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This post was written by Francis Loughran, the founding director of Future Food. With over 35 years of hospitality experience, Francis specialises in concept development, food service strategic planning, design, retailing and food service management.

The way a customer rates a place is not on the size or scale of the shop, but how immersive and experiential the environment is and how it complements the food offering. So, your food and design need to work in harmony, which means operational efficiencies and ergonomic design need to be implemented perfectly.

Let’s delve deeper into the key considerations of a concept to ensure functionality meets clever and creative design.

Front of House vs Back of House

Well-balanced design is a product of demarcation – the ability to design a tenancy so that there is clear division between zones including the kitchen, counter and/or bar areas and seating zones.

As rental rates rise, it is becoming increasingly important to create an efficient concept in a smaller space to maximise sales return.

This poses the challenge of creating a visually appealing environment that has limited storage space and the majority of its aspects exposed to the customer, whilst also keeping it practical for food production and customer interaction.

Over the years, the Future Food team has developed a thorough understanding of shop concept designs and what the best practice standards are specific to the concepts, nuances, and operational efficiencies and functionality, relating to the Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH) division of the spaces.

We like to do a ‘walk through’ to emulate the customer service procedures and food production activity of an initial design concept to ensure the sequence of service and customer interaction works well in the space.

This means going through each process, including customer ordering, behind counter production, BOH production, food delivery and payment. This achieves ergonomic success, maximises customer turnover and reduces risks associated with poor operational management.

conceptualising movement through restaurant

Counters and point-of-sale zones

Technology is now a major component of food retail and needs to be planned for and accommodated for in the design of an outlet.

The point of sale (POS) zone is often the interface between the operation and the customer. So, it needs to be presented professionally.

This is when smart design comes into play to ensure that visually unappealing aspects of this zone are hidden and don’t detract from the visual presentation of not only the food but also the retail tenancy.

Think of things such as POS terminals, screens, cabling, printers, etc – these are not features that customers want to see. And whilst they are essential, they are not the hero of a food operation.

Counter and display zones should be eye-catching. It is imperative that counter capacity is established to contain turnover volumes, and to maintain fresh produce to provide a vibrant and abundant display that draws customers in.

Having display cabinets that are too large not only results in empty spaces or food wastage, but it reduces the concept’s appeal.

Our borrowed mantra – ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’ – aims to communicate the need to plan and design with every detail in mind.

Details such as napkin sizes, where they will be stored, how will the condiments be displayed and where will patrons get their cutlery must all be integrated into the design from the beginning to ensure that harmony between the food and experience can be met.

Lastly, functionality and service reviews are integral in the design phase of a concept to test for efficiency and speed.

Let’s look at the example of a barista station with its working components of machine, grinder, knock-out tube/drawer, milk fridge, crockery storage, and paper cup storage. If this area is not perfectly designed, an operator is minimising their efficiency and therefore their sales opportunity and customer turnover.

By reviewing this process in the initial phases of a concept, any issues can be teased out to ensure a space that is both highly efficient and visually appealing.

About Francis Loughran

francis loughran of future food guest author

Francis Loughran specialises in Retail Food and Food Service Management and is the Founding Director of Future Food. He has been involved in the food service industry for 35 years.

Francis has built a wealth of knowledge and experience in concept development, food service strategic planning, design, retailing and food service management.

His work includes a diverse list of projects, including involvement in planning and development waterfront developments, restaurants, cafes, food courts and fresh food markets, along with food service solutions for restaurant precincts, stadia, airports, mixed-use developments, leisure and entertainment precincts, and corporate office towers.

For more advice and expertise from hospitality industry experts, be sure to check out some of the other articles on the Impos blog!