For many years Heatlie supplied countless organisations with the Heatlie Park BBQ. This was installed in parks, recreational areas and public spaces among other uses.
In the mid-2010s, we set out to redesign our Park BBQ, with the intention of reinventing public space, commercial BBQs as a whole.
We never do anything half-hearted here at Heatlie, so the process took a little longer than expected, with numerous prototypes, testing models and 'back to the drawing board' moments. By January 2022, we finally were able to release our new model of park BBQ, renamed to the inclusive "Community BBQ". Simply because we believe it's meant for more than just parks.
The design brings together usability, functionality and an overall aesthetic look that falls in line with the rest of our product range, as well as strongly differentiating itself from other park BBQs on the market.
Let's take a deep dive into the new model and what it has to offer.
The BBQ component is made up of a strong heavy-duty frame, made from either galvanised mild steel or 304 stainless steel. This frame houses the cooking plate, trim (the surface you see surrounding the cooking plate), and the serviceable burner insert drawer.
This BBQ body can be installed into your own existing benchtop, or it can be paired with our pre-made benchtop. It's designed to slip in from the front, like a recess, rather than drop in like the Island Gourmet Elite.
The underside features fully open venting slats that cannot be blocked up or restricted to ensure the BBQ can breathe.
The external surrounding trim of the cooking plate will automatically be 304 stainless steel with a horizontal brush finish, no matter which model you choose. This is sleek, smooth and easy to keep clean and free from corrosion.
The plate is 600mm wide and 450mm deep. All plates are 6mm thick and can be either mild steel or 3CR12 stainless steel. It features ventilation holes at the back for adequate airflow, with a heat resistant black spray paint to finish things off nicely. This plate is welded tight into the trim and body, so rest assured it is secure and cannot be tampered with.
Serviceable Burner Insert
This is the drawer that you see across the front of the BBQ. It features a key lock to open and close the drawer and houses all the internal parts of the BBQ. This is why it is locked to keep it secure from prying hands.
The front panel features the knob for gas flow and heat control, the PUSH start button that activates the piezo spark, the lighting instructions and a viewing hole.
Inside the drawer, we have the burners and their ignition probes and leads, the fat collection tray and the gas taps.
The whole unit is designed so that in the future should any parts need replacing, rather than complicating things by playing around with small internal parts, the entire drawer can simply be replaced.
Overall, it's a very simple unit that doesn't overcomplicate things and is designed more than appropriately for its purpose.
The other part of our Community BBQ release was the purpose-built benchtop that houses the BBQ. This is a fairly large, "dining table" like structure that provides users with plenty of preparation room on top, either side of the BBQ, and storage room underneath. It can be fixed to a concrete slab by bolting it down through the legs on either end, with room inside the legs for concealed installation of the gas lines.
The benchtop is made entirely from 304 stainless steel for ease of cleaning and corrosion resistance.
How to Use the Community BBQ?
At Heatlie, we like keeping things simple, yet effective. This is all the more relevant for a public space BBQ as it will likely be used by thousands of different people from all walks of life throughout its lifetime.
The BBQ features a timer, that controls usage time to ensure that the BBQ is not left running by a member of the public. This timer runs for 11 minutes and gives a clear warning of 3 beeps when its time has run out. Lighting instructions are printed on the front panel but they are as simple as...
1. Turn the knob to 'Hi' position.
2. Push and hold in the large "PUSH" panel and wait for a 'click' to light the burner.
3. Continue to hold the button down and look through the view hole to see if a flame has appeared.
4. Continue to hold until you hear a 'beep' to indicate the timer has started.
When the timer is ending and you hear the 3 beeps, simply hold in the push button until the beeps end to keep the BBQ lit.
Cooking On and Maintaining the Plate
Whether it's mild steel or stainless steel, all Heatlie cooking plates are relatively low maintenance - perfect for a public BBQ. The first thing that needs to be done is to remove the lanolin oil coating. This is a food-grade, protective oil that we coat the plate in to protect it once manufactured. This needs to be fully removed before cooking with a small amount of hot soapy water and a non-scratch scourer.
Users will notice that after many cooks, the plate will discolour and take on a black, shiny appearance. This is completely normal and the intended result of heat and seasoning interacting with the metals. The difference between the two plate materials is that mild will conduct heat more evenly and you will notice the entire plate will discolour, developing a healthy non-stick coating that will provide an excellent cooking surface, while the stainless steel will concentrate its heat more over the burners and leave untouched spots around the edges.
Plates do need some TLC, as, without it, surface rust can appear. To avoid this, users should be scraping loose food debris off the plate and reasoning with a coat of oil after use. As long as the plate maintains this consistent oil seasoning, it will be protected from rust and corrosion.
Users can scrape excess oil and food debris into the drainage hole at the front of the BBQ, which drops into the fat collection tray within the draw. This can be cleaned regularly by service people.
Where should the Community BBQ be installed?
The Community BBQ is a heavy-duty, high-intensity use BBQ and is built to suit this purpose. However, in order to keep it in top condition, it does need to ideally be installed under a weatherproof cover. This means an outdoor shelter, roof, veranda or patio of some kind would ideally protect it from constant lashings of sun, wind rain and moisture.
This BBQ is suitable for many different uses, not just public parks. It could come in handy for communal areas in apartment buildings, aged care facilities or hospitals. It would also be of good use at caravan and camping parks, or you might even want one in your own home (although the timer wouldn't be ideal!).
Installing the Community BBQ in an Existing Benchtop
The Heatlie Community BBQ can easily be installed in an existing benchtop or one that you may construct to fit it. It does not have to be paired with our benchtop, however, they are a perfect match to make things easy for you.
There are a few things to consider if installing into an existing benchtop.
Firstly, it fits in via a recess in the front, not a drop-in. This means you'll need the correct sized recess in the front of your cabinet. The cutout template size is 690mm deep by 950mm wide. The unit supports its own weight, meaning it doesn't need any supports from underneath and will rest on its trim that overhangs the cutout. However, take into account that it is a very heavy unit, 74kg to be exact, so whatever you build needs to be able to support that.
A handy feature of our Community BBQ is its ability to be installed into any material, combustible or not. This is due to a zero clearance box that keeps heat in, rather than letting it escape into the surrounding materials.
Combustible materials include Timber, Laminate, MDF etc. Non-combustible materials include stone, stainless steel, brick etc.
If using combustible materials, there is a 170mm exclusion zone beneath the BBQ and a 1000mm exclusion zone above the BBQ. If the dimensions mentioned in the cutout template are followed, this will allow adequate clearance around the sides and back of the BBQ. Therefore the cutout cannot be any less than these dimensions.
For non-combustible materials, the exclusion zone below is 75mm.
It is recommended that the underside of the BBQ be left completely open, or at the very least, adhere to the above exclusion zones depending on the materials being used. This is to allow airflow up into the base of the BBQ where the burners need air in order to ignite.
If using an LPG bottle, this bottle will need to be separately ventilated in a completely independent compartment with its own ventilation requirements.
The BBQ can be purchased as factory fitted for either LPG or Natural Gas. This will dictate which gas taps are installed into the burner insert drawer. As stated above, gas bottles need to be perfectly stored and ventilated, while natural gas lines and hoses can be discretely run through the legs of our benchtop, and for existing benchtops, it is entirely up to you.
The Next Generation of Public Space Barbecuing
With this newest iteration of the Community BBQ, our aim is to improve upon previous models in order to provide users with the best possible barbecuing experience. You generally wouldn't associate public BBQs with quality and performance, but that's what we're out to change. With a Heatlie BBQ in your park or recreational area, people will be coming back time and time again just for the BBQ!