Posted on Monday 26 February 2018
In a competitive industry like hospitality, every penny you can save or earn counts and operators continuously look for new ideas to entice customers and reduce expense.
Innovation in kitchens and restaurants is always a hot topic here at Lockhart as we work closely with our customers to meet their demands. However, there’s often a battle of minds between the look and feel of restaurants, which front of house are so passionate about, versus productivity, which is key for kitchen teams cooking timely but impressive dishes.
Whilst serving great food is at the top of everyone’s priorities, design and décor play a huge part in making a visit to a restaurant memorable. Dining experience counts when it comes to capturing positive reviews and social media shares. There’s also been a growing trend in theatre-style kitchens and chef’s tables where it’s more important than ever that the cooking environment is aesthetically pleasing. However, the latest commercial kitchen equipment, which will improve productivity, is not known for being conventionally pretty.
This month, we’ve been exploring the impressive innovation of some of our suppliers and show how you can have the best of both worlds when it comes to the productivity and appearance of your equipment.
Williams Refrigeration has found an exciting solution which helps overcome concerns about kitchen design - camouflage. Chameleon is Williams’ new vinyl wrapping service that allows you to personalise your equipment. This opens new possibilities for integrating it into the overall design of your restaurant. Using a special food-safe material, it can be printed with any colour or design and can be used to cover almost any model in Williams’ extensive product range. It can even be textured to create a more realistic finish - the possibilities are almost limitless. Instead of the usual tough stainless steel, fridges could be a beautiful classic white marble. Maybe you would like to have a brick effect or even wooden planks on your undercounter freezer drawers – it’s up to you! If you already have a theme in your kitchen, you simply provide Williams with the design. For those who don’t, the Williams team can create graphics in-house, matching any RAL or Pantone colour.
"Foodservice businesses are under constant pressure to innovate and stand out from the crowd" said Martin Laws, Marketing Manager of Williams Refrigeration. "Chameleon is a show-stopper and the perfect way to personalise equipment and make an impact. There is a definite trend towards more appliances being customer-facing as even equipment that was once back of house is now being used front of house. For example, several restaurants have put Williams coldrooms – suitably clad with a designer exterior – in the middle of the dining area, to display food such as meat or cheese."
Another key supplier focusing on innovation in kitchens is Winterhalter with its ‘Connected’ Wash. This is a networked Winterhalter warewasher providing more safety and efficiency in the kitchen. Winterhalter machines have always been very intelligent but by connecting machines, data can be extracted and analysed. This is done by an app or a portal on a PC with the results being shown in simple to understand graphics or alerts. An operator will immediately see if there are any critical malfunctions or whether there are operational issues that will affect performance or results.
Paul Crowley, Marketing Manager from Winterhalter, told us "Connectivity is growing within the industry. It's becoming increasingly popular on a variety of equipment and CESA is already working on an umbrella platform that all connected equipment will feed into. Operators will then only use one platform to monitor equipment, rather than platforms per piece of equipment. There are many cost-savings associated with connectivity, but the most significant savings come from hidden costs as downtime is expensive and often overlooked. One example is staff having to wash dishes by hand due to equipment issues. When staff take on extra tasks like this, tables aren't turned around quickly enough, and this can lead to complaints. This can influence staff morale and motivation so it’s something you really need to avoid."
Connectivity will also check simple things like if the machine has chemicals in. This is something which isn’t always visible to human eyes so could mean food being sent out on dirty plates to unhappy customers or lost time spent re-washing.
Ultimately, connectivity is about being proactive. So, whoever has access to the app or portal can anticipate issues or ensure best practice. A dedicated person will monitor everything from lack of chemicals; a door being opened before a wash cycle is complete; a machine being turned on too early in the morning; the drain down function not being operated at the end of the day, and many more.