Planning a commercial kitchen? the Tick Box Exercise explained.
So, you may have recognised a gap in your local marketplace and it starts with a desire to open a restaurant that serves your style of cuisine to an audience of diners that will appreciate it?
For many, the reality of getting this dream out of the blocks is the most daunting. You’ve potentially found your premises in the correct location, with the right footfall, with a population density that will find your food and service attractive.
But what happens next? What are the first steps? We have broken down the route to fitting your kitchen and reduce the ‘Mountain’ in front of you down to a set of hillocks that are easier to deal with.
What is your USP – Unique Selling Proposition Avoid serving food you can get in a competitor’s restaurant within 2 miles of your location. Your food and the style its served is what makes you stand out.
Your menu ultimately determines what equipment you need in your kitchen, but the following basic questions need to be answered to help galvanise how we quote and what you buy.
- Gas or Electric?
- Natural gas or LPG gas?
- Single Phase or 3 Phase power available?
- Extraction required?
- Any planning issues relating to commercial extraction?
- Number of potential diners?
- Open 7 days a week?
- Restaurant and/or function catering?
- Calibre and Number of staff required to cover all shifts and deliver your food?
At a very early stage, we highly recommend you invite your local Environmental Health Officer (EHO) to meet with you on site. Every food business in the UK must be registered and your EHO must be made aware of your intention to open a commercial kitchen. EHO’s are a great source of support and will advise locally on extraction, food hygiene law, assess the risk factors of your food business, staff training, administration and your legal obligations as a food business. But without their approval, you cannot open a legitimate food business.
- When do you want to open? You’ll be surprised how many clients leave buying equipment until 7 days before they want to open!!!! Most suppliers run to a lead time of 2 to 4 weeks on project work.
- Consult an equipment supplier to meet and discuss your aspirations. The ideal is to have a supplier visit your kitchen space to take your brief, measure up and absorb what will fit.
- Create a kitchen floor plan that will allow your food and service style to be delivered efficiently.
- Its wise to request quotes from 3 suppliers to allow you to scale all the price points, assess how it harmonises with your budget and how you feel about their abilities (How comfortable you are with the relationship).
- Its also wise to read testimonials from past clients from all suppliers.
- Review all quotes and floor plans to ensure they thoroughly capture all your requirements.
- Never be timid about asking for clarification and changes to equipment position or specification.
- Price up independent and local installers as they are often a lot cheaper than the equipment supplier who may have to factor in time out and mileage for their technicians.
- If you are purchasing extraction as well as equipment. The extraction must be installed first. Gas appliances cannot be connected unless there is a commissioned extraction system and gas interlock in place.
- Plan to have your kitchen installed and operating at least 1 week +, prior to opening to iron out snags, allow staff to familiarise themselves and test cook menu dishes.
Taking your equipment order forward.
- Request a pro-forma invoice which illustrates the agreed payment arrangement.
- Consider a lease-to-own arrangement to spread the cost and free up your start-up capital.
- Submit your deposit.
- Be realistic about lead times and plan for delays – just in case.
Tell the World!
- Create a website and make sure you always feature current menus. A diner wanting to visit you this weekend doesn’t want to see sample menus from last Summer!
- Promote using social media platforms. Not a fad anymore, its essential.
- Try a soft launch service with friends and family to reveal weak points in service and systems.
- Advertise your launch night and tell locals, food writers, bloggers, and anyone who will honestly appraise and promote your new venture.
Remember, when paying customers book and walk in, you only have one chance to impress. Your food, service, ambience and dining experience has to be 100% right from day one.
- Always keep an eye on food and service trends. Competition is huge and a new restaurant opens every day. The key for success is to retain existing diners and attract new customers.
- Be honest with yourself. If numbers are dwindling, carry out local market research to track what could be going wrong. Visit other local eateries and monitor what they do well. React accordingly and be adaptive.
- Strive to have a 5 star hygiene rating. EHO’s will rate your food business. More information about this can be viewed via the Food Standards Agency website.
Do you have a project coming up and wish to discuss setting it up? Call me, Paul, on 01733 286000. Option 1.