106 may be supported by stationary supports 122 a and 122 b and non-stationary supports 134 a and 134 b. Alternatively, food product holder 106 may be supported by stationary supports 122 a, 122 b, 122 a′, and 122 b′ and non-stationary supports 134 a, 134 b, 134 a′, and 134 b′.
  • [0057]
    Nevertheless, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that the above-described operation of holding cabinet 100 may continue until food product holder 106 rises to the upper portion of holding cabinet 100, , e.g., above door 142 or above or substantially level with counter 176, or both, such that food products 174 disposed on food product holder 106 may be displayed and served to customers. Moreover, it also will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that when multiple food product holders 106 are placed within holding cabinet 100, each of the food product holders 106 simultaneously may be raised within holding cabinet 100.
  • [0058]
    According to an embodiment of the present invention, a method of serving precooked food products employing a holding cabinet 100 according any of the above-described embodiments, is described. The method comprises the steps of placing a precooked food product 174 on food product holder 106 and placing food product holder 106 in holding cabinet 100. The method also comprises the step of raising food product holder 106 from a first plurality of stationary, pivotable supports located substantially in a first plane to a second plurality of stationary, pivotable supports located substantially in a second plane which is above the first plane. The method further comprises the step of removing food product 174 from food product holder 106 when food product holder 106 rises to an upper portion of holding cabinet 100, e.g., above door 142 or above or substantially level with counter 176, or both
  • [0059]
    According to another embodiment of the present invention, a method of serving precooked food products employing a holding cabinet 100 according any of the above-described embodiments, is described. The method comprises the steps of placing a precooked food product 174 on food product holder 106 and placing food product holder 106 in holding cabinet 100. The method also comprises the step of raising food product holder 106 from a first plurality of non-stationary, pivotable supports located substantially in a first plane to a first plurality of stationary, pivotable supports located substantially in a second plane which is above the first plane. Moreover, the method comprises the step of raising food product holder 106 from the first plurality of stationary, pivotable supports located substantially in the second plane to a second plurality of stationary, pivotable supports located substantially in a third plane which is above the second plane. The method further comprises the step of removing food product 174 from food product holder 106 when food product holder 106 rises to an upper portion of holding cabinet 100, e.g., above door 142 or above or substantially level with counter 176, or both.
  • [0060]
    While the invention has been described in connection with preferred embodiments, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that other variations and modifications of the preferred embodiments described above may be made without departing from the scope of the invention. Other embodiments will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art from a consideration of the specification or practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and the described examples are considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of the invention indicated by the following claims.
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7905173Apr 28, 2006Mar 15, 2011Restaurant Technology, Inc.Food staging device, method of storing foods, and method of making a sandwich
US8695489Apr 28, 2006Apr 15, 2014Restaurant Technology, Inc.Food staging device
US20070251667 *Apr 28, 2006Nov 1, 2007Restaurant Technology, Inc.Food staging device
US20070254079 *Apr 28, 2006Nov 1, 2007Restaurant Technology, Inc.Food staging device, method of storing foods, and method of making a sandwich
WO2013149549A1 *Mar 19, 2013Oct 10, 2013Shenzhen East Innovator Technology Co., LtdSmart tableware-carrying apparatus, catering system, and catering method
Classifications
U.S. Classification312/306
International ClassificationA47J39/00, A47B57/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47J39/003
European ClassificationA47J39/00A
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Dec 27, 2002ASAssignment
Owner name: HENNY PENNY CORPORATION, OHIO
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:KOOPMAN, PETER J.;REEL/FRAME:013614/0192
Effective date: 20021213