Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

OCT 2017

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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32 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • OCTOBER 2017 With that beauty, however, comes a higher price tag. "If you're in an upscale, open kitchen and you're not worried about labor and you're not worried about the cost of a piece of equipment, they're magnificent pieces of art," says Martinez. Cost represents a major factor when considering cooking suites. Obviously, the price of suites will vary widely depending on the equipment they include. But it's not uncommon to see suites retailing for more than $20,000, and Sedej notes that she has seen some custom suites selling for more than $100,000. TWEAKING THE ORIGINAL In a perfect world, restaurants feature impeccably laid out workstations, with equipment that fits seamlessly around them and no hidden problems ever popping up. But res- taurants rarely operate in a perfect world, and the design process can bring forth lots of unexpected surprises to work around. That's what Mark Sabbe, executive chef of Chicago's Marchesa, found out during the design and construction phases of the restaurant. Open since September, the 3-story, 225-seat casual restaurant in Chicago's River North area features a seasonally changing menu focusing on French, Spanish and Italian cuisine. Sabbe came into the project after another chef had left. "When I inherited this project," he says, "there was already a design and a plan for the kitchen. It needed some tweaking. The architect, while having a basic knowledge of kitchens, had never worked in a kitchen. So he and his assistant — who are incredibly talented and very capable — did some things based on what the existing chef at the time had requested. But it hadn't really been thought out in terms of dinner service." Another consideration Sabbe had to deal with was a decision made by the majority partners to include a chef's table in the kitchen. So the kitchen design and placement of workstations, he notes, was defined "by what the majority partners were looking for, which was the opportunity for people [at the chef's table] to look at the kitchen and see it being worked." On top of that, Sabbe says, "We got a great deal on some used equipment, which was great in some ways and tied my hands in others because now I had to spec my line based on the equipment that we owned." With a charbroiler, a pair of fryers and a 10-burner stove to work around, he had to do some creative workstation design. The first decision was to use an area off the basement bar and wine room for a prep kitchen. Since the restaurant is not currently open for lunch, "the whole place is essentially going to be prep during the day," Sabbe says. The down- stairs workstation consists of wheeled prep tables, which will serve two functions. After they're used for food prep in the daytime, "during the course of dinner service, the tables will slide over and be the collection point for the dirty dishes before they go through the dishmachine." In the main kitchen, Sabbe consulted with line cooks he'd worked with in the past to design the optimal work area, pri- marily when it came to the amount of space needed between the equipment and the make tables. In one of his previous restaurants, he says, the space for the line cooks was a fairly tight 27 inches. "This was all relatively skinny guys, so it worked really well for them. But if you get more than two or three people on that line, it's hard to get around each other," he says. So he added another three inches in width to allow the line cooks to move around each other more effectively. "I wanted to make sure there was less than three feet of space in between the line and the prep tables because if it's too much space, it's an encumbrance. If it's not enough, it's an encum- brance," he says. The prep tables, holding 1 / 3 and 1 / 6 pans, have refrigerated storage underneath for ingredients. What makes for a good workstation from a chef's perspec- tive? To Sabbe, it's a combination of accessibility of ingredients, ergonomic functionality and access to equipment. "I'm trying to make sure that [my cooks] have the tools to get done what they have to get done, with an eye toward what makes for the fastest service," he says, adding that, on a busy night, even saving just a few seconds per plate "is a huge savings." WORKSTATION CHAIN APPROACH With more than 1,070 units in 44 states, the Firehouse Subs chain produces millions of sandwiches daily. Even though the chain's restaurants vary widely in terms of their physical layouts, their workstation setup is surprisingly similar between units. In the front of the house, explains Rich Goodman, vice president of operations services, "we have a cashier greeting and order-taking station, which typically houses two POS stations and allows for a queue line going down in front of WORKSTATIONS THAT WORK Future workstation designs at Firehouse Subs will reflect changing consumer patterns, like the shift toward more third-party delivery and online ordering.

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