Approaches to a hotel kitchen layout are as varied as there are recipes for roast turkey. Many are good, many are not so good, and some… Well, some should just never be served to the public, or your family for that matter. Assuming you care about them of course. But each day I see different designs by different consultants and as I can see the logical approach to many of their plans, more often than not, I cannot tell from the design what type restaurant it is.
As I’ve mentioned before, we specialize in restaurant kitchen design and hotel kitchen design, but over the last year or so, we’ve been working with a very, very large senior living company on several of their new projects as well as many remodeling locations. This certainly isn’t an industry we have experience in, but being the 9th largest senior living company in the US, they were looking for a fresh approach outside the “institutional” style of food service these facilities are typically modeled after. I commend them on this approach actually… They are looking towards the future and realize that the next generation will be residents in these facilities that are better educated about food, wine and what true fine dining is; and they are making the move now to meet those needs. Although I must admit it has been a learning experience for me and my team, but due to the volume of food they are producing, it was simple to modify a concept based on a hotel kitchen layout… It is a very different world than what we’re accustomed too.
Nevertheless, my reason for this story is that in our first meeting with the Director of Construction Development for this company, my first questions for him, as is for 99% of my clients was… “Can I see your menu?” Almost without skipping a beat, his response was… “Why?” And with a clearly puzzled look on my face I’m certain; I looked at him and said… “Well, how am I supposed to know how to design you kitchen unless I know what you want to cook?” With a now equally puzzled look on his face, he explained to me that in the 20+ years he’s been doing this, a food service consultant has NEVER asked to see their menu. I explained that even though I know, I am not your typical designer; I really think it is kind of common sense. To make a short story longer… That meeting was in March of 2010, and since that first meeting, we have acquired 4 more contracts with this company and are the single common thread in all their projects. Every place we are developing uses a different architect, engineer and general contractor! I take that as a great compliment, particularly coming from an industry that we really have no experience in… Who would have thought?
The moral of the story is that whether you are starting the design for a new restaurant or hotel kitchen layout, your job (or your client’s) is to know and understand the vision and stay true to it. Grasp it, write it down, put it into words, say it out loud and show it to your friends… Can your friends see that vision after they’ve read it? Plot a course to that business you see in your head. Just like that new dish you see in your mind’s eye is created to portray that vision, your restaurant, hotel or in this case, a senior living community; can only be your vision and YOUR vision alone.
My job and the jobs of architects, engineers and general contractors are to understand your vision and offer the tools needed to make it a reality based on the requirements determined by the restaurant or hotel kitchen layout we establish in the design process. Sure it makes my job easier since I know how to prepare your menu, but it is the picture that you see in your head that is most important. Your toughest job is to assemble that design and development team who can see that vision you see, and turn it into a reality… This I think is a far more difficult task than anyone truly realizes.
Eat well my friends!