Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’s Walk-In Cooler

Kegs are big. Kegs are extremely heavy. This is not news to anyone that’s moved a full keg before. I did my fair share of keg toting during a five-year tenure as kitchen manager at a local Italian restaurant and bar. We had 10 constantly rotating beer taps and a walk-in beer cooler down a long flight of stairs. Not good times.

On top of that, our walk-in cooler was a complete disaster. With all the tapped kegs, back ups and cases of food and beverage, it was nearly impossible to maneuver with any urgency. As if a Friday night dinner rush needed an added degree of difficulty, climbing over kegs to retrieve a heavy case of cheese, a bulky tray of liter cola, or to change a keg only added unnecessary frustration to an already stressful situation. Hindsight being 20/20, I’m using this space to present a few options I wish I’d been aware of while fighting a losing battle against an overcrowded beer cooler.

One solution when cooler space is at a premium is a classic keg storage rack. These sturdy and durable shelves make keg organization a snap and are available in so many shapes and sizes, you’re sure to find one to suit your needs.

Two of the niftier alternative solutions are the Keg Stacker and Keg Spacer. The Keg Stacker eliminates the need for shelving and is much safer and more organized than the teetering tower of beer and steel you have in your cooler right now. The Keg Spacer is similar, but even more flexible as it allows you enough of a gap between the stacked kegs to tap the bottom one. These items can be used to maximize the space in even the smallest beer coolers.

Finally, we return to the original revelation that kegs are big and heavy. The easy answer for moving a keg is, naturally, to make the dishwasher do it. Fun to watch and easier on your back, keg dollyin the end you may find yourself filling out an incident report explaining how your 140-pound, 17-year-old dishwasher ended up pinned under a 160-pound keg at the bottom of the stairs.
That’s a lot of unnecessary paperwork.

Fortunately, there are safer, smarter methods of keg transport. A keg dolly is a compact and effective way of moving full kegs, but it doesn’t help on stairs and the keg must still be lifted onto the dolly. The ultimate solution for safe and easy keg mobility is the Keg Cart. It’s basically a hand truck designed specifically for kegs. This cart maneuvers unwieldy kegs with relative ease, over curbs, up and down stairs and in the tight quarters of a crowded walk-in cooler.

Although there are times I miss the characters you meet and up-tempo pace associated with working in a restaurant, I don’t miss dragging full kegs downstairs one step at a time and jockeying for space in a crowded walk-in cooler. My pain is your gain… I’ve presented to you the tools, do yourself a favor and use them.

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