Restaurant Development & Design

JUL-AUG 2018

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 8 How To Reduce a Kitchen Footprint By Amanda Baltazar A mix of factors are conspiring to make kitchen footprints smaller. From buffets to fine dining, owners and develop- ers are seeking to save money on real estate, improve operational efficiency and maximize labor. "It's a huge trend, and I have seen reductions of 20 to 30 percent," says Stuart Davis, vice president, Midwest division with Next Step Design in Chicago. This is because, he says, rents are continuing to rise, especially in major cities, and talent is hard to come by, "so restaurants try to get away with smaller spaces and fewer cooks." At award-winning fine-dining restaurant Elske in Chicago, which opened in November 2016, the kitch- en is contained in just 450 square feet. A showpiece wood-burning hearth takes up about 60 percent of the cookline. The hearth is the only piece of cooking equipment at Elske. During the day, the chefs use it to partially cook vegetables and smoke meats. At night, it's used for everything, and the chef raises, lowers and removes grill grates as needed. "We looked at how to make it as flexible as possible, especially since they have a season- ally changing menu," Davis explains. "It's one of the smallest show kitchens I've ever done. With it being small, every single thing was touched and approved by the chefs, and everything is there for a reason and is multi-use." Prep, dishwashing and storage are in a 900-square-foot space downstairs. Improved Efficiency, Smaller Spaces In April 2016, Raleigh, N.C.-based Golden Corral set up shop but didn't make a single sale. The reason was that it had created a test kitchen to examine a new prototype. The goal was to develop a new kitchen, one that was smaller and more efficient. Once Golden Corral had drawn up floor plans for the new kitchen, it rented a warehouse and did a com- plete mockup — using mostly plywood and cardboard — "so we could do a full-scale walk-around and touch and feel and make adjustments, which is a lot easier than after we build an actual restaurant," says Golden Corral's Senior Vice President of Development David Conklin. "Doing that mockup saved us thousands of dollars in aggravation and time." Doing the mockup was also fairly inexpensive, he adds. "In doing that exercise, because there was a cross-functional team, it gave our operations people the opportu- nity to simulate operating a shift," says Darryl Webb, senior vice president of operations for Golden Corral. "It allowed us to see where there could be built-in efficiencies of less steps and less cross- over of work, so we made sure it wasn't just about reduction of the square footage, but it ended up being a much more efficient kitchen from a labor and Chicago's award-winning Elske restaurant's kitchen is just 450 square feet. Image courtesy of Anthony Tahlier

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