The ability to create and build a perfect commercial kitchen will always come down to what application it is needed for. A busy city centre hotel kitchen, for instance, will require a different choice of equipment, lay-out and flow of service to an independent café. In this special report, FEJ picks out four key sectors and examines the factors that operators need to be aware of to maximise their back-of-house investment, starting with quick-service restaurants.
When it comes to kitchens for quick service restaurants, the clue is very much in the name: not a single second should be wasted between the customer placing their order and receiving their goods.
It’s a production line approach that requires access to unbreakable equipment and seamless flow. Research shows that a seven second drop in the average waiting time can increase a chain’s market share by 1% — on that basis the design of the kitchen can be a make or break component.
Customers that visit a fast food business are typically looking for speed and convenience more than a memorable dining experience, and that should be reflected in the kitchen model if operators are to truly maximise profits.
High-flying US fast food chain Wing Zone launched its first store in the UK earlier this year and it employed RDA to manage the kitchen build.The starting point for setting up a fast food kitchen almost certainly lies with the workhorse equipment — the kit that’s intrinsic to processing the huge volumes of fries, burgers, chicken wings or whatever else it is that drives sales. In Wing Zone’s case, a “sizeable” Manitowoc 5-tank fryer is one of the mainstays of the kitchen.
One challenge for many QSRs is that kitchen space tends to be at a premium, as it was for Wing Zone. “Everything had to be meticulously space-planned down to the last POS printer,” says RDA’s lead designer, Nick Bradley. “This required a detailed understanding of the preparation and cooking operation and we effectively had to ‘walk the journey’ of a Wing Zone chef to determine precisely where to place a 400x400mm bench to set down chicken tenders prior to frying.”
1. Standardised kitchen design is what makes a QSR kitchen tick. This means proven kit that cooks quickly and consistently, tools to minimise food waste and systems that are highly automated.
2. Every inch of space needs to be maximised and the flow from food assembly to counter minimised as much as possible. Even things like using both sides of a sandwich preparation table are favoured by QSR operators out to ensure space and resource are not wasted.
3. Flexibility is in vogue. Whereas QSRs would once use a single piece of kit for one menu item, they now want the option to cook different products on that item and exploit the trend for customisation.
Meet the distributor
Name: Restaurant Design Associates (RDA)
Address: 5 Apollo Court, Monkton Business Park, South Hebburn, Tyne & Wear, NE31 2ES
Tel: 0844 873 4993