Restaurant Insider Store Restaurant Insider Store

Metro AW33C Super Erecta Wall Mounts, 18 in Shelf Width

Metro 9992DB Super Erecta Rubber Donut Bumper, 3-1/2 in Diam, 3/4 in H

Metro 63UP Super Erecta Post, 62 H, Chrome-Plated, for use with Stem Casters

Metro 5A577C Super Adjustable Super Erecta Shelving Unit, 4 x 72 x 74-in H

Metro 1424NC Super Erecta Wire Shelf, 14 x 24

Rubbermaid FG1630SQCPLRD 20 gal Can Recycling Receptacle, Retainer Band w/ Liner, Indoor/Outdoor, Red

Metro 1WS18C Super Erecta Chrome Shelf Support For 18-in Shelf

Metro 5MPBX MetroMax Q Stem Caster w/ Brake, 5 D, 300 lb Cap

Metro 5MPB Super Erecta Stem Caster with Brake, 5 Dia., 300 ll Capacity

Metro BC162734BK BC Series Utility Cart, 3-Shelves 18 in x 28 in, Swivel Casters, Black

Designing Calm out of Chaos

By Mark Stech-Novak

Designing Calm out of Chaos, By Mark Stech-NovakThe usual argument for not hiring a consultant goes something like this: “why should I hire someone to tell me what I already know?”

Consultants are professionally trained to help clients navigate through deep and muddy waters. Building a restaurant is a lot like immersing oneself in both deep and muddy waters. However, consultants come in many varieties each with a specific talent and skill.

There are menu consultants, workflow consultants, nutritional consultants, financial consultants, concept consultants, consulting chefs and consultants for chefs. A year doesn’t go by that another new title appears specializing in one of a thousand aspects of this business.

I can’t answer that for all other types of consultants, but it should be no surprise that restaurateurs designing his or her own kitchen is somewhat akin to a surgeon doing surgery on himself. It might be successful! Then again, it might not!

I started working with Alain Ducasse back in 1994 on his project in London. One comment of Alain’s has always stayed with me: Great cuisine is 60% product and 40% technique. The same is true in creating a great restaurant and particularly, the kitchen that runs that restaurant.

In the case of a kitchen, product means equipment. There are a dozen competing brands of just about every piece of equipment; chairs, tables, coffee, sugar, blenders, and those little things that level your wobbly table. It should come as no surprise that every vendor believes that his or her product is the very best. But we both know that’s always not quite accurate. Vendors have every right to try and sell you their product and you, the buyer, have every right to harbor a healthy bit of skepticism.

There are lots and lots of vendors out there, and if you’re building your first new restaurant or your fifteenth, how do you wade thru the weeds and find the flowers?

It’s likely that you’ll find yourself among peers whose experiences can guide you. You may also have first hand experience of the success or failure of the equipment you’ve seen or owned. You can read trade magazines, and research each piece of equipment and sketch up your needs. It might work!

An 800-1000 square foot kitchen space will have a major equipment list of approximately 200-250 items, not to mention smallwares. Add to this the floors, walls, ceiling, lighting, wiring, plumbing, ventilation, POS systems and, of course, the way the whole thing works together. This is called design.

Pulling this together is like being a hunter-gatherer in the information age, especially with the advent of the Internet. If one is curious, the world can truly be your oyster. But, to a greater degree, we have also become saturated with information and have come to the startling realization that “my time is worth more than this.”

The kitchen consultant/designer pulls together the best equipment he can for your budget based on a wealth of knowledge far beyond the talents of most restaurateurs. With that knowledge, the kitchen designer can use his past experiences to bid the project among the best qualified installers. This adds another layer of expertise also designed to shave significant costs from the project.

My clients are mostly all great chefs and restaurateurs. In the thirty-five years I’ve been in this business, they have molded me and guided me from one job to the next.

I think I have also brought a lot to the party in my work with Jean Georges, Norman VanAken, Michael Mina, Todd English, and Sirio Maccioni. It is they who have added much to my experience and expertise. This is why it is said that a consultant is the compendium of his portfolio.

But in terms of hard cash, why bother hiring pricey consultants? Again, one must look at this from the perspective of the kitchen.

You create a set of kitchen plans and submit it to the health department. If you’re fast tracking, you may be 3/4 built and installed before the inspector walks the site. Imagine having them ask you to tear up a $30,000 chef’s counter to insert a hand sink in the middle. Imagine them asking you to tear out the floors of a dozen massive walk-ins because they object to the way the floor coves up the interior walls. Imagine the inspector telling you that all the hand sinks mounted at 36” must now be mounted at 42” above the finished floor.

These events are real and have actually happened! Thankfully, not all of them to me! The point is that a good kitchen consultant will create plans, elevations and isometrics that show not only what health inspectors are looking for but also calling it their attention before it is built. A good kitchen consultant will walk the plans thru the health department’s regulations. With the national price tag for food-borne illness at around 34 billion dollars, this is no small issue.

Imagine having the restaurant opening delayed because an inspector says there is insufficient lighting in the kitchen. When the design makes sense, when it is tailored to the concept as well as to the chef’s vision, the work flows, the dishes come out right, and the turnover in personnel is decreased.

Lastly, good design alleviates stress. A well conceived workflow allows people to do the job they were hired to do, not over-come barriers that should have been removed in the design process. Happy cooks stay longer, happy waiters get better tips, etc. I wish I could say that happy owners make more money, but that alas, is beyond even my powers.

Mark Stech-Novak is the owner of Restaurant Consultation & Design in Oakland, CA.
Tel: (510) 601-7142

This website designed by Business Edge. Click here for Restaurant Website design information