Restaurant operators have never faced so many challenges over the past 12 months, from opening and closing kitchens at short notice, to transitioning to delivery and click and collect, as well as managing social distancing from a back-of-house perspective. How much of a profound impact will it have on the way kitchens are designed this year? In this special series gauging the views of industry leaders, Tim Bender, sales director at Hobart Equipment Division UK, shares his views.
Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
Delivery is something that was already seeing a large-scale increase even before Covid. Its proliferation and, by association, the rise of dark kitchens is something we see accelerating way beyond the pandemic.
We’ve followed the rollout of platforms like Deliveroo Editions with great interest as we have a host of multifunctional space saving solutions such as our Precipan, which can perform numerous functions in one footprint, and which is perfect for these types of setup.
Have you seen customers significantly adapt their kitchen operations in any way over the past 12 months? If so, do you feel those adaptations are here to stay?
Yes, absolutely. In the past 12 months we have regularly been asked to look into different designs and workflow structures, so that those in the kitchen can safely distance from one and other by way of segregated cooking sections, without impacting the overall operation too greatly.
Currently, it’s the smaller, more compact kitchen units that are definitely more preferable for operators, because if there are large swathes of people simply coming and going it’s harder to achieve full traceability of personnel, which is going to be critical for some time yet.
Do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?
It’s hard to say what the post Covid kitchen will look like but we foresee perhaps a lot more collaboration between full-service restaurants and take-out services with joint kitchens as they adapt to the new environment.
What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?
Staff traceability will continue to be key, as will the requirement to keep a decent distance from one and other for some time yet. Other than that, it’s about trying to future proof the entire operation; understanding what might happen with menus and food supply post Brexit.
Our advice would be to ensure that your back of house kit matches your front of house covers. Operators could easily make the costly error of filling their kitchens with lots of kit when the front of house footfall doesn’t necessarily match the investment.
Our advice, as always, is talk to us, work with your local dealer, we’re here to help specify the correct equipment for every requirement.