When it comes to restaurant fads and crazes, many ideas are cyclical, and others are just passing trends. Often they are used as gimmicks or, on occasion, simply to help the flow of the restaurant become more efficient.
In the past, the attitude to restaurant layout was relatively staid and perhaps even dull, but over the years, there’s been a move to make the design of an establishment almost as important as the food on the menu.
This has led to exciting moves to reshape the way we look at dining in. One of these changes comes in the form of restaurants that opt to have an open kitchen bang in the middle of the dining area. There are many pros to this way of ordering your restaurant, as well as some negatives.
The Positives of an Open Kitchen
Clearly in its infancy, the idea of having kitchens out in the open, in full view of the clientele, would have been something of a novelty and may even have been problematic for customers who may not have been expecting to see their meal being constructed in front of them.
Now we are far more used to such a situation, and many diners like to see the hustle and bustle of a kitchen in full view. If you run an efficient, clean, and effective kitchen, then having it on show is a major positive. It shows that your establishment is in total working order, and this can act as a significant benefit and could even encourage repeat visits.
There is a school of thought that chefs cook better food when in an open kitchen, the idea being that they can see customers enjoying the fruits of their labor. This is opposed to chefs and their assistants being hidden away in the back and being totally oblivious as to how their output is being judged or consumed.
Another widespread assumption about open kitchens relates to the smells that waft across the restaurant, direct from the open kitchen, which may lead to customers ordering more dishes, which is a solid assertion, though one wonders if this has been analyzed more professionally.
The open kitchen can also act as a nice distraction for customers, especially those who may not be having the most communicative first date perhaps, the chefs almost become something of performance for the customers. It’s also a great way to save space; by placing the kitchen in the middle of the dining area, you may eat into the overall capacity of the restaurant, but in the end, you may be able to use better what square footage you have to play with. If you can make good use of excellent restaurant furniture, such as what’s available here, and pair it with a well-ordered open kitchen, you can really help to build a great atmosphere that’s in keeping with your overall aesthetic.
The Negatives Of an Open Kitchen
If the food you serve is pretty basic, then having an open kitchen may not be the best idea; there’s a reason why McDonald’s would never opt for such an arrangement. It’s best only to consider such a layout if you are running a diverse and well-received menu. In other words, having an open kitchen just so you can see someone frying some fish in batter doesn’t make a great deal of sense.
There’s a sense that one doesn’t need to know how the sausage is made, so to speak, where some might find the act of watching a dish being put together less appetizing if the dish isn’t all that adventurous, so take that into account if you are considering running an open kitchen.
Some chefs and kitchen staff may not like being the center of attention, and distractions could occur. Most kitchens are loud and aggressive places, as workers are put under pressure to complete rigorous tasks to order. If the kitchen is on display, two things could happen.
Firstly, your head chef may feel less able to voice their displeasure at a fellow worker and could perhaps not pressure them effectively, or alternatively, they could barrack them in full view and earshot of customers. This might be entertaining at first but could end up distracting customers from their meals.
With this in mind, an open kitchen shouldn’t really house that many workers, so if you can run on a smaller staff, then this is fine, but if perhaps your open kitchen has a dozen or so people involved, this could quickly descend into farce.
The heat of a kitchen could permeate to the customers, this too can be a factor, and similarly, a mixture of smells from the different dishes could prove damaging, but this is hard to judge until you test accordingly.
One absolutely crucial factor to take into account when considering an open kitchen, the meals should be ones that are made from scratch. Having an open kitchen only so customers can see you using frozen or pre-packaged ingredients is not a good look. So if your establishment is using fresh produce and being made entirely in front of a customer, then this is precisely what makes an open kitchen look as it should.
The reasons for having an open kitchen should be a merging of decorative and functional; for example, if your reasons for having one are solely to impress your customers or just to save space, then it might not work. If having an open kitchen does a bit of both, then the reasoning becomes more sound.
All the equipment on display must be sparkling and attractive, and the whole kitchen needs to be ergonomically planned. It must be built for purpose and designed in a way that helps kitchen staff to go about their tasks in a methodical manner. Lighting is also an excellent way to make an open kitchen stand out, or not, depending on how you choose to ‘sell’ the idea of the open kitchen.
There are some open kitchens that are almost inviting an audience and those that are there more for show. Make sure that your open kitchen isn’t a diversion and that it operates well; in other words, an open kitchen won’t go down well if meals take longer to produce and plate.
Having an effective open kitchen can be a great way to give your restaurant extra buzz, but it’s not something you should consider without taking into account all the ways it might become a distraction.