Outdoor cooking is a great way to attract customers who enjoy dining in the fresh air and sunshine. It can also help restaurants expand their seating capacity, diversify their menu, and create a unique ambience. However, outdoor cooking also comes with challenges and requirements that restaurants need to prepare for. Here are some things restaurants should consider before setting up their outdoor cooking stations:
Depending on the type and size of the outdoor cooking station, restaurants may need different kinds of equipment, such as grills, smokers, fryers, steamers, ovens, stoves, burners, and more. Some of the factors that restaurants need to consider when choosing their equipment are:
- The power source: Outdoor cooking equipment can be powered by gas, electricity, charcoal, wood, or other fuels. Each power source has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, availability, safety, and environmental impact. Restaurants need to choose the power source that suits their budget, location, and preferences.
- The capacity: Outdoor cooking equipment can vary in capacity, depending on how much food they can cook at a time. Restaurants need to choose the equipment that can meet their expected demand and avoid overproduction or underproduction.
- The portability: Outdoor cooking equipment can be either portable or stationary. Portable equipment can be moved around easily and stored away when not in use. Stationary equipment can be more stable and durable but may require more space and installation. Restaurants need to choose the equipment that fits their available space and layout.
These include the food ingredients, utensils, containers, packaging, and other items that are needed for preparing and serving food outdoors. Some of the factors that restaurants need to consider when choosing their supplies are:
- The quality: Outdoor cooking supplies should be of high quality and freshness to ensure the safety and satisfaction of customers. Restaurants need to source their supplies from reliable suppliers who can provide them with fresh, organic, and local ingredients whenever possible.
- The quantity: Outdoor cooking supplies should be sufficient to meet the demand and avoid waste or shortage. Restaurants need to plan their menu wisely based on the availability, seasonality, and affordability of the ingredients they source. They also need to monitor their inventory levels and reorder their supplies as needed.
- Storage: Outdoor cooking supplies should be stored properly to prevent spoilage or contamination. Restaurants need to have adequate storage facilities such as refrigerators, freezers, coolers, or cabinets that can keep their supplies at the appropriate temperature and humidity levels. They also need to follow the FIFO (first in, first out) method to use up older supplies before newer ones.
These are the rules and policies that govern the outdoor cooking activities of restaurants. They may vary depending on the location, type, and size of the outdoor cooking station. Some of the regulations that restaurants need to comply with are:
- The zoning restrictions: Zoning restrictions are typically used to differentiate between commercial and residential spaces and often define how a particular geographic area can be used. Restaurants need to check with their local authorities if they are allowed to set up an outdoor cooking station in their area and what are the limitations or requirements they need to follow.
- The permits: Permits are usually required for approval from various agencies such as the health department, fire department, or environmental department. Restaurants need to apply for the necessary permits before setting up their outdoor cooking station and display them visibly during operation.
- Safety standards: Safety standards are usually set by various organizations such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) or NFPA (National Fire Protection Association). Restaurants need to follow the safety standards for outdoor cooking equipment such as ventilation, fire prevention, electrical wiring, gas piping, etc.
These are the people who will enjoy the food and service of the outdoor cooking station. They may include regulars, newbies, locals, tourists, etc. Some of the factors that restaurants need to consider when catering to their customers are:
- The preferences: Outdoor cooking customers may have different preferences and expectations for their food and service. Restaurants need to know their target market and what they are looking for in terms of taste, quality, quantity, price, variety, etc. They also need to offer flexible options such as half-portions, sharing plates, or customizable dishes that can accommodate different preferences and appetites.
- The feedback: Outdoor cooking customers may have different feedback and opinions about their food and service. Restaurants need to listen to their customers and collect their feedback through various channels such as surveys, reviews, comments, ratings, etc. They also need to respond to their feedback and make improvements or changes as needed.
- Loyalty: Outdoor cooking customers may become loyal patrons or advocates of the restaurant if they are satisfied and impressed with their food and service. Restaurants need to reward their customers and encourage them to come back or refer others by offering incentives such as discounts, loyalty points, free samples, etc.
Embracing the world of outdoor cooking offers restaurants an exciting opportunity to expand their horizons, attract a broader customer base, and enhance their bottom line. But, as with any venture, success requires meticulous planning and foresight. Restaurants must thoughtfully address critical considerations, such as equipment, supplies, compliance with regulations, staffing, and customer satisfaction, when establishing their outdoor culinary stations. Furthermore, the unpredictable nature of outdoor settings necessitates a contingency plan for inclement weather.
For a helping hand in making your outdoor cooking endeavour a triumph, HPG Consulting is at your service. With our expertise in commercial kitchen design strategies, we can guide you through every step, from setting up the perfect open-air kitchen to crafting a menu that dazzles under the sun or stars. Reach out to HPG Consulting today, and let’s make your outdoor dining experience unforgettable.