A restaurant boasting the first airside window into a commercial kitchen at any UK airport is turning over 1,500 covers a day just six months since its launch.
The Grain Store Café and Bar at Gatwick Airport made history when it launched this year as the design and build project incorporated the installation of a window into the kitchen.
The Alan Nuttall Partnership won the tender to oversee the planning, consultancy, build and installation to turn what was a bare shell unit into a full service restaurant. It worked closely with acclaimed designer Russell Sage and catering designer Graham Barrie to deliver the landmark ‘airside’ window.
Simon Frith, director of project solutions at Nuttalls, says the design took its inspiration from the group’s site flagship site in the centre of London.
“The King’s Cross restaurant was designed around the idea of the exploded kitchen, a flexible space that blurs the lines between kitchen and dining room, with elements of the cooking process spilling over to the table.
“The five-metre long glass wall at the Gatwick Grain Store was designed to tap into this idea. Separating landside and airside, passengers are able to look through the window directly into the pastry and prep kitchen and see the chefs at work – the first of its kind in any airport.”
Already the venue is serving around 1,500 covers a day and, like King’s Cross, sources its vegetables and meat from local producers, where possible, with many menu items coming from within 30 miles of the airport. The kitchen has also been designed to fit in with Gatwick Airport’s promise of serving meals within 15 minutes.
Taking a restaurant in the capital and translating it into a thriving venue for time-pressed air travellers, however, presented its challenges, not just in terms of creating the right menus, but the physical design and build.
“Doing airports is much harder than a restaurant or bar on the high street,” said John Butts, director of Airport Retail Enterprises, which was tasked with formatting the brand for the airport. “Our project was unusually challenging as the space had not previously been designated for catering. We also had to deal with the usual challenges of an airport build including security screening, adhering to the airport’s stringent mechanical and electrical standards, fire proofing of all materials and the bomb proofing of the feature window. The airport also had to remain operational, which required an extra level of co-operation and commitment to public health and safety, all to a tight timescale.”