I was recently involved in a case study of 5 small restaurants with an area of about 600 sq. feet plus some additional outdoor seating. Out of these five restaurants, the one that had the best seating & warm interiors couldn’t survive beyond 4 months. This, despite the fact that the restaurant / lounge was always packed with patrons. What then, led to its downfall?? The case study revealed that only 15% of overall space was allocated to the kitchen area. This error resulted in multiple unfortunate and totally avoidable fallouts.
First off, the kitchen was unable to cater to a packed dining area. Due to decreased kitchen capacity, the speed of production suffered.
Secondly, in a span of 8 hours the lounge could only dish out products of “x” amount of value. This meant that even in its maximum production capacity, the restaurant couldn’t have been profitable.
Thirdly, the operation cost escalated due to high breakages resulting from insufficient and improper storage space.
Also, small storage space also necessitated the use of processed food items (which could easily be made at a much lower cost) further increasing the food cost & reducing profitability.
Allocating less than 30 % of the total space available for their kitchen is a blunder that must be avoided at all costs..!!!
Additional benefits associated with a larger kitchen are:
- Comfortable work area for staff.
- Ability to cater to bulk orders.
- Easy to maintain hygiene standards.
The second most common error is in the selection of kitchen equipment. Most owners draw up the equipment list based on their current menu with nary a thought given to long term planning and projection. It is advisable to first compile a full extended menu with current list of items, additional menu items that customers may demand, future items that you may add, customized event menus that you have to dish out & future trends which may compel you to add certain menu items.
At the time of drawing up a list of required kitchen equipment, it is not enough to have the menu while deciding the equipment. It is equally important to have the standard recipes of each item. This will ensure that you will have planned for all the equipment necessary for the production methods specified in the recipe. Service methods are also important while deciding the equipment list. E.g.: One would need an assembly line kind of set up if the menu is predominantly packed combo meals.
Now you know the second biggest mistake to avoid… do not decide on the equipment and kitchen layout without creating an extended menu & analyzing the menu.
In fact the right steps in deciding the kitchen lay out are:
- Selecting the menu ( extended menu)
- Deciding on the dispensing method
- Deciding on kitchen equipment
- Designing the kitchen layout.
Following these steps in exact sequence will ensure that items will be dished out in the right temperature at the right time to your patrons.
This brings us to the third biggest mistake that most first time restaurateurs fall prey to. In their enthusiasm for optimum utilization of dining space, and hence, profits, they turn a blind eye, not only to the aesthetics but also to the need for having a varied seating arrangement. Overkill of symmetry is probably the biggest interior designing goof up. If a restaurant has around 10 tables of the same shape and size through out the dining area, it creates an ambience of an Industrial canteen rather than a restaurant. A good restaurant design will have a varied seating plan which would include:
- Tables for two
- Round tables for families
- Rectangular tables to maximize seating.
- Tables that can be joined together to accommodate larger groups.
- A bar counter for single guests or a Singles table.
A fine is balance is required between aesthetics and revenue management to ensure customer satisfaction and success in business.
The mistake number 3 that restaurateurs often make is to sacrifice commonsense & aesthetics for increasing the number of seats / covers.
So now that you are aware of the biggest restaurant design mistakes, I hope that can go ahead with your setting up your dream restaurant with confidence and courage. All the Best..!!
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