prep table died . . . buying replacement, need advice

I just had our 48" sanwich prep table die and I am looking for some sage advice on things to make sure I consider in buying a new one. Like everyone else, I don’t have cash laying around to just buy the biggest, baddest cooler out there. Does anyone feel imspird to hop on the thought train? I’ll be deciding tonight or tomorrow and getting it shipped in. Lots and lots of ice packs are doing a good job since the food is rotating out quickly enough these last few days.

What I do have included so far in my consideration is this:

  • this is the base for our wings, sandwiches, fried appetizer and pasta preparations. These account for right at 33% of sales with more potentai volume as we do some upcoming monthly specials.

  • 48" is probably too small right now, but we are comfortble with it. Too much more volume, and we will start feeling the pinch. We ned to go at least to a 60" 16-bin unit. but don’t want to leave money on the table if the 72" is achievble for a undred bucks. Am I likely to regret getting the 60" as my upgrade from the 48" 12-bin?

  • My expectation is that having more under-cooler space will make us more efficient and decrease service times by having more items at hand underneath. Fewer steps to reload, more time on station doing actual preparation would lead to better service times and more precision and less fatigue. Al lead to increased productivity.

  • I have plenty of space on my cook line for 60" as well as the 72". Durability of the two units is a question. Do I put more strain on the same compressor in the bigger unit? Do the bigger units have bigger compressors? Will energy use be comparable?

  • BRANDS IMPORTANT: What to avoid is more likely to be useful. I am looking at affordability versus dependability like everone out there. The top tier is an absolute no-can-do. The high end custom boxes and the super pizza prep tables the big operations use . . . . not what I need or can afford. I have found a fairly economy brand “ASCEND” (Jimex) that seems to have replaced ColdTech(?) that I can get locally, has 2yr/warranty, and has held up well for my pizza station now for two years with zero issues. I am looking to stay in the $2500 n3eghborhood, which gets me the 72" ASCEND unit. TRUE is more, and not the brand I’ve heard good reliability stories for.

So, there is my stream of consciousness on what iss going into my decision-making. We are looking now to get a piccture of our cashflow to be able to manage payments on this thing. My goal is to have it paid off in 6 months, if possible. May not be . . . . we do not have the option to pay cash without selling an organ on the black market or something.

Nick you have years more experience in this market than I can claim but I just wanted to toss my two cents onto the floor.

We purchased brand new True keg coolers, back bar bottle cooler, and a True worktop freezer when we set our kitchen and Pub up. We have had the service man out on EVERY piece of True equipment we purchased and it’s all been within 60 days of owning it! There was nothing serious wrong, just multitudes of ticky-tack crap like a fan shroud not installed correctly, drain hoses not clamped, etc. but to me it gives a real solid picture of a company that has stopped caring about their customer AND their product. I would search long and hard when it comes time to replace ANY other piece of refrg. gear here.

I have watched a few of the national auction houses sell off nearly new, and mostly unused prep tables from the national chain places where folks were supposed to flock into and fix up a weeks’ worth of dinners. “Dinners by Design”, and “Super Suppers” are two of the chains that seem to be folding everywhere they locate. The prep tables I’ve seen are in remarkable shape and depending on the auction and the crowd I’ve seen sell for as low as $985 but also up to nearly new at the last sale for $2200. Every store I’ve watched has six identical units for sale, may be worth checking out.

Was in exactly the same boat a few months ago - couldn’t drop $5-6K on a prep table.

Ended up buying a new “Leader” off Ebay.

Chinese made.

1/3 - 1/2 the price of anything else.

Built like a tank. Standard refrigeration stuff.

Chinese made. Not the fanciest thing you’ll see.

I’d do it again, in a heartbeat…

My prep table also just packed it in. I chose to have it refurbished as the size is what I really need. Total cost on the refurb was $850. That included new compressor, coil and door gaskets. Cost of a new table that would meet my needs and desires $7000.

I’ve got a 10 yr old 5’ True/2-door split top…haven’t put a dime into it since the purchase…

go figure. Maybe it is just the upright coolers that I have heard bad about. I bought one new, and had to have it worked on three times in a year. I have some ancient wonders that haven’t had work done since I bought them 5 years ago used. It is always such a crap shoot, huh.

I may revisit True this weekend. I gotta decide by Monday to get it in a decent time next week. Ice packs really do inhle most vigorously!

What does “die” mean? I’ve replaced the compressor in both prep tables (two stores) over the years and just replaced the gaskets again on my 90" makeline. The thought of buying a new one at this juncture is just not even in the realm of possibilities.

Perhaps I’m in the minority, but most of the parts I’ve found to be replaceable and a good refrigeration tech will give you an honest assessment of repair/replace. If both the compressor and evaporator are shot, you may be have no choice, but a compressor and a set of gaskets, even hinges, is still much less than a new box…assuming your box is still usable.

Nick, give me a call if you’d like.

I have had two pieces of leader equip.

The first one is a prep table we ordered off ebay. The guy delivered it to us (the seller, not a shipping company) once we started getting it through the door, which wasnt working so well, He got a call. By call he meant leaving. We were stuck outside the store with a prep table that would not fit. After we got it in, this table went down 6 times in 2 years, losing everything in it. It happened so many times we would come in and load it in the am. We replaced it today with a Marsal Supreme. I love it. See other thread.

The second was a leader deli case. We figured we had a fluke so a different company sold us a brand new 6 foot deli case. It was great for 2200, what a steal. Until we came in the next day with it running fans, no compressor. We lost everything. $250 worth of boarshead meats, cheeses, salads, etc. All withing the first 24 hours.They upheld their warranty fixed it. A month later it started making this ridiculous noise. The fan was hitting something. So irratating I would unplug it for minutes at a time just not to hear it. I called them told them I want my money back. They picked it up a week later.

Please don’t waste your money on this company. THEY ARE ALL GARBAGE.I usually look to you guys to save me headaches and thats all i’d like to pass on to you.

PS. I don’t know much about true but I can tell you they must be at least decent for all the major beverage companies to give them out. I’d say reliability is what they would look for. I’d try to be cool with the coke or pepsi guys, They may just be able to fix your true fridge for a couple of bucks :wink:

We need compressor, and there was already a slow coolant leak found in January. This is third call on this one in under a year. Most likely in the condensor coil. Needs gaskets, and the size is a little small for what we are going to ned going forward. So, $800 to replace compressor and gaskets and temp control switch . . . more to deal with the leak . . . . and have a cooler that is going to have to be replaced sometime this year with a parger one, or buy a second small one.

OR we go ahead and sell the cabinet to someone who wants to put a new system in it, and get us the one we need. The decision to get a bigger unit really is the correct one for us. If we re-compressor/gasket this one, we will not replace it for at least a year or more just to get our money’s worth. New unit has the NSF 7(?) compliant configurations, has a warranty for a couple years all around, and gives us expansion for greater efficiency and order turnaround time. It is the right business decision, just hate the timing and expense. Go figure; it’s never a good time for one to die.


I notice you said Sand. prep table. That is what we are using as well. In December I found a good deal at It is a M3 Series Mega Top 3 Door. Tons of storage underneath. We were surprised at how much cheaper it was compared to some we were looking at.
• M3 Series Mega Top sandwich prep table
• Three section
• Self contained
• 23 cubic feet
• 45 2/5" overall height with casters
• Stainless steel interior & exterior except inside wall & back
• (3) polyethylene coated wire shelf
• Recessed door handle
• Holds temp at 33° to 39°F
• (30) standard 1/6 size 4" deep condiment pans included
• Two hoods
• 5" swivel casters
• 1 year parts & labor warranty
• 5 year compressor warranty … 0|12|7|1|0
Sure turbo air may not be the best but it was a great deal. Total delivered was 2360.11. Still waiting to see what the catch is. Compared to the old faithful one we had this one is a beauty!


I think this is the same table that Kris linked to but selling for $400 cheaper. Still free shipping as well. … 5d27116fa9

Kris’s link was to a mega top, but both look like afully good machines for what I want to do . . . Turbo Air is what I am looking at considering buying from a local dealer in Atlanta. I can get is cheaper than you listed bya couple hundred bucks, and I can go get it Monday. Might get a couple bucks more off for picking it up versus delivery. They ship out of metro-Atlanta wearhouse anyway, IIRC. No scheduling delivery and hassling with lift gates and pallets. Just take trailer up to the dealer, and roll it of here in town.

Not completely sold on turbo-air yet. Price is right, but are they durable enough to give me 6 to 10 years of good service. That would give me a 6th refrigeration manufacturer in house. Two more and I get a set of steak knives. :slight_smile:

I went from true to continental. I think continental is much better for the same price. Not much bottom storage in their sandwich prep table though. I would go with the pizza prep table.

I used a True worktop freezer, a True Prep table (5 or 6 foot), a Coldtech sandwhich table, a La Rosa Prep Table, and some prep used prep table I found on ebay (not sure of brand, couldn’t find, thinking royal though).

Used the worktop freezer for the 3 years I was there, only repair I know of was a new fan motor. It maintained an average temp of -18F. After awhile, we had a hard time keeping the temp right in the True Prep table (either too cold or too hot, couldnt ever get it dialed back in), no repairs that I know of. Used the Coldtech for about a year and a half, had to put a new overload on the compressor (probably my fault). Didn’t much care for the top rail design of the La Rosa table. no fans in the top rail, just coils around it. Had to chip ice off of it every night. The ebay table had cooled pans under grates to catch ingrenients. This thing would have so much condensation that the condensation pan was always overflowing all over the floor. Sure cooled good though, but the parts inside the box looked retrofit and practically made one of the doors unusable.

I got to the point of blowing all my refer equipment out once a week with compressed air. You might be surprised how much flour the coils in those things can accumulate. It also keeps them running cooler, which makes them more efficient and last longer. Me personally, i’d probably choose a True table or look at a Delfield table. The coldtech wasn’t a bad table, but something about the company bothers me. It was, however, easy to clean out as the whole refrigeration deck in the back slid out. I’m sure most of that stuff is still running except for the La Rosa (believed to have put a hole in the top rail coil).

Coldtech by Jimex has changed branding over to ASCEND. Same mother company . . . different brand . . . same little logo with three blocks. Called a dealer, and they said they changed the name and ‘improved the equipment’. I don’t know the whole story, but their equip is a little more expensive. Somthing else about name confusion with another company out there.

I’ve had a True Pizza table and freezer for about 13 to 14 years now. They have both been pretty reliable with a few repairs. freezer needed new fans (my fault) and timer, but basically minor repairs. and the cooler needed some switch that was around a $50.00 repair.

Bought a Turbo air 4 years ago, and I would not buy another one of these units. The parts seem to be exclusive to Turbo air and expensive to replace. 1st thing to go was a hinge for the top $50.00 + shipping and handling. and I just had to have the thermostat replaced, the guy that did it had a thermostat that he said would fit 90% of any unit out there, but not this one. he still hasn’t told me how much it costs to get this one, but he did say it wasn’t cheap.

I have these sitting up against walls, I like the trues front compressor. I have had problems with the ones that are on the back on the units, as they don’t seem to get enough air in the summer months.

I just got a True TPP-93 on ebay for $1375. With freight it came to about $1900. Compared to the $5000 price tag new, I can afford to fix it a few times if I need to.

We have a True double door freezer. We had to replace the compressor after a while. It was covered under warranty. Other than that, no work ever for 11 years. We also had a work top freezer and a 60" prep table from True in our 2nd store location. We bought them in place when we got the store and used them another 10 years without issues… and sold them used last spring. They are still in service.

Parts are easy to get. Most things can be easily swapped out. Do True units get a lot of talk about repairs? I guess so. I wonder though if we hear about it so ofter since there are so many more of them out there than any thing else. Our repair guy says they are more reliable than most and much easier to work on when they do need work and that parts can be had in a day from a variety of sources rather than waiting to have them shipped from the manufacturer.

Ya I am still not sure on turbo air. We have only had it since dec so of course it is still “shining” but I know for the price and since I was in a bind and it was here within a couple of days it was “lifesaving” to us. We have had several trues at both stores 3 in 15 years and they held up with no complaints but I was sold on price this time. I am gonna need one at our other store here probably within a year or so we have a gigantic pizza prep table we got used for about the same price but I have come to realize I will not buy used refridgeration ever again. I have even thought of buying the thing and storing it in the garage so when the other one dies I am ready. :lol: