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Costly kitchen hood change set for library coffee shop


This news story was published on April 19, 2011.
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The newly renovated Mason City library has to make a costly change in its kitchen. A more powerful kitchen hood is set to be installed in the coffee shop kitchen, costing thousands of dollars.|The newly renovated Mason City library has to make a costly change in its kitchen.

The kitchen, home to Bestsellers Coffee, must upgrade from a Type II to a Type 1 hood. NorthIowaToday.com was told that some employees of the Mason City Fire Department noticed that certain foods being prepared in the kitchen did not conform to regulations that require certain ventilation that a kitchen hood provides. The Type II hood currently in the kitchen doesn’t meet codes that allow the preparation of certain foods that have “grease vapors.” NorthIowaToday.com is told the foods in question are mainly “soup” and other related foods.

The Fire Department employees alerted authorities who then informed Library Director Mary Markwalter that in order to keep preparing the foods offered on the menu at Bestsellers Coffee that the hood would have to be upgraded and replaced.

The hood was put in the renovation plan by architects Holabird and Root and sold to the library by Rist & Associates, whom City Council member Scott Tornquist works for as a salaried (non-commission) employee.

The cost to the library differs depending on whom you talk to.

Library Director Mary Markwalter told NorthIowaToday.com “The change orders for the hood upgrade from a Type II to a Type 1 hood are to Blazek Electric for $1,175.00 and Kinseth Plumbing for $14,067.00. Kinseth will do some of the work on their change order and Mechanical Air will be a subcontractor under them on some of the work.”

That number comes out to $15,242 cost to change the kitchen hood to make certain foods. “There†is a combination of things that can cause ‘grease laden vapors,'” Markwalter said. “Cooking soup, grilling bread, bacon and the panini press, used for toasting,” as examples.

“The current menu is great, and we don’t want to change it because revenues are strong and people really like the food. †The production of grease laden vapors is what determines the need for a Type I Hood in the kitchen,” Markwalter said. Library board members told NorthIowaToday.com that they agree, it is better to make the change now so moving forward there are no obstacles. “It’s a public building, and we need to be within the codes at all times.”

NorthIowaToday.com asked Scott Tornquist about the costs to taxpayers on the change. He said “The costs associated with the hood replacement are included in the change orders that were in the council packet (Kinseth has the mechanical portion; Blazek the electrical). Note both of these change orders included multiple, unrelated items, so you have to look at the costs specific to the kitchen hood. This information is available at the city website. The “cost” to taxpayers is the amount of money “wasted”. The hood covered by the Item 16 change orders was never in scope (in the bid documents); had it been, the costs would have been in initial bids. The “waste” is the hood that has been installed that will now be removed. So, the hood price, the labor to install it, and now the labor to remove it (in preparation for a new hood) comprise the “wasted” expense to the taxpayer. I am estimating this at $1500-$2000 based on the price of the hood, and my experience in the industry with labor hours and rates for this work.”

Asked about the timeline for the project, Markwalter said “As soon as we get verification from the contractors that all materials for this work have been received and all of the coordination of work is scheduled, then we will put up notices that there will be limited food service for one week. Bestsellers can still serve drinks and pastries during the construction. †They just won’t be able to serve lunch for one week. †One week is the duration of the work in the kitchen.”|

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