A more unorthodox approach to traditional kitchen design will be necessary in future as operators increasingly adopt ambitious business models and take on sites in challenging settings, a leading foodservice design consultant has suggested.
Mike Coldicott, managing director of Tricon Foodservice Consultants, the largest kitchen consulting practice in Europe, said there was no question that kitchens were becoming smaller but warned of the need for a “constant balance” between front-of-house and back-of-house.
He said that while operators were under pressure to maximise revenues, design consultants had a duty to be realistic in terms of what a space can generate and produce.
“A good kitchen designer of course appreciates that bums on seats generate the revenue – we are not in the world of designing cavernous kitchens, it has got to be practical and realistic for the space to be able to deliver. But equally, if the engine room of the kitchen isn’t big enough to support the dining space then it is going to impact on the revenue generation anyway. If you can’t deliver the range of menu and the speed of service, your diners aren’t going to come back time and time again.”
He cited the example of London’s Gherkin tower, where architects originally planned a 240-seat dining room with a full a la carte menu but had allocated only a very small area for the kitchen. Through negotiation, that was eventually revised to 140 seats to be able to accommodate a kitchen suitable for satisfying its menu and service expectations. “As a business case it still works, so the return on investment for creating the right space to deliver the right space absolutely worked in that situation,” said Mr Coldicott.
Mr Coldicott, who was speaking at the recent Great Hospitality Show, also cited Gordon Ramsay as an illustration of how an alternative approach to production can work. The TV chef was heavily criticised in the press for offsite production for his gastro pubs, but Mr Coldicott said the model “actually makes an awful lot of sense”.
“A lot of these sites were very spatially challenging, so to take an element of it and consolidate it offsite was quite a smart exercise. There is no one-solution-fits-all, you’ve got to consider each and every site on a site by site basis.”
Tricon is working on a project at the moment involving a 60-storey tower in Central London. Logistics consultants established that the building would typically require 600 deliveries a week, but planning permission was only based on 300 deliveries.
“On this particular project we are looking at a central logistics hub on the outskirts of London and then ferrying the food in on a consolidated basis. But it is going to be situations like that which drive designs of the future.”