Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

FEB 2018

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64 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • FEBRUARY 2018 chain profile Russia. Notably, Teremok did not adjust its recipes or flavor profile for the United States, Narkevich says. It also evaluated its menu to see exactly what Teremok should and should not offer in the U.S., eventually eliminat- ing some low-volume items. The chain adjusted its menu to accommodate a more American way of eating, says Ilya Denisenko, Teremok's United States operations manager. "The way they serve it in Russia, you get a soup, you get a salad and you get a blini. It's more of a meal. You don't just get a salad or a blini, which is how people eat here. So, the way we sized it [in the U.S.] is we have a standard and we have an XL, which is double for some of the soups, blinies and salads. This gives people an option to get just that item and it will be filling." In addition to adjusting the menu, Teremok altered the restaurant's design and ambiance as part of its move to America — a shift that goes back to the nature of the Russian restaurant industry. According to Narkevich, though Teremok has always served fast-casual quality food, there is no widely recognized fast-casual category in Russia. "We were fast casual from the start [though] initially we didn't know this term. When we discovered it, we understood it immediately because it describes Teremok completely." Since most of Teremok's Russian competitors consist of QSR operations, its Russian stores have a fast-food design. The move to America came with the opportunity to re-image the appearance and ambience of Teremok. In making this change, Teremok's leaders were certain of the direction they didn't want to go: that of an ethnic restaurant. Instead of persuading guests to visit frequently, an ethnic appear- ance tells them to visit just a few times a year, says Narkevich. Instead, the chain chose a more traditional fast-casual appearance. Design elements include wood-style ceramic tile for the flooring and hardwood furnishings. Painted white, the walls also feature some white stone accents. The chain's wall decor does include nods to its roots, however, with one vinyl wall covering that includes many Russian elements, and another that shows white birch trees native to Russia. Blinies on Parade The most notable aspect of Teremok's design, the fully open kitchen, allows guests to place their order and then walk down the line to watch their food being assembled behind a glass shield. Because the chain uses a commissary kitchen, individual Teremok stores have a limited kitchen equipment package. Equipment stretches along two distinct lines: the POS coun- ter where staff face customers and along the back wall. The POS counter line has six blini griddles, divided into sets of two. Nearby cold wells hold the blini batter, while a refrig- erated table with cold wells holds such blini fillings as meats, cheeses and produce. A pair of griddles flank this refrigerated table. An undercounter refrigerator stores backup fillings. On the back line, team members make soups, salads and kasha. This area contains a glass door upright reach-in refrigerator for storing cold items — and displaying them to customers. The back line also has a salad table with cold wells and extra salad ingredients held below, along with a steam table for holding soups. Each batch of soup generates no more than five servings. Team members use a four-burner electric stove to make the soup from ingredients prepped at the commissary, and to finish parcooked meats. "Parcooking lets us minimize the cooking time at the restaurant to make the wait time lower," Denisenko says. "At the same time, the product is fresh and controlled. It's still used on the same day it's cooked so the freshness is there, and the consistency is there because it's made in one large batch." Commissary Cooking Using a commissary allows Teremok to keep real estate costs low, according to Denisenko. Manhattan has some of the most expensive real estate in the world. By locating Ter- emok's commissary in Newark, N.J., "all the bigger pieces of equipment can be placed there in one spot. All the paper products and beverages can be stored there and distributed in smaller amounts at the restaurants. That minimizes the space required at the restaurant significantly." Even more important, says Denisenko, a central commis- sary facilitates greater quality control and overall consistency of product for Teremok. By having one location where all the veg- etables are cut, meat sliced and blini batter mixed, the chain can better monitor and control what it serves to its guests, he says. The commissary operates on something close to a graveyard shift, with shifts typically ending around 3 a.m. At that point, a truck delivers precise amounts of food, disposables and beverages to each Teremok location. The commissary breaks into four separate rooms: cold prep, hot prep, meat room and batter room. The open kitchen, albeit with a glass bar- rier, allows guests to watch staff make their blinies.

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