ON a hot and humid Thursday, Brian Follander found himself in a familiar position, sprawled on a restaurant kitchen floor, staring into the nether regions of a stove that would not light. A dispatcher from Kitchen Repair Specialists, his employer, had sent Mr. Follander to ABC Kitchen, just north of Union Square, after receiving a distress call. The oven had been acting up for days. Now it stubbornly refused to work, and the first diners were starting to show up for lunch. After testing the burners with a blowtorch, Mr. Follander removed the front panel from the bottom of the stove, hugged the floor and saw the problem, a common one in hard-used restaurant stoves. The thermocouple, a fail-safe device governing the flow of gas to the burners, had given up the ghost. As scurrying workers tried not to step on his head, he yanked the defective part and put in a new one.
“That’s the hero call, when one of the main ovens goes off, you replace the thermocouple and get out of the way in 20 minutes,” he said, hoisting a fat tool bag over his shoulder. “It doesn’t matter to the people at the restaurant that it’s easy to fix. They just know that the oven won’t go on. And that’s pretty much my day. Just rinse and repeat.” Dozens of troubleshooting technicians like Mr. Follander roam New York every day, dispatched by companies like Kitchen Repair Specialists, Kitchen Works and All Service, and their counterparts who repair refrigeration equipment, companies like Day and Nite and Americold. They have carved out a niche in New York’s restaurant economy by administering the equivalent of cardiopulmonary resuscitation to malfunctioning equipment that can sabotage a dinner service — or ruin thousands of dollars’ worth of food in refrigerated walk-ins. “If the oven goes, you can’t cook, but you don’t lose your entire inventory,” said Bob Levine, the president of Americold, which installs and maintains refrigeration units.
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i'm the leftist liberal you've been warned about - the one who genuinely supports the expansion of the welfare state. i love politics and data and graffiti and street art and am far too lazy to use my shift key. if you need to reach me, you can email to abbyjean at the google email service.