Design Matters: Back to Front – Tony explores the benefits of designing front and back of house as a whole
When planning out a new restaurant, front and back of house are often treated as two very separate entities, often with the front of house focused on design, and the kitchen focused on practicalities.
In our experience, this doesn’t lead to a successful restaurant. A comment I often hear from chefs is “designers don’t understand how a restaurant works”. You have to breakdown this design barrier and combine form and function – the two shouldn’t be separated.
When designing the front of house, so much focus is put on the visual impact that it’s easy to forget it is also a work space and needs to facilitate a job. Similarly, the aesthetics of the kitchen are often overlooked, but are increasingly on show.
A design scheme should look at the restaurant as a whole, both in how it works together from a practical point, but also how the visual elements of the spaces flow and knit together.
"Even the most visually beautiful restaurant isn’t going to cut it if it's operationally flawed"
If you think of a restaurant as a finely tuned machine, all of the inner workings: the waiter station, bar and glass wash, to the service station, kitchen and pot wash, must work in harmony as one to ensure a smooth running.
Space is often at a premium and clients want to make the most of every millimeter – especially FOH, where every extra cover is extra income. Simply working off a layout plan doesn’t give you a real sense of the building, we work off 3D models so that we can envisage how the staff can best use the space.
Thinking about the work flow is essential. Mapping out every step the FOH staff will take around the restaurant – where they need to interact with each other, customers, or physical elements of the restaurant – will help to evolve the design to optimise the space and functionality.
Essentially, the design of a restaurant needs to incorporate function, not just aesthetics. Ensuring every moving part connects in a logical and practical way allows the service to flow both ways seamlessly.
Get this right and you are onto a winner, as even the most visually beautiful restaurant isn’t going to cut it if it’s operationally flawed.