Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JAN 2019

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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C O N C E P T F I R S T N E I T H E R F I R S T 56 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • JANUARY 2019 Malody starts with a process she calls "visioning." She spends time with the stakeholders in an intense ideation session that results in establishing the concept. "Visioning is a critical process that sets the guideposts for everything that follows," she says. "Concept development and documentation set the direc- tion for the entire process," Malody explains. "This includes everything from the style of service — fast casual, table service, quick-serve, etc. — to the selection of glassware, plateware, furniture and lighting that will support the concept." The concept document becomes the final voice in deci- sions and alternatives during the actual design process. It determines the food, the service, the decor, the pricing and the marketing in a way that makes the restaurant's goals and objectives clear. Accelerated project timelines can cause concept articula- tion to fall through the cracks, Malody notes. "Designers are being asked to hurry up and design kitchens before concepts have been designed — let alone a menu." A corporate dining project with a Seattle-based company reminds Malody of the importance of establishing concept. The project was to design employee dining facilities in four new buildings. She submitted 40 concepts; 25 were selected. The following questions guided the evaluation process to create the concepts: ● Would any of the new concepts be completely cashless? ● If ordering through kiosks, how many should there be? Where should they be placed to prevent lines during peak hours? Would digital menu boards above the kiosks help employees make decisions more quickly before entering their orders? ● What is the optimal menu size? What equipment would be needed to ensure that orders could be completed within a prescribed time period? ● Would customers have to stand around waiting for their orders to be completed, or would staff deliver the food to the guests' tables, thus preventing lines of hungry, impa- tient people crowding spaces where others were seated? ● If food is to be delivered to tables, what technology or methodology would be utilized to readily locate the correct customer as quickly as possible? It took many meetings to sort out the details. The order- ing and service decisions affect not only spatial planning but the menu itself, Malody says. If the concept has takeout, delivery and/or customer-facing technol- ogy, it will affect back-of-the house design and, often, menu design. "One of the greatest pitfalls in using technology can be overburdening the kitchen with orders during peak periods," Malody points out. Ordering online or order- ing on premise from tablets or kiosks can add pressure. In this case, the process influences the menu. "If the menu has not been engineered for peak hour pro- duction efficiency, the operation can fail. Customers waiting for their food become impatient; bodies pile up in a space that was probably not designed for waiting people. It can be chaotic and disastrous." Often menus are too large to accommodate required levels of efficient throughput and/or specified equipment may not include partially automated equipment or ovens that can accelerate cook times. Adding another layer to the question of which comes first, Egnor says asking owners to articulate their visions comes first — before menu or concept. His first goal is to understand what the owner/chef wishes to achieve with the opera- tion. " 'Concept' is a very focused term, while 'vision' is a broad term. It provides a lot of adjectives that lead to understanding the concept and, ultimately, the menu and the style of the kitchen." Questions that identify the vision might include: ● Do you want an open kitchen or one that's closed? ● Will this feature a fine-dining room? ● Will there be takeout? ● Is there a door to the kitchen, or is there a wall you would walk around? ● What is the ambience of the dining room? When you get answers that identify the vision, you can de- fine the concept, Egnor says. "This also defines how you create your menu. These both need to happen at the appropriate time. J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J C O N C E P T F I R S T J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J J N E I T H E R F I R S T Karen Malody, consultant John Egnor, designer WHICH COMES FIRST: MENU OR CONCEPT? K i t c h e n D e s i g n

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