Prepping for the Future with Flexible, Adaptable Equipment Choices

Restaurant footprints are shrinking; demand for delivery and takeout is skyrocketing; and labor is short. And the usual demands of the restaurant industry — battling for customer share and balancing tight margins — remain prominent challenges.

For these reasons and many more, flexibility is critical for restaurants to meet changing needs, now so more than ever.

Preparing for an unknown future

“Flexibility is key,” Josh Broehl, senior VP at design consulting firm Big Red Rooster, told Nation’s Restaurant News. “Kitchens need to be designed for optimal efficiency, but they also need to have the flexibility to adapt to the future.”

Here are three ways you can support flexibility in equipment selection and use:

1. Built flexibility into the foundation

Flexibility should be integrated into the initial design phase rather than retrofitted later. Designing with flexibility in mind allows for gradual enhancements over time to meet evolving needs and demands.

For instance, workstations can start with basic components and expand as necessary, accommodating future growth. Select equipment that can adapt over time to serve as multi-functional prep stations.

Consider the versatility of equipment; for example, a prep table on casters can double as a rolling rack, while an ice bath cart can serve multiple purposes such as beverage cooling or cold protein storage.

2. Embrace modular design

A “plug-and-play” approach may help restaurants continually adapt to shifting demands, posits an author at Foodservice Equipment & Supplies. Operators can swap or modify stations quickly using mobile equipment.

“Restaurateurs need to be able to design their restaurants to adapt and change as quickly as the times,” columnist Carlos Espinosa wrote. “With the plug-and-play methodology, nothing is ever fixed to the ground. All workstations should be flexible enough so staff can quickly alter the space by swapping equipment from another area.”

The first step in this approach is to carefully consider the mobility of selected equipment and how it might be used to support your needs. Maybe it’s quickly setting up a second makeline for takeout on busy days or using portable equipment to support new menu offerings or daypart expansions.

Remember that in today’s restaurant kitchens, wheels are your friends.

3. Use space wisely

While no one has a ton of space to spare, using every available inch is particularly critical in smaller restaurants.

Operators should consider not only the traditional horizontal space in the kitchen — the tabletop and floor square footage — but also the vertical space. Creatively using higher and lower surfaces can dramatically increase the amount of available working space.

Shorter, low-profile work surfaces or storage carts that can roll under other countertops when not in use provide maximum capacity in minimum space. And options like Protein Rails use oft-underused vertical space to expand holding capacity for prep work or to create a convenient, easy-to-reach packing line for to-go orders.

Versatile food prep carts from AyrKing can provide flexible workspace solutions that can adapt to evolving needs. Available in various sizes with customizable features, these carts can offer a utility tool for any operation.

As needs expand, these carts easily transform into full prep stations with available accessories like an overshelf, cold storage, a side shelf for half-size pan and dipping basket, a hanging shelf below the work surface, and more.

By implementing these strategies, restaurants can enhance their adaptability to meet current demands and grow in the future. Learn more about AyrKing’s sturdy, flexible food prep carts today.

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