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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6 4 • 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 A N U A R Y / F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 9 Form + Function stakeholders and experience the space from any point in the restaurant. The simulation allows the size of elements to be altered, such as a half wall between the kitchen and dining area, to assess the visual impact before con- struction begins. It's also important to consider the viewing perspective from the kitchen side. "We work with a lot of chef- entrepreneurs," Schultz says. "An open kitchen allows them to see and manage all the different environments." The chef, in these cases, wants an un- blocked view of the dining area, bar and reception station, so the design should take into account the sight lines from where the chef is likely to spend most of his or her time. There are many ways to lay out cooking stations, of course, but the most common is perpendicular to dining tables. This ensures that cooks standing on either side of the cooking station do not block the guest view, but it also allows guests on both sides of the tables a view of the action. Breaking up the kitchen into island components, Stillwell says, works bet- ter visually than aligning long rows of workstations. Long rows of cabinets and equipment on casters tend to move out of alignment and look crooked over time, he says. Cleaning between each station as the gaps show is difficult. "You could have a line, but I would prefer to go with a more manifold pat- tern," he says. Within cooking areas, for obvious safety reasons, don't create a workflow that requires handoffs over open flames. Also, have refrigera- tors near ranges to minimize walking distance between them and cooking equipment, and place them discretely under counters whenever possible. Hide trash receptacles similarly. Aesthetics and Guest Perception With an open kitchen, you must con- sider how equipment and supplies look from where the customer sits. Materials must be attractive and easy to clean. It might be more efficient to stack dishes on a counter where they are in easy reach of the cook line, but it won't look good, Schultz points out. So, choose alternatives such as undercounter cabi- nets or discretely placed shelves. "If you need a shelf, use a bracket-less shelf," Stilwell advises, because prominent brackets evoke an industrial look. For that reason, too, it is best to use low-profile flues or dress them up. "You can use a mirror or cop- per or brass facades to hide them," he adds. Placing them higher than usual — say, seven feet instead of six feet, eight inches — makes the space seem more open and visually appealing. "You want to have aesthetics in the kitchen be on equal level with the front of the house," Schultz empha- sizes. Make materials choices accord- ingly. Don't overlook the back wall, particularly if the design creates large, open views to it. Decorative glass or subway tile are attractive choices for the backdrop and clean up well. Some designers use the back wall to feature the restaurant's logo — a great way to add a marketing element in the age of Instagram and Facebook. Achieving an appropriate lighting level in an open kitchen can be tricky. Light has to be bright enough for chefs to do their work but not as bright as, say, a hospital operating room. Over- head lights should emit warm hues — avoid cool fluorescents — and can be supplemented with task lighting to brighten labor-intensive areas. Consider the Border — Or Lack Thereof The area separating the kitchen from the dining area is closest to custom- ers and frames the kitchen from their perspective, so it requires special at- tention to detail. If you want maximum exposure to the back of the house, you could leave this area open from floor to ceiling. Instead of a half wall or large counter, millwork can help mark the boundary between the kitchen and dining room. Small barriers such as an island or counter that is less than the Chefs Club in New York City, designed by Next Step Design, puts the chefs on display. Chefs from around the world take over the kitchen for a set period of time to offer diners a unique and intimate dining experience. Image courtesy of Emily Andrews

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