Raqtan hands over 'one of biggest kitchens ever'
Saudi-based food service and equipment company Raqtan has handed over what it believes to be one of the world’s largest kitchens.
The company planned and implemented the kitchen facilities for the US $5.3-billion new campus of Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh.
Spread over eight million square metres (26 million feet), the mega-project can host up to 50,000 students in its 15 departments.
Mohammed Ali Khalil business development and marketing manager for Raqtan said among the challenges were separating the service staff from the students, which is why service tunnels underground were built.
“The kitchen will be able to serve 120,000 meals a day, the kitchen will produce that kind of capacity daily and will have the storage area to hold it as well,” he said.
“We are waiting for the final part of our commission which is to train the caterers. We are waiting for them to make that decision as it is a bidding process on who gets the catering tender.”
Strategic and operational manager Raqtan, Muthanna Abdulaziz said the company handed over the project last month.
“We think it is one of the biggest kitchens ever built,” he said.
“A project like this has to be difficult because you always have to keep your base customers not worried that you will be distracted by a piece of business like this. The project itself isn’t a problem, but being able to get a project this size accomplished and your day-to-day customer not feeling it is the biggest headache,” he added.
The campus will also be a car-free environment, operating a shuttle monorail train and electric buggies for internal transport, while solar panels stretched on the campus will reportedly generate 18% of the power needed for air-conditioning.
Winterhalter Middle East regional manager Middle East Ralf Degenhardt said the Saudi food service market was going through a dramatic change, being led by companies like Raqtan.
“The dealers used to have very agency exclusivity-orientated approach, so basically they collected the brand, sat in the showroom and waited for a customer to come. They could not offer a full solution to the investor. This is changing now and Raqtan is the first company I have seen doing this,” he said.
“They focus on their customers, solution provision and not collecting a piece here and piece there and just pushing it. They focus on the solution as the whole package, whether it’s coffee shops, restaurants and hotels, or the big projects such as the Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University.”