Throughout London there seems to be a continuing theme. Some of the most successful restaurants in London at the moment have a similar premise. Do what you do best. Do it well. Do very little else.
Variety is the spice of life, but, dear budding restauranteur; your capital already has variety. In droves. Your potential customers already know where to buy their favourite steak. They have their little secret spot that does the best carbonara. They know a fantastic little gem that does the freshest sushi. They even know that quirky bar that does food good enough to get by with an ambience that more than makes up for any compromise. Needless to say, in the capital we are catered for.
As a general rule your clientele don’t go to a restaurant and decide what to have, they decide what they would like to eat and THEN go to an appropriate restaurant. It is an important distinction and most would do well to take note.
Many enter this industry thinking that bells and whistles are the order of the day, that their establishment, and in particular their restaurant kitchen, should have all the latest and greatest kitchen equipment. That may not be the case. To weather the point, If you intend on servicing the finest ‘cheese on toast’ in London, you may want to scrap all the catering equipment and spend the money on a good heavy duty salamander grill, some commercial fridge and freezer space and a well thought out prep area. If it’s the best cheese on toast in the city the people will come. They will come when they fancy cheese on toast, and a lot of people like cheese on toast.
Unless you are an El Bulli trained chef with aspirations of a Michelin star (on that note, good luck to the team at Bravas – Victor et al, reinventing their restaurant at St Katherine Docks) you ‘probably won’t need more than the basics; a commercial fryer, a combination oven (10grid max), a commercial six burner and/or solid top and a chargrill or flat griddle. Think it through carefully and consult an expert on what commercial kitchen equipment you buy (may I suggest us?)
NB: A quick word on stock on macroeconomics using this strategy. I’m sure the horse being flogged is a tad inanimate, but:
One thing to buy = Buying in greater quantity = Negotiate bigger discounts = Manage stock levels more easily = Waste less stock = Save even more money = Pretty great strategy
Back to the Back of house, so to speak.
The simpler the menu, the less variety of kitchen equipment you are going to need, but do not instantly assume it will be far cheaper. The greater the bulk of foodstuff you are going to prepare, the heavier duty the kitchen equipment you are going to require. If you are using a boiling kettle, to cook 300 lobsters every night you won’t last more than a week with a *insert name of that ridiculously poor quality kit you bar guys insist on buying online* branded boiling kettle. Buy an Elro boiling kettle (ideally from ourselves). If you are serious about this, trust me they are the best in the industry. To tangent briefly, we once arranged the sale of two of these units, second hand, between two of our longstanding clients. An established hotel chain and a world-renowned stadium. The central production kitchen they are now in have used them day in day out for the last 10 years to cater for up to 40,000 people a day. They require a yearly service, are cleaned regularly, and as a result never seem to fail *seeks 12mm ply to touch*. They don’t go wrong. If I had to stake my reputation on one piece of commercial kitchen equipment it would be between those and a White-Efficiency Rational Combination Oven.
Please take note of this and maintain the same quality of production that has seen that company succeed over the their history, and please forward my additional discount percentage due to unanticipated free marketing to MARK REES at Rees Associates, Suite 9-11 High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2SA
To sum up, these restaurants are doing well, their restaurant kitchens ar simple but their design fundamental. If you wish to follow suit get in touch with an established Kitchen Design Consultant to make sure the kitchen equipment you envisage can cope with the volume of food you are going to be producing to turn a decent profit. A continuous profit. Over the next 10 years.
Good luck with whatever you chose, and whether or not you listen to anything I’ve said. I look forward to seeing your ‘Super-noodles and Springbok’ chain prosper for many years to come.