There is no question that the franchise model has evolved over the years. In today’s landscape, franchises have to be on the cutting edge, not only in business acumen, but also in kitchen efficiency. You have heard the stories of some franchises making one change to their kitchen operation, and in the process, saving millions of dollars given the economies of scale. While some franchises are bigger than others, every franchise has to start somewhere. Given that, I want to break down what constitutes a good kitchen design, as well as provide tips for saving money moving forward. Instead of learning as you go, why not know the right questions to ask up front?
When preparing a new design, it is imperative that the kitchen designer, architect, and owner keep the communication open and flowing. The architect provides crucial information to the kitchen designer, such as wall layouts, door sizes and access, and electrical and plumbing requirements. From the owner, the designer will need the anticipated foot traffic, number of meals served in a day, the types of food being offered, and a copy of the menu. Just as important, the owner needs to convey the theme and concept of the restaurant with the designer. In today’s market, presentation and showmanship are vital parts of many operations. There is an old saying in the food service industry: “If consumers are hungry, they eat it. If they want a dining experience, they eat out.” Make sure you give them that experience.
Once all the logistics and concepts are agreed upon, it is time to actually deliver on the design. Below is a list of items that should come with every good design:
-Food Service Equipment Schedule and Floor Plan Layout
-Electrical and Plumbing Rough-In Drawings (showing location and sizes of the rough-in)
-Submittal Book with cut sheets and written specifications for each piece of equipment
-Detail Shop Drawings for all Custom Equipment (i.e. fabrication, hoods, walk-ins)
-Walk-in Cooler/ Freezer Pit detail or Floor detail
-Wall Blocking Locations (if applicable)
There are other design variables that sometimes get overlooked in the process. Here are some points to take into consideration when finalizing the design:
-Door hinging: the direction in which doors swing open is crucial to your operation and space requirements
-Gas type: Always confirm the type of gas with the architect and designer before ordering
-Voltage and Phase: Always double-check that the voltage and phase requirements for each piece of equipment matches the rough-in drawings, as well as the submittal book
-Warranties: What are your expectations for the warranty on the project? Standard industry warranties are typically one year for parts and labor, and an additional four years for compressor parts. If you want an extended warranty, this needs to be addressed up front
-Dishwasher: Always verify the direction of operation if the dishwasher is a conveyor type. Also verify if the dishwasher is a single point connection or multi-point connection
-Color Selections: Many serving lines and display cases require that the end user provide a color selection for the laminate. This color scheme should be determined during the design phase of the project (not at the time of ordering)
-Energy Savings: There is a lot of great technology in today’s food service industry. Many products are EnergyStar rated, and other applications (such as fryers) offer new technology to reduce overhead and manpower. Ask your designer how they can leverage this new technology into your design. Some agencies even provide you a rebate for using this smart technology
Before any franchise opens, it will require an inspection by the health department. You will also be required to have an inspection for the exhaust hood and fire system, as well as the refrigeration system for the walk-in units. My suggestion would be to contact the health department and inspection agencies early in the design process and find out what regulations they will be looking for. Why not design the project around the proper regulations before ordering any of the equipment? It makes sense, and your inspections will go much smoother. The last thing you want is a bad inspection just days before you are trying to open.
With proper planning and a great design, your kitchen will provide you added profits and efficiency for years to come. With tight profit margins and the price of food and overhead on the rise, a well-designed kitchen can provide the efficiency and savings to make the difference.