The unanticipated can be risky or downright deadly in the restaurant business. While major kitchen equipment failures don’t — or shouldn’t — happen often, when they do they can have a long-lasting impact on not just an evening’s revenue, but the entire business and brand reputation.
What, then, are the major and developing trends affecting kitchen equipment management and maintenance? Here are three trends shaping the way modern restaurant kitchens function.
1. Consumer Demand is Driving Kitchen Equipment Consolidation
Consumers have a lot of choices in where they spend their money dining out or ordering in. There’s a shift toward demand for choice within menus of the restaurants they do visit, and the ultimate convenience of diverse menu sets that cover everything from steak to sushi.
That drives a need to rethink the kitchen equipment footprint and, more than likely, multifunctional equipment machines that can cover a lot of ground more efficiently. A modern combi oven that steams fish and seafood but also bakes and smokes meats can now take the place of three pieces of equipment. The downside is the elevated risk of that one piece of advanced technology equipment failing and dramatically impacting food service. When your risk exposure is concentrated in fewer, more advanced pieces of equipment, the need for planned maintenance and comprehensive, routine checks increases in importance.
2. Smaller, Open Space Restaurant Design is Putting Pressure on the Kitchen
The size of restaurants continues to trend downward. A 100-seat restaurant with a diverse menu will always stay busier than a 500-seat specialty venue. But whether it’s a strategic operational decision to scale to a smaller footprint or the impact of rapidly escalating retail costs in prime restaurant locations, small restaurants can have big impacts on kitchen operations.
Equipment redundancy is again a key concern here, with smaller kitchen spaces requiring versatile, multi-use equipment that is regularly and rigorously maintained to reduce the risk of failure. An increasing number of these spaces are also becoming open kitchens, exposed to diners who favor seeing the drama of the kitchen and knowing how staff prepare their food. This design choice can add a great deal of atmosphere to a dining space, but also places a critical importance on planned maintenance and aesthetic care for all equipment on display.
3. Big Data is Coming to a Kitchen Near You
It’s not here yet, but the big data revolution will soon land in the kitchen. Equipment design will increasingly incorporate smart functionality to self-monitor and report proactively on a variety of custom data points from performance to parts, warranty expirations and advance notice of needed service and repair. Field technicians should soon be able to provide customers with a more data-driven service analysis. Factory-trained technicians will be able to use the data to not only effectively repair the equipment to operating standard but also to offer insight on the causes of the failure and how it can be prevented in the future.