Kitchen could have been a busted flush for restaurant that was once a toilet

Precision Refrigeration at Festa sul Prato

The owner of an Italian restaurant located in a former park toilet has told of his quest to find the slimmest equipment on the market due to the size limitations placed upon his kitchen.  

Martin Hoenle, owner of Festa sul Prato in Deptford’s Folkestone Gardens, was left with only a small area to fit a kitchen after opening his establishment in what was a derelict toilet block.

Prep, cooking, cleaning and storage are fitted into just 15 square metres – and there has to be room for two chefs and a KP to work effectively.

“Finding a location in London is very difficult,” said Hoenle. “Festa sul Prato means ‘a feast in the meadow’ and I really liked the idea of being in a park – plus it gives us a huge outside seating area in good weather. This whole area is being regenerated. We are in at the start, and hope to be a key part of that regeneration. When we found it, the toilet block was totally derelict, without even a roof, but we could see its potential.”

Despite being so small, the kitchen provides a full restaurant service. It can serve 40 covers inside and accommodate a further 40 outside in the summer. “We cook in a combi steamer and on induction hobs and keep the menu simple – interesting pasta dishes, grilled meats and so on,” explains Hoenle.

Although it has a modern, minimalist design, the restaurant is proving popular with a wide variety of customers, including Deptford’s growing art and design set, while locals have been attracted to its weekend breakfast and brunch.

One of the biggest design challenges facing the kitchen was ensuring adequate refrigerated storage, especially as the restaurant places a firm emphasis on fresh ingredients.

Hoenle worked with project partner Catering Equipment Solution to find a space-saving solution and opted for Precision Refrigeration’s slimline counters and individually refrigerated drawers.

“A big selling point with the individual drawers is that they can be switched from fridge to freezer mode at the touch of a button. Plus, they are stacked on top of each other. They give us the sort of flexibility we need in a kitchen this size,” he says.

The counters, meanwhile, are only 520mm deep, so they give the brigade room to work. With the kitchen footprint being so tight, the counters are sited back-to-back, creating a central island that gives the brigade a good sized prep area.

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