When you get right down to the basics of any design effort for a foodservice establishment, the same objective exists with each and every project: design an efficient and effective system to prepare and deliver food and beverage to the guest. That's it. Nothing too fancy. But it is much easier said than done. In previous columns, I have focused heavily on design techniques within the back-of-house. But design techniques in the front-of-house, specifically those related to service, are equally dependent on both design and execution. Unfortunately, many overlook the importance of design as part of the service equation, and attribute the service performance almost exclusively to operational execution. In this column, we will take a look at some front-of-house design techniques that can help promote quality service. To clarify, I want to focus on the functional aspect of the front-of-house, not the aesthetics. Although good design cannot ensure good service, bad design will almost always result in bad service.

by Lee Simon

I seem to have hit a chord with my last installment, The Kitchen Evolution, by introducing the concept of flexibility in commercial kitchens … or the current lack thereof. I received the largest response from readers of the column to date, who wrote to me in search of more specific information, examples, and insight on the subject. Given this response, I wanted to take the time to further explore this concept of flexibility.


The Kitchen Evolution

As a one of my colleagues often criticizes about the design of most kitchens in the foodservice industry … "We are still cooking in Escoffier's kitchen." What he is implying, and correctly so, is that the design of kitchens and the equipment within them has not changed much over the last 100 years or more. Escoffier could walk into a modern kitchen and feel quite at home. Consider for a moment the progress that has been made in other industries over the course of a century, and then look at our industry. Ford recently celebrated 100 years in business. 100 years ago Ford was making the Model T - and look at where they are now. A deck oven from the early 1900's look remarkably like the deck ovens we still use today. Looming on the horizon is what I believe to be the Kitchen Evolution.

by Lee Simon

The pyramids are fantastic structures. Centuries later, we still marvel at their creation. In the days of the master-builders of Egypt, when the pyramids were built, those who were responsible for the design of a building or structure were also responsible for the construction. There was one person, or perhaps a unified group of people, slated to oversee the development of the structure from start to finish. As the design and construction field evolved over time, the two functions - design and construction - have become separate. In certain cases, I have seen owners try to save money by not hiring the design team to play an active role in the construction process. Today, there is a definite shift back towards one team performing both tasks, and the Design/Build option is becoming increasingly more popular.

Spend Your Money Where it Counts
by Lee Simon

The automobile manufacturers have it all figured out. After much time and research, they have found ways to use the same base model for multiple brands with completely different quality perceptions. Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura for example, use many of the same structural systems, processes, and infrastructure as their less expensive sister brands - Toyota, Nissan, and Honda. The difference is often in the finishes, the accessories, and the package of services offered in conjunction with the purchase. The higher priced models will have standard features such as leather, upgraded trim packages, high quality sound systems, and potentially such luxuries as GPS mapping or standard vehicle maintenance programs. Their less expensive sister brands will not. In many cases, however, the base construction of the vehicles in both quality ranges is identical. The result is a choice made by the consumer as to what is truly important, and where one's money should be spent.