Popularized by countless cooking shows on TV, a chef’s life has never been more fascinating to the public than it is now. Millions of viewers tune in every week to get a behind-the-scenes look at how food is prepared in restaurant kitchens across the country. With the success of these T.V. shows, it comes as no surprise that QSR Magazine has noted that “transparency” is one of today’s top trends in the quick service restaurant segment. A growing curiosity in cooking as an occupation, along with an increased interest in the ingredients in restaurant menu items, has prompted a new design trend for all types of restaurants: open kitchens.
Open kitchens are not new. Restaurants such as Chipotle have had open kitchens for years, preparing food and showcasing ingredients in front of customers. Dubbed the “Chipotle Experience”, the chain’s open kitchen design is intended to provide total transparency to customers, as employees grill meats, chop vegetables, and assemble burritos and bowls in plain view of guests. Another popular quick serve chain, Subway, embraces this model to illustrate how they help customers “eat fresh”.
Not just for quick service restaurants, open kitchen design trends are showing up in casual and fine dining restaurants as well. A newly reopened T.G.I. Friday’s location in Nashville boasts an open kitchen design that takes up 25% less space than the restaurant’s previous kitchen. In addition to providing an up-close look at how chefs cook customers’ favorite entrees, T.G.I. Friday’s COO Ricky Richardson also notes that the location’s open kitchen is also expected to help the company reduce energy usage.
Tips for Creating Open Kitchens
Careful planning and execution is the key to creating a successful open kitchen for your restaurant. Far from a do-it-yourself project, open kitchen design is best left to an expert. Choose designers and contractors who are experienced in creating open kitchens for restaurants. After you have assembled your team, make sure to communicate your expectations for the project, providing them with detailed information about your kitchen staff’s workflow. Efficiency is vital for success for any restaurant kitchen, but is even more crucial for those with an open design since customers will be able to watch everything that happens in your kitchen.
Quality restaurant equipment is also essential for an open kitchen. Make sure that your equipment not only functions well but also looks good. Well-maintained kitchen equipment can help to raise the intrinsic value of the food served in your restaurant because it gives customers the perception that you are truly invested in the quality of your restaurant.
Training staff members about how to work in an open kitchen is critical. Remind staff members to always conduct themselves with the utmost degree of professionalism since guests will be able to observe their behavior at all times.