Pros & Cons of an Open Kitchen

Dinner and a show — that’s a classy evening out, right? Open-kitchen design allows you to offer a show of sorts to your customers while they wait for their meals. Allowing your customers a privileged peek into the kitchen while your staff members prepare their food can change the ambiance of your restaurant for the better. However, open kitchens can sometimes be a distraction to both your customers and your staff. Here are pros and cons of installing an open-kitchen design in your establishment.

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Pro: Customers Can See Everything

For customers, there’s something reassuring about being able to see the inner workings of a kitchen. By opening up the design of your restaurant you’re demonstrating transparency — when you say the ravioli is fresh and not frozen, your customers will believe you when they see it. They’ll also be able to see that all of your staff are following rules of hygiene, and that all of your food preparation equipment is spotless and sanitary. Additionally, the behind-the-scenes approach is fascinating for some cooking-enthusiast customers who like to see how the professionals do it. With a window into the kitchen, you’ll attract customers intrigued by the inner workings of your restaurant.

Con: Cleanup Processes Must Be Enforced

Even the cleanest, most hygiene-aware kitchen staff can get swamped on a busy night and might be prone to leaving the tidying up until after the main rush. However, if you have an open kitchen, your crew will need to rigidly enforce your cleaning processes so that every dish, tool, and workspace is either cleaned after use or removed to a section of the kitchen that is not visible to the customers. Food trimmings, stained hand towels and spills must be dealt with immediately. Even the staff members’ aprons and caps have to be immaculate in order to provide the best image of your establishment.

Pro: Customers Might Not Notice the Wait

Being able to watch the kitchen while they wait for their food may make customers’ wait seem shorter during busy mealtimes. If your staff enjoys it, adding cooking demonstrations or flashy showmanship cooking to the mix might be a draw to bring in more customers and keep them happy while their orders are being prepared.

Con: Staff Might Be Nervous

Not everyone likes to know the world is watching while they work. Some chefs enjoy the privacy of their kitchens and will be unsettled by having an open kitchen in their place of employment. New hires, especially, may not feel comfortable and worry too much about making mistakes while they’re on the spot.

Pro: Turns Dining Into an Experience and Not Just a Meal

Of course you want your customers to enjoy your food, but most restaurateurs also want patrons to enjoy the experience of being in the restaurant. The ambiance of your eatery may be defined by the music, the decorations and the entertainment. If you arrange your open kitchen in such a way that all the seats in the house can see it, you may find that watching food preparation is entertainment enough to attract new customers.

Con: Customers Might Be Distracting to Staff

You want your customers to enjoy themselves, but if your open kitchen allows music and chatter from the dining area back into the kitchen, your staff may be distracted from their tasks. Depending on how you design your interior, customers may even attempt to interact with your kitchen crew while they are working. Whether or not this is appropriate will depend on the kind of restaurant you run and how you have trained your staff.

Pro and Con: Noise and Smells

Having cooking smells and noise from the kitchen waft into your dining area from the open kitchen can be considered both a positive and a negative. While the smell of dinner being cooked can certainly rouse the appetite in some, certain dishes’ aromas might be off-putting to other customers. For example, if half of the restaurant orders juicy steaks, the other half sticking to your restaurant’s signature vegan mushroom pecan burgers may not be thrilled. Noise from the kitchen can also be an interesting backdrop to dinner conversations, but if noise from the kitchen can be heard in the dining area, make sure that your staff’s language remains family-friendly.

About the Author: Aynsley Peet is the e-commerce manager for Nisbets.com. For great quality food preparation equipment at Nisbets USA, visit their website: http://www.nisbets.com/.