Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

NOV 2018

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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34 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • NOVEMBER 2018 I t's all about the experi- ence. That message continues to have a noticeable impact on the conceptualization of new projects, restaurant design and even the selection of foodservice equipment. Just look at any new chef-driven restaurant, or even a new wave fast-casual or forward-thinking univer- sity dining hall. Wide-open kitchens with plenty of cooks and equipment on display are not just popular, they're ex- pected. The new norm calls for high-end design with plenty of attention to detail. Even lighting trends have changed; the dim, moody restaurants of years ago continue to fall by the wayside in favor of table spotlighting, natural light and other methods that perfect diners' Instagram photos. Growing consumer inter- est in watching food prepa- ration and gaining greater insight on food sourcing both factor into the current wave of elevating the experience. And the industry is responding. Here, veteran designers Nina Grondin, partner and founder of Chicago-based Curioso, and Joseph Szala, cre- ative director and principal of Atlanta-based Vigor, identify the Top 10 experience-driven kitchen and restaurant trends. 1. THE HEART OF THE HOUSE While many designers prefer fully — or at least partially — open kitchens these days, the placement of the kitchen proves just as important. "One of the things that I see as a big trend over the past ve years is that there is a blurring between front of house and back of house," Grondin says. "This is as people are becoming much more aware of what they're eating and they are looking for that level of transparency, not just for peace of mind but for a more sophisticated dining experience." Some new restaurants go full-blown heart-of-the-house style with an open hearth or wood-red oven in the center of a dining space and the kitchen designed around it. Others place counter seating and/or traditional tables around an open or partially open kitchen at the back or side of a space. "Focusing on the open kitchen really energizes a space," Grondin says. "There's nothing worse these days than being in a dining room that's partially empty with nothing going on. It feels outdated, like you're there for an early bird special. The trend is to make the kitchen feel like a warm and casual dinner party at someone's house where you might be centered around the cook, tasting ingredients or watching the prep." Ten Ways to Elevate Elevating the Bar Tobin Ellis, hospitality design specialist and founder of BarMagic, who has designed and devel- oped countless upscale bars at restaurants, reminds us all not to forget about the bar. In this post- recession world, the bar, it seems, has become the main driver of revenue at restaurants of all types. To maximize success in this environment, Ellis encourages operators and designers to work collaboratively to design spaces that allow bartenders to make more complex drinks with all the tools and technology they need at their Šngertips so that they're not turning their back to the customer. "You will never Šnd a bar- tender who says, 'I'm so glad this bar was designed all in-line and symmetrical!' " Ellis said at Zoomba Group's Foodservice Equip- ment & Design Global Thought Leadership Summit in September. "They're the ones who have to get the drinks over the bar quickly and e˜ciently while providing an immersive hospitality experience to guests at the same time. There is no immersion without service and hospitality." And, as more diners forgo formal reservations for more casual, bar-side dining, seating in this area has to be well thought- out, Curioso's Nina Grondin says. If space allows, she's fond of "knuck- les" at the edge of a bar where four or Šve people can sit around, talk and dine together. This is the case at the recently opened etta in Chi- cago. There, you'll also Šnd a row of high-top tables for four, sepa- rated from the main dining room by a small partition. The height of the tables allows for a more casual feel as well as a top-down peek at the lower-set tables in the dining room and the open kitchen with a hearth oven at the back. "You also have to think about the space between the front of the bar and the back," Grondin says. "Too much space means bartenders might turn their back more often or hang out further away from the guests rather than directly interacting with them." And then there are the tools for today's immersive bar experi- ence, from rose-colored martini glasses and strainers (as at etta) to smoking guns, containers Šlled with herbs, big Šshbowls for sharable sips and more. "Seeing the craftsmanship of the bartenders is just as huge a part of the overall 'show' as seeing the cooks in the kitchen," she says. etta

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