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 executives, Peter Gray, managing director of Taylor UK, shares his thoughts.
Which kitchen trends do you expect to have the most impact on your business or solutions during 2021?
The takeaway and home delivery trend is the biggest trend we’ve seen and has had the most significant impact on our business. As a result, we’ve seen increased sales in prime ‘takeaway’ equipment like soft serve ice cream machines, frozen drinks equipment and milkshake machines.
These pieces of equipment are easy additions to a wide range of foodservice operations from restaurants through to convenience stores. The products which they produce, like ice cream sundaes and frozen milkshakes, are ideal for takeaway menus as they’re difficult for people to recreate at home and offer a great, cost effective treat which is accessible to all.
We expect this trend to continue throughout 2021, especially if restrictions remain in place for a significant time, as operators will continue to look for new ways to attract customers and keep their offers fresh and exciting.
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?
The move to adapting conventional kitchens and menus to efficiently cater for the home delivery and takeaway markets has been the most significant change which we’ve seen over the past 12 months.
Businesses which have adapted well to the Covid-19 restrictions will continue to offer home delivery and takeaway options even when the restrictions have been relaxed as these have become valuable revenue streams which will be the-cherry-on-top when usual service resumes. There’s no reason to think that operators will go back to normal completely, especially if they’ve discovered a new market which they may not have had access to previously.
Do you expect the Covid -19 pandemic to have a lasting effect on any aspects of the way commercial kitchens are designed in 2021?
Social distancing will be here to stay for a long time yet. As a result, kitchens will need to become as efficient as possible, maximising all available space to ensure staff can work effectively without unnecessary contact and overlap. Where appropriate, new kitchen builds are likely to accommodate takeaway and home delivery sales more effectively.
This may include secondary serving areas and hot holding facilities exclusively for use for takeaway orders, keeping them separate from restaurant orders. Larger locations may even look to incorporate a secondary access to the business for home delivery drivers/riders, keeping them away from the restaurant which will speed up deliveries whilst improving the dining experience of those in the restaurant.
What do you think will be the most important factors for operators when it comes to kitchen design in 2021?
Space will be even more of a premium, especially if social distancing needs to be maintained, therefore any equipment which is specified will need to work as effectively as possible to justify its position in the kitchen. Equipment will need to ‘pay for itself’ cooking or preparing multiple menu items. The days of having random pieces of equipment to do just one thing may be numbered for the foreseeable future.