If you’re in the foodservice industry, you know that the back of house and the front of house are two very different places. Typically, the customer has a chance to experience the front of house only—but that’s changing. More and more, open kitchen designs are letting diners get in on the behind-the-scenes action.
While I think it’s great to give diners a chance to see what goes on behind traditionally closed doors, it’s also important to remember the needs and comfort level of the kitchen staff. Before you decide to knock down those walls and create an open kitchen, make sure you think about all the aspects involved. Details such as lighting and noise levels have to be taken into consideration.
First, the fluorescent lighting that’s typically used in kitchens isn’t as aesthetically appealing as incandescent lighting one might find in the front of the house—but staff members need a brighter atmosphere to ensure they can see and prepare dishes correctly. Switching this lighting could have a negative impact on the staff’s performance, as well as the quality and flavor of dishes.
Next, kitchens are loud and bustling places. If they’re opened to the front of the house, there may be pressure for staff members to watch the noise levels and, let’s be honest, their language. This can cause added pressure and create confusion among staff members.
For operators wanting to open their kitchen to diners, I think a limited-view scenario is best. Consider a half wall in part of the kitchen, or open up the area that houses just-finished dishes ready to be served. This gives diners a glimpse of what’s happening, while allowing kitchen staff to maintain a level of privacy and comfort while they work.
Talk to you soon!