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The Benefits of Theater Cooking

Theater cooking and open kitchens are becoming a prominent and popular feature in the foodservice industry.

There are many ways that restaurants can incorporate elements of theater cooking, from a completely open kitchen to implementing action stations throughout the restaurant. Here are some benefits to incorporating theater cooking into a dining establishment, as well as some considerations for making this happen.

Highlighting the Dining Experience

Theater cooking brings with it a number of benefits, all of which can result in increased engagement and satisfaction from patrons. As younger demographics place more and more value on experiences, these items will become more and more important.

Provide an Experience

It is not surprising to see experiential dining increase in popularity given the focus Millennials place on dining out and documenting their dining experiences. Theater dining allows visitors to get more than just food for their money. They’re able to engage with the chefs, learn a bit about cooking, and have easy and engaging conversation topics to share with their fellow diners.

The icing on the cake is that theater dining makes for great social media content – for owners and patrons alike. Simply put, with open-style kitchens, dining can be as much about the entertainment as it is about the food.

Be Transparent

Theater dining is more than an experience. It also provides diners assurance that their food is being cooked in a skilled manner and in a clean environment. It also increases engagement between the chef and diners. A study has found that by allowing chefs to view the diners, they become more committed to providing quality food. The ability of chefs to feel the appreciation of the diners increases the quality of the food they produce. 

Save Space

Adopting an open kitchen can provide valuable, additional real estate, which can be critical given the costs of purchasing or renting a restaurant space. Open kitchens eliminate the wasted spaces between the kitchen and dining spaces, which can potentially lead to additional seating around the kitchen. This space-saving can mean the ability to serve many additional diners during each service.

Enhance Appetites

It has been found that seeing and smelling food can increase an individual's appetite. Putting your restaurant’s great food front and center will allow diners to be tantalized by the delicious smells and tempted by all the great food they see being prepared in the kitchen. 

Setting Up Your Open Kitchen

While it’s clear that theater dining can bring valuable benefits to a restaurant, setting up an open kitchen or action stations requires different equipment considerations than a traditional restaurant kitchen. You will need to decide whether to open up the main cooking area or create smaller action stations throughout the restaurant that feature specific food preparations. Operators also need to decide where to locate dishwashing and other functions that aren’t desirable for display.

Once the format of the kitchen is determined, the next step is to analyze the types of foods that will be prepared along with what equipment is required to execute the menu. For example, pizza, bread, and pastries could be well-served by a wood burning oven. A wok range could service a large variety of cooking styles, including Asian, Middle Eastern, and Italian. If you are serving Mexican or traditional American food, a grill or griddle might be a better option. Be sure to consider any regulations for your local areas, such as sanitation and ventilation. Just because you open up the kitchen, this doesn't relieve you of complying with these requirements.

Action stations can also provide a similar type of open-cooking presentation. The difference between action stations and bringing the back-of-the-house to the front is one of mobility. It’s hard to move a kitchen, but action stations can be relocated.

Lakeside Can Help:

With over 70 years of experience, Lakeside is perfectly situated to help you create a theater dining experience perfect for your restaurant. Lakeside offers a diverse product line that supports all your needs, including storing, heating, cooling, and display. We focus on collaboration with customers to find the perfect product solutions.