Middleton High School


Middleton, WI

Foodservice Design, Equipment Specification & Installation

Middleton High School in Middleton, WI had not seen a major renovation of the main kitchen in over 50 years. Together with Boelter, the school undertook a total transformation of its foodservice program.  

Brett Kroening, project manager at Boelter, worked with staff at Middleton High School to design new spaces, source equipment and oversee installation for the main kitchen and serving area, a smaller satellite kitchen, and a Pro Start teaching kitchen.

Once the new spaces were up and running, the benefits of the renovation came through in many ways:

  1. Staff enjoys a better work environment, thanks to updated equipment and improved efficiencies.
  2. Student participation in meal service continues to grow. More students eating on campus not only improves revenue for the school but also ensures students receive nutritious meals.
  3. The Pro Start program was able to add more types of classes to prepare students for careers in foodservice.

Improved Efficiencies Lead to a Better Overall Experience

Meal service in a K-12 setting is unique in the fact that students all descend on the serving area at once, which means paying attention to traffic flow is a top priority. In the previous set up, students entered from various points and scattered to two service lines. The new design incorporates one u-shaped serving line, so students file in from a more orderly direction and the line is equipped to move traffic through quickly.

The serving area is supported by a highly efficient workflow coming from the kitchen. Receiving and storage flows right into production, then to hot and cold storage cabinets which supply the serving lines. “Everything feeds into the cooking core, even the warewash, for a connected system that aids in production and improves efficiencies within the kitchen,” Kroening says. “There are fewer wasted steps and increased staff efficiencies.”

Kinley Hotel bar

The highlight of the renovation for the kitchen staff is the updated equipment. “It was great having Brett’s knowledge when it came to sourcing the right types of equipment and even designing the space so it would all fit together perfectly,” says Amy Jungbluth, supervisor, Middleton Cross Plains Food and Nutrition Department. A few standouts include:

  • A new steamer. This kitchen essential hooks up to the water line so all staff has to do is push a button and it fills, rather than having to manually pour in the water.
  • Alto Shaam warmers. These keep food hot without requiring water in a well underneath, which would boil off over time and develop an unpleasant odor.
  • Dishmachine with longer clean rack. The new Hobart dishmachine is not only more efficient in water use than the counterpart it replaced, Kroening allowed space for a longer clean rack so staff can load more dishes in without having to stop, wash their hands, and unload the clean side.

Ramping up Production in the Satellite Kitchen

Before the renovation, the entire foodservice operation of Middleton was fractured. All the cooking took place in the main kitchen, and food was taken to different areas to serve students. With the new design all of the serving is streamlined into the main cafeteria, except for one satellite meal service area. However, there is a very big difference – the satellite area now includes its own kitchen.

Jungbluth knew she didn’t want to be carting food up and down the long halls, let alone returning dirty dishes at the end of the service. Her challenge to Kroening was to help design a kitchen within a small space that would be self-sufficient. Called the South Kitchen, the area now has a double stack convection oven, a steamer, hot holding cabinets and a dishwasher. “It’s a tight space but we are able to get a lot done in there, thanks to equipment that can do a variety of types of cooking, and Brett’s careful attention to space,” Jungbluth says.

Having two separate kitchens gives Jungbluth the opportunity to add some creative new menu items to the foodservice production. The South Kitchen has produced potstickers with ramen, meatball subs and fiesta Bento boxes, in addition to the grab-and-go sandwiches and packaged food that fill the cold cases for students in a hurry.

Kinley Hotel bar

Expanding Students’ Culinary Education

In addition to the two kitchens designed to serve meals to students, the scope of work for Boelter on the Middleton High School project also included designing and sourcing a new Pro-Start kitchen. Working with Kroening and Boelter brought just the talent needed to equip the kitchen with professional equipment that would be found in a restaurant while navigating the planning and management specific to K-12 school projects.

The classroom consists of a teaching station with a combi oven and walk-in coolers for storage. The eight student sections each have a hand sink, a prep sink, mixer and shelving, and the stations are designed to share portions of a 10-burner gas range. “Brett knew how important it was for the students to work on a commercial, gas oven and stove top,” says Tara Bradford, Family and Consumer Science Education Teacher. “That meant each station needed a hood with a fire suppression system. Brett knew how to present it to the school system to get that approved in the budget.”

Adding the foodservice-grade Pro Start kitchen to the existing home kitchen has helped the school expand not only the number of classes it offers to students but the types as well. For example, a two-block class called Culture and Cuisine incorporates the study of Asian history and culture with learning to prepare foods from those countries. And with the addition of the combi-oven, the school added a class focused on baking and yeast doughs.

Putting the Customer First from Day One

Through all the different design elements, equipment needs and planning of three separate kitchens in the Middleton High School project, one thing that remained constant was Boelter’s commitment to customer service.

  • Collaboration. Kroening brought years of experience in foodservice, specifically K-12 designs, to the project. But he also came to the project open to the ideas and wishes of the team at Middleton. From the beginning of the project Kroening worked directly with Jungbluth, drawing out designs and talking about what equipment would work best. “Brett was always very patient, and listened to what I had to say,” Jungbluth says. “I would have an idea, and then he made it happen because he had all the knowledge about utilities, space considerations, ADA compliance and all the regulations.”
  • Installation. Timing is everything in K-12 projects. Most of the construction and installation happens in a very short window of time during the summer when students aren’t in school. Kroening worked to have everything ready to go by making use of Boelter’s warehousing capabilities to hold equipment until time for installation. He not only oversaw the work, but also came during the first week of school to make sure things ran smoothly.
  • Continued Support. Months after the Pro Start kitchen was complete, a student accidentally dropped a Globe mixer and the top broke off. Within 24 hours Brett had contacted the manufacturing company who sent a new part at no cost. “Even after the work of the project was completed, Boelter’s there to provide customer service when we need it, which helps us continue to focus on our students,” Bradford says.

Learn more about Brett Kroening and his extensive project portfolio

Read More about our K-12 segment expertise.

Partner with us on your next project - contact us to get started.