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, Hoshizaki UK & Ireland director Simon Frost shares his views.
Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
Over the course of 2020, customers and staff have undoubtedly become more cautious about the hygiene levels and safety of venues they visit, not just front-of-house, but back-of-house too. This high level of caution and curiosity is one that we anticipate to grow further in 2021, hence why operators should consider opting for an open-plan kitchen design if space permits.
By opening up a kitchen, operators will literally be providing customers with clarity as to what goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant kitchen, and therefore, will be able to reassure their customers that their kitchen is hygienic, safe and abides by government guidelines.
When creating an open-plan kitchen, it’s also important that the aesthetic of the kitchen is kept a priority. Within the Hoshizaki-Gram range, operators can find a wide variety of sleek and functional solutions which are ideal for an open-plan commercial kitchen. Take the recently launched Gram Eco Plus KG140, for example. It boasts the same award-winning credentials as the 5th generation Eco Plus models, yet with a transparent new twist as it provides caterers and customers with a clear view of the contents of the fridge. This not only reduces the amount of times the refrigerator door is opened throughout prep and service, but also enhances the aesthetic of the commercial kitchen.
Do you expect the Covid-19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?
Customer demand for a wider range of quick-serve, takeaway options hit its pinnacle in 2020 – a high level of demand that we expect will filter through into 2021 given that dine-in restrictions currently remain in place, and a large portion of customers still feel more comfortable staying at home.
New kitchen designs should therefore incorporate technologically-advanced pieces of equipment which are capable of helping operators meet takeaway food demands.
Hoshizaki’s brand new range of Snowflake 2-in-1 Blast Chillers, for instance, allows caterers to safely blast chill hot foods in quick times. To put this statement into perspective, caterers using the SBU 40 HT can chill foods from as high as +90°c down to +3°c in just 90 minutes. This means that caterers will have plenty of time to freshly bake and cool popular items such as pies, pizzas and pastries before the doors of the venue opens.
What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?
The financial affect that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on many hospitality businesses has been draining to say the least, hence why an increasing amount of operators are now looking to lease equipment models rather than pay for a new unit outright. This shift in purchasing pattern will without a doubt impact the way kitchens are designed in 2021 given that many operators may only be able to invest in a new kitchen refurb if financing options are available.
It was for this very reason that Hoshizaki UK felt that now was the right time to initiate a leasing scheme. With payments starting from as little as £50 per month on three, four or five-year contracts, caterers can now extol the many of benefits of operating world-class refrigeration, freezers and ice machines without having to outlay the total cost of the unit all at once.