Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

JUN 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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38 FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES JUNE 2019 resulting in slower service and higher operating costs, and, potentially, loss in business," she says. Rob Reis, design principal and design director for the Hanbury design and architecture rm in Norfolk, Va., agrees that a smaller kitchen does not necessarily mean cost savings. He views it as a balancing act between kitchen size and front-of-the-house seating, with equipment cost being a variable factor. "A smaller kitchen represents fewer square feet — less real estate — while also potentially yielding more seating and higher revenue per square foot," he says. "However, the equip- ment for a smaller kitchen, [which is] more compact and potentially multi- purpose, will likely cost more." Custom equipment might seem like the perfect answer to smaller kitchen space, but the costs involved in producing the equipment are some- times prohibitive, especially if the food items being produced in the custom equipment might not be permanent additions to the menu. The reasons for having custom equipment vary, Reis notes. "From my perspective as an architect, it sometimes has to do with the way things look," he says. "From the foodservice design side, it's often- times because a piece of equipment will have to do multiple things." But custom equipment can some- times be a tough sell, says Gradishar, who feels that buyers tend to stick with the standard equipment "because that's what they've always used." When carefully thought out, however, custom equipment can help maximize space in a small kitchen. For example, many prep tables today now feature power centers to allow easier and closer connection of smaller electrical equipment, such as vacuum sealers or sous vide circulators. A dish table may have trough-style collection bins attached to it so staff can easily dispose of excess ice and used straws before glasses go into the dishma- chine. Saving even a few seconds on minor tasks like those can add up to saved steps and make for a smoother trafc Šow in a tight space. Moving Up Front The trend for display cooking and open kitchens obviously brings visual interest to the food preparation process. But one of the additional benets it offers is the ability to relocate at least some of the food prep and cooking equipment out front, leading to smaller kitchens. And it's more than just a passing fancy or the purview of high-end restaurants — it has brought about a sea change in the way designers and owners think about the kitchen footprint. "Every project I'm currently working on and have done over the last ve years has been shifting to the smaller kitchen and the larger demo/presentation kitchen. I have not seen a case where that's the opposite," Reis says. Even though some equipment may move out of the kitchen proper, design- ers must still allocate space in the kitchen for dry or refrigerated storage for those ingredients now being used in the open kitchen area, as well as for the associated prep functions that staff will perform out of the customers' sight. Appearance considerations also come into play when equipment moves out front. Equipment which might include a slight dent or ding that was once perfectly acceptable for the back of the house now has to be cosmetically presentable. Finishes and lighting may have to be rethought. Open kitchens do "sort of up the burden on the level of nish," says MacEwen. In an open kitchen, he says, "we would want [to use] stainless steel instead of berglass- reinforced plastic panels, and would want to make sure the color tempera- ture of the lighting is correct but still bright enough for the cookline to operate." What's more, staff must keep the equipment and all the prep surfaces in the open kitchen scrupulously clean, or customers can get the impression that food safety standards aren't being adequately monitored. So while it's nec- essary to have equipment that's easy to clean (and to keep clean) in any kitchen, it becomes critically important for open kitchens. Big Is Rare These designers say they are very rarely asked to design larger kitchens nowadays. Gradishar notes that most requests for larger kitchen areas come from noncommercial operations, some of which are reverting to a single, larger commissary-style kitchen that provides food for smaller, satellite kitchens where rethermalization takes place. MacEwen says that his rm sometimes elds requests for larger kitchens from restaurants that want to beef up their catering services. But overall, the trend is denitely toward reducing the kitchen footprint. It's all about kitchen efciency and, as Gradishar says, nding out how to "put as much in a small box as you can." FE&S Right-Sizing the Kitchen One of the additional benets of display cooking is the ability to relocate at least some of the food prep and cooking equipment out front, leading to smaller kitchens.

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