The menu ultimately drives back-of-house workflow – receiving, storage, prep, production, and service. The design of these locations, on the other hand, is a well-coordinated dance. The size and layout of one place influence the other.
This well-coordinated dance is designed to adapt efficiently to external influences and trends that can affect the quality and safety of the food served, as well as revenue. Food service operators and kitchen designers continue to adjust to workflow trends.
One famous example is the locavore and fresh food movement, which has risen rapidly in recent years. The trend, also known as farm-to-table, responds to consumer demand for a return to “genuine” food, which means both fresh and local. Chefs now prefer locally grown and/or harvested produce and proteins over processed, prefabricated produce and proteins. This implies that ingredients come at the back door in bulk, just like they would at a farmers’ market. It also implies more cooler space and more thorough preparation.
Another development influencing kitchen workflow is the rise of off-premise dining, which is having a huge impact on restaurant kitchen designs that capitalise on this booming trend. Preparing food for off-premise consumption, including delivery, necessitates finding room for a separate production and packing area, especially if off-premise sales volume grows large.
Packaging, according to food industry consulting organisations, adds another layer of complication to off-premise service. When you place an eat-in order, it is made, plated, and served. Putting an off-premise order into the right packaging adds time and extra stages to the workflow. Every minute counts since the passage of time can alter quality, particularly temperature.
As more operators seek to reduce their back-of-house footprint, workflow optimization becomes more important. Several considerations, including rising rents and personnel shortages, continue to drive operators to reduce the back of the house. The aim is to utilise the available area while still completing the task.
The increasing sophistication of technology is another significant effect that can actually be a solution to some of the other developments. Multipurpose equipment is a direct reaction to the requirement for efficiency and space considerations.
Fresh and Local Complications
The menu is the final point of decision and the primary focus of kitchen design. All of the bells and whistles of new technologies are meaningless unless they assist the manufacturing of menu items. He believes that the first stage in all kitchen design is to conduct an in-depth examination of each menu item to determine ingredient storage, prep, and production. All the better if the operator can streamline the menu to reduce ingredient duplication.
This is especially true as chefs continue to respond to consumers’ calls for the use of local and fresh foods, hence strengthening transparency standards. This trend has been accelerating in recent years. Some process design decisions will be driven by the utilisation of fresh vs. prepared products, ranging from fruit to proteins.
For example, the workflow design for receiving and storage is governed by available space and the type of products purchased. Local, fresh, or farm-to-table items may necessitate more frequent weekly deliveries, necessitating less storage. Fresh products will demand more cooler space than freezer space in the balance of cooler and freezer space.
The restaurant kitchen design specifications suggest no space requirements for mixers, slicers, food processors, or a huge prep area, but the walk-in cooler and freezer were fairly spacious.
If the foodservice operation employs local and/or fresh items instead of prepared products, more prep space is required. Culinary workers, for example, will be required to wash, trim, and portion produce. Fresh foods, particularly seafood, may arrive entire and require cutting and portioning.
Cooking from scratch goes hand in hand with the locavore trend. Cooking from scratch is here to stay. He does not anticipate a widespread return to the use of prepared food. What was convenient for kitchen employees decades ago does not reach the quality standards that diners expect today.
So, what are the secrets to locavore workflow management?
Make room in the freezer and cooler for locally sourced, fresh produce and proteins. More frequent deliveries could be one method to save space. This will have an impact on receiving and will necessitate paying close attention to product turns using the first in, first out strategy.
Pay special attention to food safety and allergen prevention. Keep fresh items separate to avoid cross-contamination.
Foodservice providers who get an abundance of fresh ingredients locally will require prep sinks, prep tables, and the necessary equipment. Staff preparation time is also taken into account.
Offsite — Design Changer
According to numerous reports, four out of ten operators intend to invest additional resources to increase their delivery and takeout operations. According to the report, 45 percent of individuals are more likely to have their food delivered from a restaurant than they were two years ago.
According to industry research firms, delivery sales will rise. The Indian internet meal delivery sector was worth approximately 2.9 billion US dollars in 2020. Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the market fell by 32%. According to Statista, it is predicted to regain traction by 35 percent by 2025, reaching nearly 13 billion dollars. (Link: https://www.statista.com/statistics/744350/online-food-delivery-market-size-india/)
According to Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the National Restaurant Association’s Research and Knowledge Group, the mix of delivery, drive-thru, and takeaway will account for 63 percent of all restaurant traffic in 2019. This trend is a game changer, requiring operators entering or growing into that area to prepare carefully.
Consumers have two distinct views on on-premise and off-premise dining. They are satisfied if they receive their off-premise cuisine within half an hour. They are less delighted if they are seated in a restaurant and it takes a half hour.
The issue with off-premise ordering is that, if done through third-party ordering, any number of tickets can flood the kitchen at the same time, causing a volume problem. Eat-in orders are usually more manageable because they are related to the number of seats and table rotations in the dining room. The high volume from third-party systems puts strain on the production process, especially if it does not operate independently of eat-in production.
When they are busy, some concepts disable third-party orders. That’s ridiculous. You’d rather learn how to handle sales than turn them away. As you design, consider how the increasing demand influences the equipment you use, the space you have, and the techniques you employ.
Labor becomes a significant element when separating on-premise orders from off-premise orders into two production lines. At peak times, operators that build two independent production areas will require two sets of personnel.
As the off-premise market expands, kitchen design will progress to the point where there will be no front of the house. This has already happened in a number of urban locations. These production kitchens, often known as ghost kitchens, typically offer food for delivery exclusively.
One idea goes a step further, imagining numerous independent operators banding together to use a commissary to prepare fresh and local ingredients for scratch cooking. He observes that this will necessitate daring thinking. It would also necessitate continual management to ensure quality. Food safety would have to be at the top of the list as well.
Most businesses that make a significant commitment to delivery will have a dedicated space for taking off-premise orders. This also acts as a pickup location for delivery services.
Kitchens are getting smaller.
New restaurants necessitate a reduction in back-of-house area for operators. The freestanding suburban restaurants of yesteryear are quickly becoming a thing of the past. In addition, greater occupancy expenses accompany the relocation to urban and rejuvenated neighbourhoods.
Guest sitting cannot be compromised because it is the source of revenue. As a result, you must operate with less room in the kitchen.
Staff can do double duty on various prep and production procedures when the kitchen is reduced in size. Restaurant kitchens continue to decrease their footprints, whether to save money on rent or labour. Noncommercial facilities, such as hospitals and schools, typically have legacy space, which means they have been in the same location for a lot of years and that space is typically rather large.
Because the menu is what pays the rent, the issue for restaurant operators is to reduce their footprint while maintaining menu quality and safety. If a business previously occupied 3,000 square feet and downsized to 2,500 square feet, the kitchen must be reduced in size to make the income numbers work.
Design consultants are being forced to make the most of every inch of the back of the house due to shrinking kitchens.
Designers have been dealing with the space issue for quite some time. Mobility and flexibility are their solutions. To install fixed equipment that necessitates piping, utility connections, or ventilation around the perimeter of a wall.
The centre of the kitchen is now free for moveable tables with drop wires. Culinary personnel can utilise these tables for prep in the morning. The prep equipment can then be stored beneath the tables, freeing up space for production. This allows you to make better use of your area.
For morning preparation, you can utilise a variety of tools. Assume there is an oven on the line. You may utilise it in the morning to prepare the cooked chicken or veggies, and then devote it to production in the afternoon when the restaurant opens.
A smaller footprint may imply less storage capacity for food and supplies. More frequent delivery is one answer to limited food storage space. The disadvantage is that many large wholesalers have minimum order sizes. Smaller orders may fail to satisfy the minimum due to increased frequency. Smaller or speciality distributors, on the other hand, are usually willing to handle more frequent orders with no minimums.
In terms of supply storage, designers recommend utilising existing space by adding shelving and employing loft-style shelving seven feet above the floor. Use storage areas above other equipment, such as walk-in coolers, as well.
Flexibility and mobility
Manufacturers continue to invest in new equipment and technology to assist in the resolution of space and labour concerns. Many newer pieces of equipment do many functions, which helps to overcome the reduced footprint problem. These goods frequently demand less labour as well.
Consider the kettle/braising pan combination. This combination allows for tremendous flexibility in cooking operations such as browning, searing, frying, boiling, cooking, and holding.
Combi ovens, which have become the oven of choice for many in recent years, also provide culinary flexibility. Additionally, the reduced equipment may reduce the need for venting.
An informs out that as part of green building trends, ZNE (Zero Net Energy) building, all-electric eateries are being created. Chefs must adapt to using electric equipment and cooking without physical flames.
Independent of the green movement, some operators are trying to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and transition totally to electric. This approach enables for kitchen reengineering for efficiency and flexibility. This trend is only going to get worse.
The ultimate purpose of optimising back-of-house flow is to enable front-of-house service workers to give a good eating experience.