A New System for Mellow Mushroom: A Case Study

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, a restaurant franchise headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, decided to expand their manufacturing operations to more efficiently produce ingredients for their award-winning pizza to supply the 190 plus locations across the country.

The system that was currently in place to produce the dough revolved around manually moving racks into a large walk-in freezer, where the dough would be frozen and prepped for shipping. Jeff VanNorman, Mellow Mushroom’s Director of Manufacturing Operations, indicated that upgrading the system was the single largest strategic decision made in the history of the company. The plan was to install a spiral freezer that would increase production, efficiency and quality while decreasing labor cost and issues with production line bottlenecks.

When it came time to decide what industrial refrigeration company to supply the system for the spiral freezer, M&M Refrigeration was recommended by the contractor responsible for the project’s construction. A custom 115 TR R507 skid was designed for the spiral freezer to operate at -40 degrees/F. The refrigeration system was intended to be placed outside of the building, with 150 feet of piping to the spiral freezer. The skid was completely enclosed with ventilation and gas detection to comply with current code.

The complete skidded refrigeration system was composed of:

• Single Stage economized screw compressor
• Evaporative Condenser
• Pump recirculator for R507
• Oil Rectifier
• Complete controls system with remote monitoring and control capability

The challenge was that the plant had to remain in production during the installation of the new spiral freezing system. There was little room for error to ensure that production quotas were met to satisfy fulfillment. Regarding the installation, VanNorman said “M&M did a good job of adhering to food safety guidelines to avoid risk of contamination for the product that had to be made. They were very professional and aware of food plant safety which kept business uninterrupted”.

Since the completion of the installation, Mellow Mushroom reports that their capacity for dough production has doubled and their labor savings have increased around $.5 million a year. VanNorman added, “M&M has stayed attentive even after the project. Since the install was finished, they have remained engaged and worked on ways to prevent and predict issues.”

Spiral Freezer External Engine Room, Dedicated to spiral freezer

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