Front-of-house trends may focus on Instagram and experiential design, but in the end, every successful restaurant experience comes down to the quality of food and the service. And an operator’s odds of scoring high on both of those fronts increases exponentially if the back of house is designed and equipped in ways that empower employees to produce the very best version of every menu item efficiently, consistently and safely.
Increasingly, three overarching trends continue to drive back-of-house design and equipment decisions. Each brings with it unique challenges, opportunities and demands for creative solutions.
Smaller footprints: Thanks to a combination of rising real estate costs, labor costs and changing consumer dining habits — i.e., consuming more food off-premise via takeout and delivery — many restaurant brands continue to shrink their overall footprints and dedicate less space to the back of the house. As a result, demand for more compact, flexible, self-venting equipment continues to rise. Increasingly strategic in their approach, designers and consultants continue to find ways to get sufficient firepower under smaller hoods, to utilize every available inch of vertical space for dry and refrigerated storage and specify multi functional cooking equipment that saves on both space and labor.
Exhibition kitchens: Impacting experiential design for guests, operations and staffing issues, open or exhibition kitchens continue as one of the hottest restaurant trends. Everyone loves the transparency and the energy these features add, but such spaces require extra-careful consideration. They not only have to perform well, they have to do so while on stage, which makes functionality, sanitation and aesthetics key drivers of design and equipment selection. In some municipalities, additional permits become necessary when bringing kitchens out front, and in all instances, strategies for controlling noise, light, odors and heat generated from open kitchens must come into play.
Technology: As more restaurant brands put self-service and mobile technologies into customers’ hands, more thought needs to go into the potential impact on back-of-house operations. Juan Martinez, president of Profitality, a Miami-based industrial engineering and foodservice consulting firm, suggests kitchen designs increasingly need to account for virtual consumers in the production cycle. For some brands, he says, that might mean creating segregated production areas for mobile takeout and delivery orders. For others, it means designing better integration and systems into existing kitchens. But for all, it means planning ahead and taking steps to ensure that mobile orders can be produced and delivered quickly, seamlessly and consistently — without negatively impacting the rest of the business.
Custom refrigeration is available as part of Eagle Group’s custom-fabricated chefs counters and serving counters. One-, two- and three-door models feature self-contained or remote refrigeration, stainless steel flattops or raised rail-style refrigerators. Refrigerated drawers are available as well. Standard features include stainless steel interiors and exteriors, digital temperature controls and front fascia mounted dial thermometer.
Eagle Group Inc.
Double-Mouth Rotator Oven
The Double Mouth Rotator deck oven cooks pizzas in a half revolution due to forced air burner technology that pushes 60 percent gas and 40 percent air using only 84,000 Btus. The oven’s design enables two chefs to cook simultaneously. For example, one on the bar side can maneuver dishes in and out of one opening while another operates the oven from inside the kitchen. Touchscreens allow operators to customize cooking temperatures and rotation direction and speed, as well as to activate automatic on/off functionality and control the unit’s integrated exhaust fan. Tile designs can be customized.
All-In-One Custodial Cabinet
Advance Tabco provides an all-stainless-steel, 84-inch, double-width mop sink cabinet. This all-in-one custodial closet may meet municipal codes that require enclosed mop sinks sanitation purposes. Units come in 300 or 430 grade stainless steel. The doors close magnetically, while the side panels have ventilation slots. Includes fixed stainless steel shelf, mop holders, mop sink, drain and mop bucket storage. Additional mop sink cabinet sizes and configurations are available. NSF approved. Model #9-OPC-84DR shown.
Battery-Powered, Mobile Hand Sink
This mobile hand sink uses a portable battery. The unit features 300 series stainless steel construction, a faucet that blends hot and cold water, a 6-inch boxed backsplash, stainless steel paper towel holder and swivel polyurethane casters with brakes. The tub measures 10 by 14 by 6 inches, with a 31/2-inch basket drain and a 13-ounce soap dispenser. With the help of a UL-listed mini water heater, the unit heats water to 110 degrees F and pumps it through a UL-listed water pump. The unit’s battery can be recharged after 6 to 8 hours of operation.
Compact Grease Interceptor
The TZ-1826 Trapzilla grease interceptor holds the same amount of grease as a 1,000-gallon concrete interceptor in about a third of the space due to its interior baffle design, per the maker. It is rotationally molded out of polyethylene. Trapzilla units have a variety of installation options, from in the floor to outside in a green space, in traffic-rated areas, hanging between floors, and more. The interceptors are sized based on flow rate (GPM). The TZ-1826 is the largest Trapzilla model, at 100 GPM, but smaller units (down to 35 GPM) are available as well.