Secret menus, secret recipes, and secret techniques — for a long time, restaurants, fast-food chains, and perhaps the entire food industry have been obsessed with the thought of keeping things a secret from their patrons. While many of these recipes — think KFC and Coca-Cola — will continue to remain top secret, this no longer has to apply to the restaurant layout. Restaurants and dining establishments from all around the world are beginning to embrace the concept of an open kitchen.
Today, patrons can have front row seats to the restaurant kitchen and watch the staff as they work their magic. However, open kitchen restaurants not only serve as a point of attraction for patrons, but they can also be beneficial for staff as well, making it an effective layout for restaurants.
What Restaurant Kitchens Should Be
The kitchen layout is a crucial aspect of any restaurant and must promote a seamless workflow. To optimize daily operations, a kitchen needs to be equal parts comfortable and conducive to cooking.
The kitchen staff need to prepare food in an area that gives them ample space to move around. The area for preparation should also be properly arranged so kitchen tools are easily accessible. The right layout can also help safeguard the food sanitation levels throughout the entire process, from preparation to serving.
In addition to functionality, kitchens need to follow the specific standards set by Canadian laws and regulations for restaurants and catering.
Open kitchen restaurants can give you all that and more.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Open Kitchen Restaurants
With traditional restaurant layouts, walls provide more than a barrier between the guests and the staff. In addition to keeping tight security on trade secrets, it ensures safety against contamination and contributes to fewer incidents involving kitchen tools are some of the advantages of having walls.
However, modern trends have changed the norm, and restaurant kitchens from around the world are turning to the open concept kitchen. This layout, like others, has its own set of pros and cons:
- Entertainment – As cooking shows will have proven by now, watching food as it is being sliced, diced, mixed, and cooked can be a source of great entertainment. Watching and knowing how their food is made will help diners appreciate their meals more compared to being in a restaurant with a traditional layout.
- Cleanliness – Hygienic measures implemented in the kitchen become more visible to the patrons. A widely circulated rumour about chefs or kitchen staff spitting on food if they are displeased with diners can finally be laid to rest. Opening the kitchen for all the world to see will only strengthen your patrons’ confidence in the hygienic environment and processes adopted by their favourite restaurants.
- Increased Appetite– The sight, sound, and smell of food being prepared can improve the customers’ appetites. This can translate to increased sales since customers may be tempted to order more dishes than usual.
- Less Expensive Renovation Project – Renovations can be an expensive undertaking, especially if the modifications involve taking down old walls and putting up new ones. With an open restaurant kitchen layout, you don’t need to purchase materials to rebuild walls you’ve taken down, allowing you to save up on construction materials and labour costs.
- Not for Everyone – There’s no one-size-fits-all layout. No matter what design you choose, there will be a few who will not take to it as easily as the rest. Not everyone will appreciate the clanging of pots and pans, staff moving and rushing about to get orders prepared, or the very hot temperatures an open kitchen comes with.
- Mess – The kitchen can be a hectic and messy place, especially if your staff are not in tune with each other. Additionally, as Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen has proven, any disagreements will be in full view of the customers.
- Accidents – Accidents can and will happen at any time and are especially common during peak hours. While your kitchen staff may be used to the idea of accidents in their line of work, your patrons may not be.
3 Ways to Make Open Kitchens Work for You
Are you adamant about adapting an open kitchen for your restaurant for the fear of exposing trade secrets to the competition? Here are three things that you need to make this concept pave your way to success:
- Determine how much you are willing to reveal to the public. The biggest issue is revealing too much to your clients (which could include competitors). You need to start by determining which part of the kitchen is visible and which is hidden so not all procedures are seen by the world. Take a cue from other restaurants that show only the part of the kitchen that is most attractive — the firewood kitchen, grills, stoves, or a skilled chef who can give them a “show” while cooking.
- Ascertain how your kitchen will engage the clients. Will it be reminiscent of a theatre or magic show? If you want it to resemble a theatre, seat clients in traditional table settings — separate from but with ample view of the kitchen. If you want to add a bit of pizzazz and turn it into a magic show, prepare bars or tables where the chefs can put on an up-close display and your clients can directly participate in the process.
- Control kitchen temperatures. Restaurant kitchens produce a substantial amount of heat and smoke, particularly in the cooking and baking stations. Extremely high temperatures can make diners seated close to the kitchen uncomfortable. To address this, make sure that your HVAC system is in good working condition. It has to be cleaned and maintained regularly to comply with health and safety regulations.
- Consider energy consumption. The design of your kitchen influences how much energy your restaurant consumes on the regular. Keep cooling appliances (like refrigerators and ice makers) and prep stations that require low temperatures far from cooking and baking stations since these emit heat. This simple precaution makes it easier for your HVAC systems to regulate air and temperature, minimizes the consumption of energy, and allows for the better preservation of food.
In a nutshell, the open concept kitchen works for restaurants because it communicates a sense of confidence and trust; attracts and mesmerizes diners; builds an emotional connection between the diners and the kitchen staff; and provides diners with a multi-sensory experience, immersing them in the culinary world.
However, successfully pulling it off requires certain considerations in terms of work station placements and maintenance.
If you want to benefit from this up and coming trend, turn to PT General Contractor Inc. We will help turn your kitchen into a fully functional and optimized space so your restaurant can be the next talk of the town. Let turn your open kitchen dreams to reality with the help of our skilled and experienced technicians. Our years in the industry have earned us the expertise and knowhow to execute plans for restaurant renovation wonders. Contact us at (416) 757-9100 for professional renovation services.