Restaurant Development & Design

JAN-FEB 2019

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

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J A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 • 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 • 6 3 Form + Function Open Kitchens By Peter Fabris A n "open kitchen" is an imprecise term encompassing many types of designs. Depending on who you ask, an open kitchen can range from providing a view to the back of the house through a large counter-height window to positioning cooking stations next to dining tables so that customers can freely interact with chefs. In whatever form, an open kitchen adds vitality to the customer experience and has become a ubiquitous design concept over the past 10 to 15 years. "Young chefs with 30- to 40-seat restau- rants, in particular, are choosing open kitchens," says John Egnor, president, JME Hospitality. Within such establish- ments, a chef's work becomes a perfor- mance and the kitchen is the stage. Though there are numerous ways to showcase the work of chefs via an open kitchen setting, some design principles apply in all types of concepts. Who Should Have an Open Kitchen? An open kitchen is appropriate for many, but not all, restaurant concepts. "I've seen it in Indian, Brazilian, Asian — you name it," Egnor says. "All forms of cuisine and cooking lend themselves to be open for display." There is one proviso, however: The restaurant should prepare meals from scratch, otherwise an open kitchen can be detrimental. "You sell food visually. The con- sumer doesn't want to see pre-packaged ingredients," says Joel Schultz, design division lead, Great Lakes Culinary Designs. "We are trying to allow the customer to be part of the action, to see how things fire and flame, to see pro- teins on the grill and how things saute. The customer doesn't want to see a lot of bags." It's fine if some standard prep work is on display, but you've got to put on a show that engages the senses — fire for the eyes and sizzle for the ears — if you want to maximize the benefits of an open kitchen. Consider the atmosphere of the establishment. When you install an open kitchen, you introduce noise and activity that some patrons might find distracting. "If it's a sedate and formal venue, I would not do an open kitchen," says Michael Stillwell, principal, Next Step Design. Open Kitchen, Open Floorplan When planning for an open kitchen, understand the space and its relation- ship to the dining room, Egnor says. If the kitchen is the show, make sure it is visible. "You want to make sure that you can see the kitchen and be part of the experience from anywhere that you sit," Schultz says. Computer modeling allows design- ers to simulate the view of the kitchen from around the dining area. "We are modeling all of our projects now," Schultz says. Software like Autodesk's Revit enables designers to share with At Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen at Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, designed by Next Step Design, the chef's table is taken to the next level by placing it within a glass-enclosed showcase. Image courtesy of Hyatt

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