18 February, 2021
To see and be seen, open kitchens in restaurants
Opening up the heart of the restaurant to customers is a hotel industry trend that diners have fallen in love with. Providing an up-close view of the magic that happens around the stoves goes far beyond showing the work that goes into preparing a dish, it is a new way of understanding kitchens and attracting customers to the restaurant.
While in the traditional set-up, the kitchen is in a space away from the clientele, hiding the secrets of the dished behind their doors; we are now witnessing the breaking down of these barriers (physical and psychological) between the kitchen and the dining room thanks to open kitchens. In these spaces, diners can enjoy more than just taste; the chefs and their teams become the stars of the restaurant in a live gastronomic show, and their kitchens are the perfect setting to demonstrate their art. And the most interesting thing is that by revealing their work to the eyes of those who are going to enjoy it, chefs are stimulated to surprise diners in that phase of their gastronomic experience as well.
The truth is, with these open-plan designs, the real changes are in the processes being carried out. We can easily see that kitchens are attracting more attention; they are more entertaining for diners and even a little addictive (who isn’t left dumbstruck at the wonders that can be created with produce that is often left in the freezer at home?). They are the perfect setting for visually enjoying the chefs’ work with the food that will later be enjoyed by the palate.
To summarise, what are the advantages of open kitchens? Firstly, they attract the customers’ attention, by demonstrating that the work being done there is worthy of being shared and admired. They also generate greater confidence by showing how dishes are prepared. In addition, there is an interaction and a connection between the kitchen staff and the diners, offering the multi-sensory experience of being able to see the process before tasting the food.
How to attract attention with an open kitchen?
When installing an open kitchen in a restaurant, there are a number of things to consider. It’s important to be clear about what you want to display and what you want to keep behind closed doors. Having an open kitchen in the restaurant does not imply having to show all the processes; it is up to the restaurant to decide what its strong point is and what it will use to attract attention.
Subsequently, you have to determine the design of the kitchen and how the customers will be involved. The design can vary from having an open kitchen facing the dining room or a kitchen with a bar around it so that the diners can get involved in the preparation process themselves. However, the ideal set-up for an open kitchen is a 50/50 between being attractive for customers and functional for the cooks.
And, finally, as with any traditional kitchen, you have to establish the operating parameters, both in terms of the space (order and cleanliness, maintenance of equipment, noise and odour reduction, etc.) and the staff (task planning, uniform protocol, emergency response, etc.).
Once an open kitchen has been installed in the premises, it is essential to publicise it in order to attract customers. How? Publish images of the restaurant, with many striking images of the kitchen, and allow customers to get involved and share their experiences. You will soon notice the reservation book filling up!
Image: ARREA! Restaurant