Running an outdoor cooking operation can be a profitable enterprise during the summer for pubs and restaurants that have the space. Here are 6 things to bear in mind when setting up an outside kitchen.
1. Good flow
In the same way that equipment is specified to suit the layout and objectives of an indoor kitchen, outdoor cooking operations need to be carefully planned. Achieving the right flow and interaction between staff and customers is vital for speed of service and efficiency.
2. Correct staffing
Give staff clearly defined duties and ensure they remain under close management. It won’t be easy for outdoor staff to mesh with indoor staff under pressure, and it is a mistake to loosen control in the early days. Minimise the distance that staff have to walk.
3. Kitchen proximity
Don’t be too far away from the kitchen door. If remoteness cannot be avoided or is particularly desirable, increase your priority for prepped food storage close to the point of service and be prepared for more prime cooking outdoors with a more limited menu. More storage and serving equipment will likely be needed, along with dedicated tableware and accessories to suit alfresco dining.
4. Hygiene control
Maintaining the highest level of hygiene is imperative for any outdoor cooking operation. Cooked and raw foods should be kept apart to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and ingredients should be carefully stored at the right temperature. Refrigeration, prep space, serving areas and handwash facilities are all key considerations.
5. Front facing
Due to the nature of outdoor cooking areas, the kitchen operation tends to be on full display to the customer. Treat it like an open plan, front-of-house kitchen. Equipment should be reliable, robust and attractive, engaging the customer in the cooking process.
6. Turn up the sound!
Last but not least, you need music! Remember that eating outdoors in the UK is always an event and you are selling an experience. Music, smiling staff and confident efficiency is a winning formula!