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, Graham Kille, technical sales director at Rational, shares his thoughts.
Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
Flexibility and connectivity are the two key areas. We are working very closely with some key market sectors, pubs, care homes, hotels and hospitals in particular. Ghost or dark kitchens are a significant current market growth area – the delivery market is big business at the moment and will be for the next six to 12 months. However, we expect a return to some normality later in 2021.
Have you seen customers significantly change their kitchen operations in any way over the last 12 months? If so do you feel these adaptations are here to stay?
Customers are definitely considering flexibility of the equipment and their operations –multifunctional appliances, such as the Rational cooking systems, offer a real benefit here. They are also showing an increasing awareness of sustainability and utility costs, and giving them much more importance within the decision-making process.
In the changing work environment flexibility is the key to many peoples’ kitchen plans. Being able to adapt has proven to be critical to the survival of businesses.
Do you expect the Covid -19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?
Yes. Kitchens will need to be more flexible. Also, the way customers view equipment and the way manufacturers present it has changed, with much more activity happening online. Connectivity of kitchen appliances has also received a big boost from the pandemic, as it can reduce the number of kitchen visits, for example for collecting HACCP information, checking equipment operation and even service calls.
What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?
The flexibility of equipment and flexible service options – allowing the business to switch between restaurant and take-away service. I would also highlight the potential for mixed service operation, serving customers in the restaurant and offering a delivery service. Factors will also include taking advantage of connectivity and sustainability, including energy efficient equipment.