Title:
Modular kitchen storage tower
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The modular kitchen storage tower is a device for the temporary storage of prepared foods while awaiting service to the diner. The tower has a column or post that supports a plurality of rotating platforms on which plates, bowls, pots, serving trays and the like can be placed. The platforms have a rotational mechanism similar to a Lazy Susan mechanism, e.g., a pair of disks with ball bearings disposed between the disks, mounted on their bottom surface. The post may have a plurality of annular notches defined therein spaced apart throughout its length. A lock pin may extend radially through a disk of the rotational mechanism to engage a notch in the post to releasably secure each platform to the post, thereby permitting height adjustment and disassembly for cleaning. A bracket may be attached to the lower end of the post for attaching the tower to a wall.



Inventors:
Pueyo, Jean Gerard (Anchorage, AK, US)
Pueyo, Gail R. (Anchorage, AK, US)
Application Number:
11/706315
Publication Date:
08/21/2008
Filing Date:
02/15/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ZAGARELLA, SALVATORE
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Richard C. Litman (Alexandria, VA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A modular kitchen storage tower, comprising: a post having a plurality of notches defined therein spaced apart at discrete intervals; and a plurality of circular platforms, each of the platforms having a central bore defined therein and a bottom surface, the platforms being slidable on the post, each of the platforms having: an upper disk and a lower disk, the upper disk being rotatable on the lower disk, the upper disk being attached to the bottom surface of the platform, the upper and lower disks having concentric bores defined therein aligned with the central bore in the platform, the post being slidable through the aligned bores, the lower disk having a radial bore defined therethrough; and a lock pin extendable through the radial bore and selectively engaging one of the notches, whereby the platforms are releasably attached to the post at selectable discretely spaced intervals and rotatable around the post, the platforms being adapted for supporting serving dishes placed thereon.

2. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 1, wherein said upper and lower disks have annular grooves defined therein, the tower further comprising a bearing assembly disposed in the grooves.

3. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 1, wherein the radial bore is internally threaded, said lock pin comprising a setscrew.

4. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 1, wherein said post has a lower end having a base attached thereto, the tower further comprising a mounting bracket attached to the base, the mounting bracket having a wall plate adapted for attachment to a vertical support.

5. A modular kitchen storage tower, comprising: a post; a plurality of circular platforms adapted for supporting serving dishes placed thereon; means for releasably attaching the platforms to the post at discrete, spaced intervals in order to adjust spacing of the platforms on the post; and means for rotating the platforms around the post.

6. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 5, wherein said post has a plurality of notches defined therein at discrete spaced intervals, said releasably attaching means comprising: a disk attached to a lower surface of each of the platforms; and a lock pin selectively extendable from the disk, the lock pin engaging one of the notches when extended from the disk.

7. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 6, wherein said lock pin comprises a setscrew.

8. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 5, wherein said means for rotating comprises a rotational mechanism attached to each of said platforms, each rotational mechanism comprising an upper disk and a lower disk, the upper disk being attached to a bottom surface of said platform, the upper disk and the lower disk being coaxially mounted on said post, each of the disks having an annular groove defined therein; and a bearing assembly disposed in the grooves between the upper and lower disks.

9. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 8, wherein said bearing assembly comprises a plurality of ball bearings.

10. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 5, further comprising means for mounting said post to a vertical support.

11. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 5, wherein said post has a lower end having a base attached thereto, the tower further comprising a mounting bracket attached to the base, the mounting bracket having a wall plate adapted for attachment to a vertical support.

12. A modular kitchen storage tower, comprising: a post; a plurality of circular platforms rotatably mounted on the post, forming a plurality of rotating tiers, the platforms being adapted for supporting serving dishes placed thereon; and means for adjusting spacing between the platforms in discrete increments.

13. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 12, wherein said post has a plurality of notches defined therein spaced apart at discrete intervals.

14. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 13, wherein said means for adjusting spacing comprises: disks attached to the bottom surface of each of said platforms, respectively, each of the disks having a radially extending bore defined therein; and lock pins disposed in each of the radially extending bores, respectively, the lock pins selectively extending from the bores and engaging one of the notches to selectively attach said platforms to the post at a user-selectable spacing.

15. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 14, wherein said lock pins comprise setscrews.

16. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 14, wherein each of said lock pins comprises a handle extending from the bore for grasping by a user.

17. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 12, wherein each of said platforms further comprises: an upper disk and a lower disk, the upper disk being attached to a bottom surface of said platform, the upper disk and the lower disk being coaxially mounted on said post, each of the disks having an annular groove defined therein; and a bearing assembly disposed in the grooves between the upper and lower disks.

18. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 1 7, wherein said bearing assembly comprises a plurality of ball bearings.

19. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 12, wherein said post has a lower end having a base attached thereto, the tower further comprising a mounting bracket attached to the base, the mounting bracket having a wall plate adapted for attachment to a vertical support.

20. The modular kitchen storage tower according to claim 12, wherein at least one of said platforms further comprises: a cooling device and a heating device disposed on an underside of the at least one of said platforms for keeping cold items on a first region of an adjacent platform cold, and hot items on a second region of the adjacent platform hot.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to kitchen facilities, and particularly to a modular kitchen storage tower for temporary storage of plates, trays, and the like, which can be used in any kitchen, but it particularly useful for restaurants, hotel kitchens, and other high volume commercial establishments.

2. Description of the Related Art

Space is a valuable and often scarce commodity in the food preparation area of restaurants, hotel kitchens, and other commercial establishments. Such businesses are often high volume, requiring the simultaneous preparation of several meals. Typically the food is prepared by cooks and served to the diner by a staff of waiters and waitresses, by room service personnel, or other serving staff.

Depending upon the size of the establishment, there is typically some delay between completion of the food preparation and pickup by the serving staff. In most establishments, when the cooking staff completes preparation of a particular order, the plate, bowl, pot, tray, or other serving plate is placed on a counter to wait for pickup by the serving staff. The counter may be in the kitchen itself, or in a window or other transition area between the kitchen and the serving area.

Alternatively, the food preparation staff may place completed orders on carts. While such carts have the advantage of being portable, the carts do occupy additional space in what may already be a crowded food preparation area.

Although such conventional facilities have proved serviceable, they do require considerable space and do not provide for the most economical use of existing space. Because of space limitations, sometimes the counter will be mounted in an elevated location, at shoulder height or above, making it difficult for the serving staff to locate a particular order. Moreover, the serving staff may require considerable time to search the counter to locate a particular order. During peak hours, there may be so many orders being served at the same time, and such a delay in serving the orders, that the counter becomes filled, requiring one order to be stacked on top of another order, or some other expedient to accommodate the rush.

Some of the same problems may be experienced in residential kitchen areas, although usually not such a pressing problem or frequent occurrence. Nevertheless, many residential kitchens are small, and when a dinner party or holiday celebration occurs, the host is often hard-pressed to find sufficient counter space in the kitchen to place the various dishes and dinner servings before taking them to the dining area.

Consequently, there is a need for a device for the temporary storage of prepared food that saves space in the kitchen area and that is convenient for both the food preparation staff and the serving staff to use. Thus, a modular kitchen storage tower solving the aforementioned problems is desired.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The modular kitchen storage tower is a device for the temporary storage of prepared foods while awaiting service to the diner. The tower has a column or post that supports a plurality of rotating platforms on which plates, bowls, pots, serving trays and the like can be placed. The platforms have a rotational mechanism, e.g., a pair of disks with a bearing assembly disposed between the disks, mounted on their bottom surface. The post may have a plurality of annular notches defined therein spaced apart throughout its length. A lock pin may extend radially through a disk of the rotational mechanism to engage a notch in the post to releasably secure each platform to the post, thereby permitting height adjustment and disassembly for cleaning. A bracket may be attached to the lower end of the post for attaching the tower to a wall, cabinet, or other vertical support.

These and other features of the present invention will become readily apparent upon further review of the following specification and drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an environmental, perspective view of a modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a bottom view of the modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention, shown with a bracket for mounting the tower to a vertical support.

FIG. 3 is an environmental vertical section view of the modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention, shown with a bracket for mounting the tower to a vertical support, the rotational mechanism of one tier partially broken away to show details of the mechanism.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention, shown with a bracket for mounting the tower to a vertical support.

FIG. 5 is a partial side view in section of the modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention, showing details of a single tier.

FIG. 6 is a top view of the modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention, shown with a bracket for mounting the tower to a vertical support.

FIG. 7 is a partial elevational view showing a single tier of the modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an elevational view of an alternative embodiment of a modular kitchen storage tower according to the present invention, partially in section, showing the tower mounted on casters.

FIG. 9 is a partial environmental elevation view, partially in section, showing an anchor bracket for mounting a modular kitchen storage tower of the present invention to a wall or other vertical support.

Similar reference characters denote corresponding features consistently throughout the attached drawings.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As shown in FIGS. 1-9, the present invention is a modular kitchen storage tower 105 for the temporary storage of prepared food while awaiting service to a diner. The tower 105 has a column or post 110 upon which multiple tiers of rotatable platforms 120 are releasably mounted. Dishes, bowls, pots, serving trays, or other serving dishes or utensils may be placed on the platforms 120 while awaiting pickup or service to the diner. A cooling device 121 and a heating device 122 are disposed on an bottom surface of at least one of the rotatable platforms 120 and above an adjacent second platform 120 for keeping cold items on a first region of the adjacent platform 120 cold and hot items on a second region of the adjacent platform 120 hot.

As shown in FIG. 4, the post 120 has a plurality of annular notches 125 defined therein that are spaced apart throughout the length of the post 110. The notches 125 may be spaced equidistantly, or may be staggered at unequal intervals. A base 118 is disposed at the lower end of the post 110. The base 118 is shown in FIG. 1 as a frustoconical collar or flange attached to, or adapted for attachment to, a bracket 119 for attaching the tower 105 to a vertical support, as described further below

Alternatively, the base 118 may be a cylindrical flange attached to a flat plate adapted for freestanding placement on, or attachment to, a horizontal support, e.g., the floor of the room, bottom wall of a cabinet, window ledge, sill, or, as shown in FIG. 8, for attachment to a mobile support 805 at a base receiving aperture 802. It should be noted that disposed on bottom of mobile support 805 are a plurality of wheels, rollers, and the like, such as casters 810. Additionally, as shown in FIG. 9, the base I1 8 may be fitted in a wall bracket receiving aperture 902 of a bracket, such as wall bracket 905. Wall bracket 905 has a slotted wall attachment flange 907 that can be removably hooked onto fixed wall anchoring hardware 910. Wall attachment hardware 910 can be permanently attached to a recess in wall W to provide a plumb fit of the bracket 905, and has a pin that can be engaged by slotted flange 907 to provide wall support of the storage tower 105. Alternatively, a metal plate (not shown) may be embedded into the wall W to provide an attachment surface for a support bracket and release lever, the bracket having permanent magnetic properties.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 6, each platform 120 is round or circular, having a central bore defined therein having an inner diameter slightly larger than the exterior diameter of the post 110 so that the platforms 120 are slidable on the post 110. As shown in FIGS. 3, 5, and 6, each platform 120 has a rotational mechanism mounted on its bottom surface. The rotational mechanism may be, e.g., an upper disk 115 and lower disk 132 having grooves 133b and 133a, respectively, defined therein, with a bearing assembly 131 disposed in the grooves 133a and 133b so that upper disk 115 rotates over lower disk 132. The bearing assembly 131 may comprise upper and lower bearing races with ball bearings disposed therebetween, or a ball thrust bearing, such as those used in lazy Susans and turntables. Alternatively, the rotational mechanism may comprise mating frictionless disk bearings, or any other rotational mechanism providing for rotation of a disk about a post. Disks 115 and 132 have concentric bores 136 defined therein aligned with the bore defined in platform 120 so that the rotational mechanism is slidable on post 110.

Lower disk 132 is releasably secured to the post 110 by lock pin 130, which extends through a radial bore 135 defined in lower disk 132 to engage one of the notches 125 defined in post 110. Lock pin 130 may have a handle 134 that can be rotated over an angular interval, e.g., 90°, to move between a locked position in which pin 130 engages notch 125 to prevent axial sliding of platform 120 on post 110, and an unlocked position in which platform 120 is slidable on post 110. Lock pin 130 may be a setscrew externally threaded throughout the length of the shaft to engage internally threaded bore 135. Alternatively, lock pin 130 may have a spring-biased extendable shaft for engaging notches 125. Releasable engagement of lock pins 130 with notches 125 permits height adjustment or spacing between the platforms 120 at the discrete intervals provided by notches 125 (bowls and pots may require greater spacing between tiers than plates), selective removal of platforms 120 to adjust the number of tiers, and removal of all platforms 120 for hygienic cleaning or transport of the tower 105.

Referring to FIG. 3, the tower 105 may have a mounting bracket 119 for mounting on a wall, cabinet, or other vertical support. The bracket 119 has a wall plate 140 that can be removably attached to the vertical support by appropriate fasteners, such as threaded handwheels 137. Threaded shaft of handwheel 137 extends from a knob in such a manner that the handwheel 137 can be flush to the wall plate 140 when the tower 105 is attached to the vertical support using the handwheels 137. The use of handwheels 137 provides for quick and convenient attachment to, and removal from, the vertical support for easy set up and breakdown of the tower 105 in a plurality of locations. As noted above, alternatively the base 118 may include a mounting plate for attachment to a horizontal support surface, such as the floor. The tower 105 may be mounted in any convenient location. In a commercial establishment, a preferred location may be a transition area between the food preparation area and the dining area, such as in a window in a partition wall, so that the food preparation staff may place the plates or other serving dishes on one of the platforms 120 and rotate the platform 120 so that the plate is visible to the dining area.

It will be seen that the modular kitchen tower 105 provides for a more economical use of available space than extended horizontal counters, and provides the serving staff with the convenience of rotatable platforms 120 for quicker location of orders. In addition, releasable attachment of the platforms 120 provides for height adjustment to accommodate serving dishes of various heights, as well as convenient hygienic cleaning of the platforms 120.

It is to be understood that the present invention is not limited to the embodiment described above, but encompasses any and all embodiments within the scope of the following claims.





 
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