Mack II Inc., which operates three Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen restaurants in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, plans to replace the refrigerators in one of the outlets next month with propane (R290) units from Victory Refrigeration.

The new units are part of a five-year remodeling process that will close the restaurant for three to four weeks, said Cheryl Evans, maintenance supervisor for Mack II, which runs a number of other franchised outlets at the airport, including Baja Fresh Mexican, Phillips Seafood and Atlanta Bread. The Popeyes restaurant being remodeled is the chain’s highest-revenue unit in the world, with more than $6 million generated annually, she said.

The R290 fridges – at a sandwich station and workstation, and an under-counter cooler – will reside in the kitchen behind the serving counter. The freezers are not being replaced.

While the Popeyes corporate typically dictates equipment choices to franchises, “they listen to what I say now,” said Evans. 

She selected the Victory units because they offer “the only doors we don’t destroy” and are the only units “that meet all of the temperature requirements in airport inspections.” Doors, she added “are the key to keeping the temperature correct.”

Victory has switched all of its equipment to R290, Evans noted. She has concerns about R290 because “nobody is really trained on it.” On the other hand, based on videos she has seen, “it doesn’t look like it’s that difficult.” Mack II trains its own technicians.

She was also concerned about R290’s flammability since the fridges will be adjacent to fryers. “I talked extensively to the factory before I made the decision and I felt like we could handle the changes. 

She is also encouraged by the warranty on the units, which provide three years part and labor and five years on the compressor. 

Evans has been using Coilpod dust hoods to periodically clean condenser coils in her refrigerators and freezers. The hoods enable vacuuming of dust and debris from the unit without scattering it in the store. “I love [the dust hoods],” she said. “This enables us to clean coils during regular work shifts without the overtime expense of making this a night job.”

“I talked extensively to the factory before I made the decision [to use propane] and I felt like we could handle the changes.”

Cheryl Evans, Mack II

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