Why Should I Hire a Food Service Designer?
This is the most common question asked when the use of a Designer is suggested to a potential customer. “I’ve already hired an Architect!”, is the reply most heard. The answer is quite simple: The Food Service Designer is there to work in conjunction with the Architect. Architects are great when it comes to designing buildings, houses, shopping centers and so on, but when it comes to restaurants, they are at their best when they work with a Designer. A Food Service Designer will ask questions such as, “What kind of menu will be used?”, “How many seats will fit in the restaurant”, “How large should the bar be?”, and so on. These questions help the Designer decide which equipment would best serve the project. Most of the Designers I’ve spoken with have all told me the same story of starting out owning, managing or having worked in some aspect of the food industry. Welcome to the School of Hard Knocks.
Experience in the food service industry is primary to being able to do a proper design. Understanding the flow of a restaurant, health care facility, hotel, country club, is of extreme importance. How many times have you walked into a kitchen only to find the wait staff in areas of the kitchen that should be prohibited to them? Or found that the dishwashing area is way in the back of the kitchen? Or that there’s not enough room behind the cook line for the cooks to pass one another? These are all flaws in the design. These flaws are typical of the designs done by people not experienced in the food service industry.
When I first began my career in Food Service Design, I was told by an “Old Timer” in the industry where to be cautious. He explained the “Circle” theory to me. The theory is as follows. Drop Off, Pick Up, Get Out. When the wait people enter the kitchen, they should Drop Off the dirty dishes, Pick Up the hot/cold plated food and Get Out of the kitchen. This is the most efficient use of time for that person. It gets the food out to the patron quickly and eliminates the congestion that is so common in the kitchen. This also keeps wait staff out of areas they shouldn’t be in.
If the wait station is set up properly, everything that the wait person needs should be within his or her reach. Whether it’s dressings, creamers, butter, bread & butter plates, glass ware, flatware, the design of the wait area can help to make or break a business.
The same thought process should be used for every area in the facility, whether it is the food preparation, cook line, dry and refrigerated storage, bar or dish washing areas. The rule remains the same: keep it simple and make it easy to operate. One of the best ways I know to do this is the use of wall and table mounted shelves. I think that putting a shelf in every open work space optimizes that space, and puts most of the needs for the person working in that location within their reach. This makes their job easier and saves time and money.
So, why do we need Food Service Designers? Because they fill a void that no one else can. Today all chain restaurants have the Food Service Designer involved at the very first meeting of development right along side the General Contractor and the Architect. Large chains understand the importance of the Food Service Designer because they realize that the FSDs are the ones who are there for the ordering, the delivery, the installation, and all the way up until the owner receives his/her Certificate of Occupancy. Big restaurant chains know that “proper” design spells success and that is why they involve their Food Service Designers from inception to completion. The same rule should apply just as strongly for the independent restaurant owner.
Les Grundleger has been part of the Hotel Restaurant Family for over 8 years and has worked as a professional designer in the food service industry since 1999. Les grew up in the Bronx, and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Pathology and Communications with a Minor in Business Math from Lehman College in 1974. Les has been involved in Food Service sales for nearly 20 years. He is married to Sharon and together they share four children and five and-a-half grandchildren. Les enjoys music, sports and spending time with his family. Hotel Restaurant Supply is delighted to have Les on board as part of the team.