Marra Forni, based in Beltsville, Md., is the fastest-growing brick oven manufacturer and is at the crossroads of artisan workmanship and technology innovation. As service spaces are being re-imagined, and operators in all market segments are seeking to differentiate their businesses and customer dining experience, there are new thoughts regarding how cooking and production equipment contribute to engagement and placement within the operation.
As a veteran in the foodservice space, Ed Arons, partner, and managing principal at ColburnGuyette Food Service Design has specified many hearth ovens throughout the years.
In a recent food hall redesign for Travelers, ColburnGuyette Food Service Design’s gut renovation goal was to completely change the look, culture, and dynamic of the dining experience.
Marra Forni’s pizza oven sits dead center in the front of the house, beckoning employees into the space.
“The oven is a large showpiece that is handcrafted, artisanal, and the focal point of the dining area,” Arons says.
Everything in the servery design has a square or rectangular shape, with the exception of the oven and its surrounding counter, which are circular.
“We have this grand and ornate oven that is double-sided, which adds a different twist from a traditional pizza oven,” Arons says.
Wrapped in a patina bronze material, the Marra Forni oven has a weathered, industrial look that sets off the circular counter that wraps around it.
“When employees approach the oven, the food platform is there on display out in front,” Arons says. “On the back side is where all of the prep and production takes place.”
Not only is the oven double-sided, but it rotates to keep the flow efficient for speed of service.
“The oven doesn’t generate power and heat from wood, as it runs on gas, but the built-in wood storage adds to the aesthetic and gives an element of old school cooking,” Arons says.
ColburnGuyette Food Service Design worked in close collaboration with Marra Forni to connect aesthetically with the space.
The oven is a standout in the front of the house, visible up to 100 feet away. “The oven sets the tone for the entire space,” Arons says.
Evan Felps, director of interior design for Singer Equipment, also has seen firsthand how Marra Forni ovens can transform a space.
“We worked on a large baking concept at a college where Marra Forni’s oven was the centerpiece; we built the entire bakery around the three-sided oven,” Felps says. “There also is the aesthetic flexibility to put any finish on these ovens.”
What adds to the ambiance is the oven’s live flame and interactivity with chefs.
“The ovens enliven the space and become theater,” Felps says. “We can create a color scheme around the ovens. The equipment can blend in, accent the space, and provide branding for versatility. This oven piques all of your senses.”