Title:
Component Foodservice Counter Systems and Methods
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
According to the invention, a component foodservice counter system is disclosed. The system may include a first vertical plate member, a second vertical plate member, a plurality of lateral structural members, and a counter top. The plurality of lateral structural members may couple the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member, with each of the plurality of lateral structural members possibly mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate and the second vertical plate. The counter top may be supported by at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members.



Inventors:
Ackerman, Mike (Englewood, CO, US)
Voigt, Dave (Thornton, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/759831
Publication Date:
12/11/2008
Filing Date:
06/07/2007
Assignee:
Brass Smith, LLC (Denver, CO, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
29/428
International Classes:
A47B96/18
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20050225218Appliance console bottom attachmentOctober, 2005Cheo et al.
20090284111No-tools breakdown furnitureNovember, 2009Hazzard et al.
20100096957BAMBOO FRAME STRUCTURE-BASED WARDROBEApril, 2010Wang
20050023939Mountable gravity-feed dispenserFebruary, 2005Kramer et al.
20070290588Display Unit Installing Structure for RefrigeratorDecember, 2007Oh et al.
20060261712CASEGOODS WITH CABLE MANAGEMENT FEATURESNovember, 2006Henriott et al.
20090153006No-tools interchangeable drawer front systemJune, 2009Hazzard et al.
20030151336COMPUTER FURNITUREAugust, 2003Freeman
20040140742Table device for supporting computerJuly, 2004Liu
20080019036POSITIONING DEVICE ADAPTED FOR POSITIONING A DETACHABLE MODULE IN A HOUSINGJanuary, 2008Chu et al.
20060071581Stackable, interlocking carrying cases for making a modular desk having a removable desk topApril, 2006Harvey



Primary Examiner:
ROHRHOFF, DANIEL J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - West Coast (Atlanta, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A component foodservice counter system, wherein the system comprises: a first vertical plate member; a second vertical plate member; a plurality of lateral structural members coupling the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member, wherein each of the plurality of lateral structural members are mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate and the second vertical plate; and a counter top supported by at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members.

2. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein the system further comprises at least one vertical member mechanically coupling at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members to at least one other of the plurality of lateral structural members.

3. The component foodservice counter system of claim 2, wherein the system further comprises a fascia mechanically coupled with at least one of the vertical members.

4. The component foodservice counter system of claim 3, wherein an entire profile of the fascia is substantially geometrically similar to at least some portion of a front profile of at least one of the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member.

5. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein the system further comprises a plurality of legs, wherein each of the plurality of legs is mechanically coupled with one of the plurality of lateral structural members, and wherein the legs are configured to at least partially support the system.

6. The component foodservice counter system of claim 5, wherein each of the plurality of legs being mechanically coupled with one of the plurality of lateral structural members comprises the leg being movably coupled.

7. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member are configured to at least partially support the system on a surface.

8. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein the first vertical plate member defines a cavity configured to allow mechanical or electrical components to pass through the first vertical plate member.

9. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the lateral structural members are curved.

10. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein the system further comprises a plurality of tray slide bars, wherein the plurality of tray slide bars are at least partially supported by the first vertical plate member.

11. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein the counter top defines at least one cavity configured to receive a foodservice apparatus.

12. The component foodservice counter system of claim 1, wherein at least one of the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member at least partially define a profile of at least one of a front of the component foodservice counter system and a back of the component foodservice counter system.

13. The component foodservice counter system of claim 12, wherein the profile of the front of the component foodservice counter system is a selection from a group consisting of: a curve, a substantially straight line, a combination of multiple curves, a combination of multiple lines, and a combination of at least one curve and at least one substantially straight line.

14. A method of building a component foodservice counter system, wherein the method comprises: providing a first vertical plate member; providing a second vertical plate member; providing a plurality of lateral structural members; coupling, mechanically, each of the plurality of lateral structural members with the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member; and providing a counter top; supporting the counter top with at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members.

15. The method of building a component foodservice counter system of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises: providing at least one vertical member; and coupling, mechanically, at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members to at least one other of the plurality of lateral structural members with at least one vertical member.

16. The method of building a component foodservice counter system of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises coupling, mechanically, a fascia with at least one of the vertical members.

17. The method of building a component foodservice counter system of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises coupling, mechanically and movably, a plurality of legs with the plurality of lateral structural members, wherein the plurality of legs are configured to at least partially support the system.

18. The method of building a component foodservice counter system of claim 14, wherein at least one of the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member are configured to at least partially support the system.

19. The method of building a component foodservice counter system of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises inserting, at least partially, a foodservice apparatus into a cavity defined by the counter top.

20. A component foodservice counter system, wherein the system comprises: a first vertical plate member; a second vertical plate member; a third vertical plate member; a first plurality of lateral structural members coupling the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member, wherein each of the first plurality of lateral structural members are mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member; a second plurality of lateral structural members coupling the second vertical plate member with the third vertical plate member, wherein each of the second plurality of lateral structural members are mechanically coupled with the second vertical plate member and the third vertical plate member; and a counter top supported by the second vertical plate member.

21. The component foodservice counter system of claim 20, wherein the second vertical plate member defines a cavity configured to allow mechanical or electrical components to pass through the second vertical plate member.

22. The component foodservice counter system of claim 21, wherein: at least one of the first plurality of lateral structural members defines a channel; at least one of the second plurality of lateral structural members defines a channel; and the cavity is in proximity to both a channel defined by the first plurality of lateral structural members, and a channel defined by the second plurality of lateral structural members.

23. The component foodservice counter system of claim 20, wherein the system further comprises an additional lateral structural member coupling the first vertical plate member to the third vertical plate member, wherein the additional lateral structural member is mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate member and the third vertical plate member.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to foodservice counters and construction methods therefore. More specifically, the invention relates to foodservice counters which are easily assembled without welding operations.

Foodservice counters known in the art are usually heavy, stainless steel structures held together by welded joints. NSF International (formerly National Sanitation Foundation) standards for such foodservice equipment require certain minimum levels of clean-ability for foodservice counters, which makes stainless steel an ideal material because of its resistance to corrosion, and welding an ideal coupling means because of its ability to make relatively smooth coupling joints when compared to mechanical fasteners such as bolts.

However, while stainless steel and welding may provide advantages, there are also multiple disadvantages. Stainless steel is both more expensive and harder to fabricate than more common materials such as carbon steel and aluminum. And welding stainless steel often requires a skilled craftsman, both to weld joints, and to modify pre-cut stainless steel components deformed in the welding process. Typical mechanical fasteners do not significantly deform coupled components, and are usable even by the most unskilled of laborers.

Furthermore, the use of welding rather than traditional fasteners often means that modification of an existing foodservice counter is less economically appealing than construction of an entirely new foodservice counter. Embodiments of the present invention provide solutions to these and other problems.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a component foodservice counter system is provided. The system may include a first vertical plate member, a second vertical plate member, a plurality of lateral structural members, and a counter top. The plurality of lateral structural members may couple the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member, possibly by each of the plurality of lateral structural members being mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate and the second vertical plate. The counter top may be supported by at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members.

In another embodiment, a method of building a component foodservice counter system is provided. The method may include providing a first vertical plate member, a second vertical plate member, and a plurality of lateral structural members. The method may also include coupling, mechanically, each of the plurality of lateral structural members with the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member. The method may further include providing a counter top and supporting the counter top with at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members.

In another embodiment, a component foodservice counter system is provided. The system may include a first vertical plate member, a second vertical plate member, a third vertical plate member, a first plurality of lateral structural members, a second plurality of lateral structural members, and a counter top. The first plurality of lateral structural members may couple the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member, where each of the first plurality of lateral structural members may be mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate member and the second vertical plate member. The second plurality of lateral structural members may couple the second vertical plate member with the third vertical plate member, where each of the second plurality of lateral structural members may be mechanically coupled with the second vertical plate member and the third vertical plate member. The counter top may be supported by the second vertical plate member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention is described in conjunction with the appended figures:

FIG. 1 is a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is an assembled axonometric view the of the component foodservice counter system shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 1, except also having vertical members;

FIG. 4 is a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 3, except where the vertical members are curved to interface with a curved fascia;

FIG. 5 is a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 4, except where legs support the system rather than the vertical plate members;

FIG. 6 is a side view of an adjustable leg which may possibly be used in embodiments of the invention, including the embodiment shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 5, except where the vertical plate members are configured to support tray slide bars;

FIG. 8 is a partially assembled axonometric view the of the component foodservice counter system shown in FIG. 7 showing the tray slide bars in place;

FIG. 9 is a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 7, except where additional members are used to support the tray slide bars rather than the vertical plate members;

FIG. 10 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 7, except having cavities through the vertical plate members so that electrical and plumbing equipment can pass through, as well as provide services to, the system;

FIG. 11 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 10, except having the cavities through the vertical plate members in proximity to the lateral structural members;

FIG. 12 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 10, except having the cavities through the vertical plate members in proximity to the vertical members, as well as cavities through the vertical members;

FIG. 13 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 10, except also showing one possible rear interior insert;

FIG. 14 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention which provides a curved component foodservice counter;

FIG. 15 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 1, except having more than two vertical plate members; and

FIG. 16 is an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 15, except having a lateral structural member that extends from past the center vertical plate member.

In the appended figures, similar components and/or features may have the same numerical reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a letter that distinguishes among the similar components and/or features. If only the first numerical reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components and/or features having the same first numerical reference label irrespective of the letter suffix.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The ensuing description provides exemplary embodiments only, and is not intended to limit the scope, applicability or configuration of the disclosure. Rather, the ensuing description of the exemplary embodiments will provide those skilled in the art with an enabling description for implementing one or more exemplary embodiments. It being understood that various changes may be made in the function and arrangement of elements without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the appended claims.

Specific details are given in the following description to provide a thorough understanding of the embodiments. However, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that the embodiments may be practiced without these specific details. For example, systems, subsystems and methods may be shown as components in block diagram form in order not to obscure the embodiments in unnecessary detail. In other instances, well-known components, structures, processes and techniques may be shown without unnecessary detail in order to avoid obscuring the embodiments.

Also, it is noted that individual embodiments may be described as a process which is depicted as a flowchart, a flow diagram, a data flow diagram, a structure diagram, or a block diagram. Although a flowchart may describe the operations as a sequential process, many of the operations can be performed in parallel or concurrently. In addition, the order of the operations may be rearranged. A process is terminated when its operations are completed, but could have additional steps not included in a figure. A process may correspond to a method, a technique, etc.

Furthermore, embodiments may be implemented by human operated machinery, automated machinery, along with hardware, software, firmware, etc. or any combination thereof. When implemented in software, firmware, etc., the program code or code segments to perform the necessary tasks may be stored in a machine readable medium.

For the purposes of this disclosure, “mechanically coupling” two components shall be defined as excluding thermal based coupling operations such as welding. Some methods of “mechanically coupling” may include the use of fasteners, for example, nuts and bolts, screws, rivets, etc. Other methods of “mechanically coupling” may include interlocking of components using only the components themselves, or the components themselves as well as additional interlocking components. Yet other methods of “mechanically coupling” may include compression and/or interference fitting component together.

In one embodiment of the invention, a component foodservice counter system is provided. The component foodservice counter may be any counter used to conduct foodservices. Foodservices may include, merely by way of example, preparation and presentation of food products. The component food service counter may comply with applicable standards in the foodservice industry such as NSF International standards, for example, NSF International Standard 2.

The component foodservice counter system may include a first vertical plate member, a second vertical plate member, a plurality of lateral structural members, and a counter top. The vertical plate members, as well as any other component in the system, may be fabricated from a material suitable for foodservice use, or a material capable of being sufficiently treated for foodservice use. Merely by way of example, the vertical plate members may be fabricated from a metal (for example, a stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, alloy), a composite, a polymer, and/or a plastic. Laser or plasma cutting tools, and/or other cutting tools may be used to fabricate the material used. Treatments may include, merely by way of example, plastic coatings, polymer coatings, and/or metal powder coatings.

In some embodiments, one or more of the vertical plate members may at least partially define at least some portion of the profile of the component foodservice counter system. The profile of the component foodservice counter system may be broadly defined as the cross sectional shape of the component foodservice, which in some embodiments may be normal to the length of the lateral structural members. Portions of the profile of the component foodservice counter system which may be especially significant are the front and back of the counter system. The front of the counter system may be partially covered by a fascia, discussed below, and some portion of the front profile of the vertical plate members may be geometrically similar (congruent when uniformly scaled) to at least some portion, if not the entire, profile of the fascia. In some embodiments, the front profile of the counter system may include a curve, a substantially straight line, a combination of multiple curves, a combination of multiple lines, and a combination of at least one curve and at least one substantially straight line. In some embodiments, lines and/or curves may meet tangentially.

The lateral structural members, as well as any other component in the system, may be fabricated from a material suitable for structural use. In an exemplary embodiment, galvanized carbon steel sheet metal may be laser cut and formed into structural shapes. Additional possible materials may include other metals, composites, polymer and/or plastics. Laser or plasma cutting tools, and/or other cutting tools may be used to fabricate the material used. In some embodiments, none of the structural members will be used as serviceable surfaces for foodservice, and therefore will not have to be made from materials or have treatments which meet various industry standards, including NSF International Standard 2. A serviceable surface for foodservice may include any surface in which food, or instruments for serving and preparation, may come into contact with during foodservice operations.

The plurality of lateral structural members may couple the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member, in some cases by each of the plurality of lateral structural members being mechanically coupled with the first vertical plate and the second vertical plate. In one embodiment, the two ends of each of the plurality of lateral structural members may each be mechanically coupled with one of the first vertical plate member and the second plate member. In some embodiments, each lateral structural member may include a plurality of lateral structural sub-members. In some embodiments, other members may also be coupled with lateral structural sub-members, with the entire lateral structural member coupling the first vertical plate member with the second vertical plate member.

In some embodiments, at least one of the lateral structural members may be curved. Curved lateral structural members may allow for curved component foodservice counter systems in which the vertical plate members are not parallel to each other. This may allow for corner, transitionary, and/or end-cap component foodservice counter systems, possibly used in proximity to straight component foodservice counter systems.

In some embodiments, the counter top may be supported by at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members. In these or other embodiments, the counter top may be supported by at least one of the vertical plate members. In some embodiments, the counter top may be supported by other members which may be coupled with one or more lateral structural members and/or the vertical plate members. In some embodiments, the may define at least one cavity configured to receive a foodservice apparatus. Foodservice apparatuses may include, merely by way of example, warming surfaces and hot wells. The cavity or cavities may completely or only partially penetrate the body of the counter top.

In some embodiments, the countertop may be mechanically coupled with other components of the invention, such as lateral structural members, from the underside of the counter top. Merely by way of example, screws may be driven through a component and into the underside of the counter top, thereby leaving the top of the counter top uninterrupted by mechanical coupling devices. In these or other embodiments, protruding pieces may be coupled with the underside of the counter top, and the weight of the counter top may keep the counter top in place, with the protruding pieces at least assisting in preventing lateral movement of the counter top when they are in proximity to other components of the system, for example, vertical plate members and/or lateral structural members.

In some embodiments, the system may also include at least one vertical member mechanically coupling at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members to at least one other of the plurality of lateral structural members. In these or other embodiments, at least one vertical member may couple at least one of the plurality of lateral structural members to the countertop. Vertical members may be coupled in proximity to the edges of the counter system, or may be interior components.

In some embodiments, the system may also include at least one fascia mechanically coupled with at least one of the vertical members and/or lateral structural members. The fascia may also be mechanically coupled with one or more of the vertical plate members. In some embodiments, at least some portion of the vertical members and/or any other component of the system may define a curved profile so that a curved surface fascia may be coupled with the system.

The fascia may take any shape, and in some embodiments, the vertical members may take any shape necessary to support the fascia once coupled. In some embodiments, the fascia may be coupled with the vertical members and/or any other component from inside the counter top structure. Merely by way of example, in some embodiments, screws may be driven through a component and into the backside of the fascia, thereby leaving the front of the fascia uninterrupted by mechanical coupling devices.

In some embodiments, the component foodservice counter system may also include a plurality of legs. The plurality of legs may be mechanically coupled with one or more of the plurality of lateral structural members, and may at least partially support the system. In other embodiments, the vertical plate members may at least partially support the system.

In some of these embodiments, one or more of the plurality of legs may be movably coupled with the lateral structural members. In these embodiments, a slot cavity in the lateral structural member may allow a leg to move laterally in the slot, thereby changing the position of the leg. Locking and vertical height mechanisms may allow the leg to be locked into horizontal position, and the vertical height of the leg to be adjusted, possibly to compensate for lack of a uniform flooring surface, or to avoid drainage fixtures therein.

In some embodiments, at least one vertical plate member may define a cavity configured to allow mechanical or electrical components to pass through the vertical plate member. In these or other embodiments, any one or more other components of the system may also define cavities configured to allow mechanical or electrical components to pass through the component.

In some embodiments, where multiple component foodservice counter systems are provided, the cavities in the vertical plate members of each component foodservice counter system may be in at least similar locations such that mechanical or electrical components may pass from one component foodservice counter system to the next. Mechanical or electrical components may include piping and electrical conductor for power and/or foodservice equipment control/feedback.

In some embodiments, the component foodservice counter system may also include a plurality of tray slide bars. In some of these embodiments, the plurality of tray slide bars may at least be partially supported by at least one of the vertical plate members. In other embodiments, additional members may couple the tray slide bars with the component counter top system. The tray slide bars may have any one of a number of possible cross sections, and may have a curved length, possibly to match the curve of the component counter top system. Possible cross sections of the tray slide bars include circular and polygonal cross sections.

In some embodiments, at least one interior insert may be provided and may provide finished serviceable foodservice surfaces on the interior of the component foodservice counter top system. The interior may open to any side of the component foodservice counter top system. In one embodiment, at least some portion of the backside of the component foodservice counter top system may have an insert which opens to an interior volume. In another embodiment, at least some portion of the front side of the component foodservice counter top system may have an insert which opens to an interior volume.

In some embodiments, the interior insert may have shelves prefabricated into the insert. In other embodiments, multiple inserts may be supported my multiple lateral support elements to provide multiple shelves. In some embodiments, both the front and back side may have inserts. Inserts may be mechanically coupled with the bottom of a bottom-most to avoid having a mechanical coupling interrupting a serviceable foodservice surface.

In many embodiments of the invention, some or all of the above described features may allow cosmetic, aesthetic, and/or functional features of the component foodservice counter system to be modified independently of the underlying structure of the counter system. This may provide the advantage of reducing the costs associated with modifying or replacing existing component counter systems to have a different appearance or function. Merely by way of example, the front fascias and/or counter tops may be removed from a component foodservice counter system of the invention, and replaced with new front fascias and/or counter tops, either for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes, or for functional reasons (for example, installation of different foodservice equipment).

Likewise, existing interior inserts can be exchanged for new interior inserts so that the orientation, size, and number of interior storage areas may be changed, possibly while leaving mechanical and electrical chases through the component counter system unaffected. For example, a backside-opening interior insert with no shelves may be replaced by two front side-opening interior inserts. In another example, fascias may exist initially on two sides of the component counter system, and one fascia may be removed and replaced with an interior insert to provide storage. In many embodiments, these cosmetic, aesthetic, and/or functional modifications may occur with no changes to the underlying structure of the counter system. The underlying structure of the counter system may include components such as the vertical plate members, the lateral structural members, and/or the vertical members.

In other embodiments of the invention, methods of building the component foodservice counter systems described are provided. The methods may include mechanically coupling the components of the systems together such that no welding and/or skilled labor is necessary. Some or all components may have prefabricated holes or other features so that mechanical coupling methods may be used to couple each component to another.

In this manner, some embodiments may allow for the systems of the invention to be built without welding when pre-fabricated pieces are supplied, while also providing that no serviceable foodservice surfaces are interrupted by mechanical couplings. Pre-fabricated pieces and/or mechanical coupling components may be provided in kit embodiments, allowing assembly of the systems of the inventions on site.

Turning now to FIG. 1, a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 100 of the invention is shown. Lateral members 110 couple first vertical plate member 120A to second vertical plate member 120B. Counter top 130 and front fascia 140A are also shown. Countertop 130 has two cavities 150 for different foodservice components. Merely by way of example, a hot well may be inserted into cavity 150A, and a warming surface may be inserted into cavity 150B.

Mechanical couplings 160 may couple lateral members 110 with vertical plate members 120. Holes or other cavities in vertical plate members 120 may be pre-fabricated so that mechanical couplings 160 may be used. Holes 170 may allow mechanical couplings and tools to implement mechanical couplings to couple fascia 140A to lateral structural members 110.

FIG. 2 shows an assembled axonometric view 200 the of the component foodservice counter system shown in FIG. 1. Note how no mechanical couplings interrupt the front side of fascia 140A, because the mechanical couplings occur on the backside of fascia 140A, providing an unblemished aesthetic finish. Also note how no mechanical couplings interrupt the top side of counter top 130, because the mechanical couplings occur on the bottom side of counter top 130, providing an smooth serviceable foodservice surface.

FIG. 3 shows a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 300 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 1, except also having vertical members 310. In this embodiment, lateral structural member 110A has been substituted for lateral structural member 110F to more easily allow a mechanical coupling of lateral member 110F with vertical members 310. Vertical members 310 may provide additional support upper lateral structural members 110 when heavy loads are anticipated on counter top 130. Furthermore, vertical members 310 may have different front profiles to allow for different shaped fascias 140 to be coupled with the front of system 300.

Note that in some embodiments, vertical members 310 may not be at the perimeter of system 300, but rather be located in the interior of system 300. In some embodiments, both perimeter vertical members 310, and interior vertical members 310 may be employed. Interior vertical members 310 may be supported and/or coupled with additional lateral structural members 110 not shown in FIG. 3. In some embodiments, with solely interior vertical members 310, interior inserts may be used on both sides of system 300 to provide storage and/or shelves on both sides of system 300.

FIG. 4 shows a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 400 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 3, except where vertical members 310 are curved to interface with a curved fascia 140B. Note also that vertical plate members 120 have different shapes so as to be flush with the sides of curved vertical support members 310. Lateral structural member 110G is also different than lateral structural member 110F, providing a kick plate surface on the front of system 400.

FIG. 5 shows a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 500 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 4, except where legs 510 support the system, rather than vertical plate members 120. Note that vertical plate members 120E, 120F are a different shape than vertical plate members 120 in previous figures because they no longer are configured to support the system 500 on a surface. Legs 510 may be coupled with lateral structural members 110 to support system 500.

FIG. 6 shows a side view 600 of an adjustable leg 510 which may possibly be used in embodiments of the invention, including the embodiment shown in FIG. 5. Leg 510 may be configured to move in slot 610 of lateral structural member 110. Sliding member 620 may be a similar shape to a channel in structural member 110, thereby assisting in reducing binding of leg 510 as it moves in slot 610. Lateral structural member 110 may be supported by ring 630 which is coupled with leg 510 via threads 640. The interior of ring 630 may be threaded such that the height of leg 510 may be adjusted by turning ring 630 about threads 640.

FIG. 7 shows a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 700 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 5, except where the vertical plate members 120 are configured to support tray slide bars 710. Vertical plate members 120G, 120H are shown having support cavities 720. Support cavities may at least assist in supporting tray slide bards 710. In some embodiments, additional fixtures may also assist in coupling tray slide bars 710 with vertical plate members 120. FIG. 8 shows a partially assembled axonometric view the of the component foodservice counter system shown in FIG. 7 showing tray slide bars 710 coupled with vertical plate members 120.

FIG. 9 shows a partially exploded axonometric view of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 900 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 7, except where additional members 910 are used to support tray slide bars 710 rather than the vertical plate members 120. Additional members 910 have cavities 920, similar to cavities 720 in FIG. 7, which may be employed to support tray slide bars 710. Additional members 910 may pass through cavities in vertical members 310 and lateral support member 110J and be mechanically coupled with lateral support member 110J. Fascia 140C may be modified to provide openings 930 for additional members 910 to pass through.

Also shown in FIG. 9 is a longitudinal structural member 940. Longitudinal structural member 940 may at least assist in supporting counter top 130. This may be especially advantageous in embodiments where foodservice components coupled with countertop 130 cause larger than normal loading on counter top 130.

FIG. 10 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1000 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 7, except having cavities 1010 through the vertical plate members 120 so that electrical and plumbing/mechanical equipment can pass through, as well as provide services to, system 1000. In this embodiment, any interior insert may stop short of obstructing cavities 1010 so that a large portion of the interior of system 1000 may be used as an electrical and mechanical chase. After electrical and mechanical equipment is run through the chase provided, assembly of system 1000 may be completed, providing easier access during electrical/mechanical installation.

FIG. 11 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1100 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 10, except having cavities 1010 through the vertical plate members in proximity to the lateral structural members 110. Note that lateral structural member 110J may be different than previous embodiments to allow cavities 1010C, 1010D to access the interior of system 1100. In embodiments similar to system 1100, the lateral structural members may be used as mechanical and electrical chases, increasing the amount of interior space created by an interior insert.

FIG. 12 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1200 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 10, except having the cavities 1010 through the vertical plate members 120 in proximity to vertical members 310, as well as cavities 1210 through the vertical members 310. In this embodiment, volume between a front fascia 140 and the wall of an interior insert may be used as a mechanical and electrical chase.

FIG. 13 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1300 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 10, except also showing one possible rear interior insert 1310. Rear interior insert 1310 may be inserted into system 1300 in the manner shown by guide lines 1320 and directional arrow 1330. Lip 1340 may tuck under the rearmost bottommost lateral structural member 110, and be mechanically coupled on the underside. Insertion of interior inserts 1310 may occur after all other assembly of system 1300 has occurred.

FIG. 14 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1400 of the invention which provides a curved component foodservice counter. Using structures similar to those shown in FIG. 14, it may be possible to provide curved counters of varying shape. Lateral structural members 110 in this embodiment have cuts 1410 or other modifications which allow a generally curved shape to be achieved. In embodiments where obtuse angle sections are produced, only front lateral members 110 may exist, with vertical plate members 120 meeting at their back edges. Front fascias 140, rear fascias 140, and/or interior inserts may also be provided in these embodiments. Additional features shown with respect to other embodiments discussed can also be incorporated into such curved sections.

FIG. 15 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1500 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 1, except having more than two vertical plate members 120. These embodiments may be advantageous where additional support is needed for heavy load counter tops 130, possibly having heavy load foodservice components. Additional features shown with respect to other embodiments discussed can also be incorporated into such multi-sectioned embodiments.

FIG. 16 shows an axonometric view of a portion of a component foodservice counter system embodiment 1600 of the invention, similar to that shown in FIG. 15, except having a lateral structural member that extends from past the center vertical plate member. In these embodiments, interior vertical plate member 120T may be pre-cut such that lateral structural member 110P may pass. Like the embodiment shown in FIG. 15, embodiments similar to that shown in FIG. 16 may also be advantageous where additional support is needed for heavy load counter tops 130, possibly having heavy load foodservice components. Additional features shown with respect to other embodiments discussed can also be incorporated into such multi-sectioned embodiments.

The invention has now been described in detail for the purposes of clarity and understanding. However, it will be appreciated that certain changes and modifications may be practiced within the scope of the appended claims.