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Widespread Changes: The Future of Kitchens and Restaurants [Podcast]

In this episode of the Boelter Wire, Jason and William discuss how current food service trends and business practices have been affected by the Coronavirus, as well as talk through some future thinking initiatives that restaurants and food service business professionals have been exploring as they prepare to reopen their establishments for business.

 

 

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Excerpts

William Braun: Welcome to another episode of the Boelter Wire. My name is William Braun, Content Manager, and today I'm joined by Jason Prondzinski, the Vice President of sales with Boelter, Jason has more than 20 years of experience in global marketing, sales and support as it relates to the manufacturing side of the food service industry.

So good morning, Jason. How are you doing today?

Jason Prondzinski: Doing great.

Excellent. Thanks for joining me today. I know that this is your first time on the podcast, so if you don't mind, maybe you can take just a minute or two to, you know, talk a little bit about your background, what your current role is with Boelter, what your current focus is, what you've got going on in your life right now. I'm sure you're very busy, but if you could give us a little bit of background, that'd be great.

Jason: Certainly. Yeah. I’m excited to join you today. I've been in the food service industry for over 20 years. Most of my time has been spent on the manufacturing side, in global marketing, sales and support, as it relates to the manufacturing side. I joined Boelter, about three years ago, joining the dealer side of the business and responsible for sales for the contract and design division, with offices, throughout the United States to serve  various customers spread out from business and industry to national chains, to everything in between.

Excellent. Great. Well, thank you for that. So we are recording this podcast on Thursday, April 30th, 2020. We are approaching the end of month number two of the stay at home safe guidelines. How have you been holding up? I mean, I know a lot of us are working from home. Hopefully we have the opportunity to work from home, but that's a pretty, pretty drastic change in dynamic for a lot of people. But how have you been holding up on your end?

Jason: I'm doing well.  It's certainly an adjustment for everybody, and everybody's chipping in where they can and this is the new norm for right now and we're making it the most of it.

That's good to hear. Yeah, it is a pretty big change. I know I've worked from home on prior jobs I've had with other companies. It's not that big of a deal, but I mean, for a lot of people that have young kids that are suddenly taken out of school or taken out of daycare, that's a pretty big change for them.

Jason: Certainly, certainly. Yeah.

What we're talking about today is obviously the effects of the Coronavirus and how it continues to have a significant impact on the food service industry. Boelter is very much involved in food service. We're very much involved in the beverage industry. Thankfully it sounds like we're starting to see some states begin to, quote unquote reopen up and get back to business. Let's hope that's a trend that we start to see the end of this week going into next week and in the weeks coming.

I know obviously you and your team, you're looking very closely at what the future may be like. For a lot of our customers as they begin to open things back up and our customers,  they can be small family run restaurants, it can be large chains, you know, corner bar, craft brewery, even corporate dining and the kitchens and dining rooms of a senior living facility. How they do business and serve their customers. It sounds like it's just going to continue to change, you know, day after day, week after week. Things keep on changing. And it's obvious, none of us have a crystal ball, when you and I have this conversation today, we're, we're just talking about things that we're seeing in the news, on the internet,   research with your people in your department. Looking into that constantly.

I'm thinking that maybe for this conversation we could kind of break it into two parts. The first part being current food service trends and business practices. How have those been affected by the coronavirus? And then maybe transition at some point to talk through maybe some of the new initiatives or what you've been seeing or hearing that's going to kind of guide the future path,  in the next week or the next month or definitely the next six months and how that's looking on your end. Let's start by talking about current trends. So I think that the low hanging fruit for me really would be, something that is pretty common across a variety of different restaurants. We're talking about like the self-service, the salad bars, even beverage stations where you can fill up your own soft drink. Grab and Go stations. I mean this is something that's been going on for a long time. People are very used to seeing it, but I imagine that it's going to be one of the things that's going to be directly impacted going forward as these restaurants start to open back up. What are some of your initial thoughts on that?

Jason: Yeah, it's a kind of a good summary of what we're kind of looking at and trying to stay ahead of the changes that will be forthcoming. The biggest obstacle right now is really the unknown and not knowing exactly where things will land. Once everything will start to open. I think a significant indicator for us will be some of these States that are starting to open up like Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, that are going to be those early adapters and kind of setting the course for what might happen moving forward. As you mentioned, self-serve salad bars grab and go. You know, those are all areas of growth that we've seen over the last couple of years in food service operations. And all of those will be scrutinized moving forward and how they will be scrutinized will still be defined. Given the fact that sanitation, social distancing and all those things need to take place, some of these areas will either grow and some could actually go away.

Self-serve will continue to grow. That was a trend that we saw coming on board from self-serve at a grocery store to being able to pick your product and leave without ever having to transact anything,  stadiums, large stadiums that are doing self-serve now,  just our normal day to day life that we see that everywhere. Grab and go, kind of goes in that same area,  more and more grab and go features. Continued effort to grow to make convenience for the customers to make things quicker.  Less touch points. The one that you mentioned is kind of a really up in the air salad bars. There's been a tremendous increase in salad bars over time and it will be really interesting to see how those are impacted moving forward. When you get into the B&I and large institutional cafeteria type settings and college universities, it'll be interesting to see if those actually stay in place or they get repurposed for other things. That idea of a salad bar as we see it today or we've known it as, will certainly change, and is yet to be defined.

Yeah. And when you say salad bars, I also think of like just anything that's buffet-style right. I mean as we're recording this, we've got Mother's Day coming up and obviously the majority of these restaurants are not going to be open for Mother's Day, but  that almost goes hand in hand. Taking your Mother a big family group together,  or getting together your at favorite restaurant and you've just got this huge buffet and people line up and they take what they want and they pass over what they don't. I'll be curious to see how how that changes and how that's impacted going forward, especially as these restaurants open up.

Jason: Yeah. That's going to be a really interesting transformation over time to see how that interaction works. And I'm not saying that anybody is sitting idle not thinking about how they can maintain their existing offerings, that they have insurance, right. Something that either brand or company is used to always providing. They want to keep that experience with their customers in their customer base, let's say. I'm sure they are trying to develop ways to do that. Again, it will be yet to be defined as we evolve through this.

One thing that's changed quite a bit. Obviously, with a lot of these restaurants, local restaurants, small, large, doesn't matter. You know, with them being essentially forced to close their dining rooms, they've made a huge pivot then to focus more on exclusively on delivery, takeout and curbside pickup. Thankfully that has saved a lot of these restaurants. You know, albeit, maybe they've seen a significant reduction in the amount of revenue that's coming in, but  it's allowed them to make that pivot and keep their business operating. So with such a large focus on, takeout and curbside pickup right now when things get back to normal, whenever that might happen. Do you think that that's going to continue to be a significant business model for these restaurants?

Jason: Delivery has been an ongoing and increasing avenue for revenue growth for chain restaurants, independent restaurants for some time including takeout. Curbside has continued to evolve. The folks that are probably more apt to be able to do this and to grow and continue to sustain it is probably the chains. They've been doing this for a long time and they continue to grow in that offering. When this happened, they were able to adapt much quicker. Either they had already a drive through offering,  and or some kind of takeout service. Where this is really probably more impactful is the independent restaurants,  both their food but also packaging their method of handling it is probably not geared towards that. So, they've really had to make a seismic shift, and they're learning as they go and certainly will be something they'll have to continue to expand on to stay relevant. Especially concerning the fact that most restaurants, the indications  are going to have to practice social distancing within the dining space. So that means reduced seats, so to pick up that additional revenue that they're losing, they need to grow their takeout and their curbside pickup type business. And that's evolving. We're seeing it from the manufacturing side where they're pushing out new products to support that. There's a lot of to-go equipment and new things that are coming online to improve the quality of the products. So that is a very accelerated growth area for us to support. And for restaurants to be able to adapt to.

Yeah, it almost has to be, but you bring up a good point. You'd mentioned the packaging solutions. A lot of these chains have been doing delivery, offering  delivery services, like Uber Eats, Grub Hub, things like that. They're used to managing and working with these different packaging solutions. But I mean, as I was preparing for this podcast and I was doing some research on the different types of packaging that's available, obviously Styrofoam has been around for a long time and it's kind of like the go-to option or choice for a lot of restaurants regardless of type either chains or family style restaurants. But there are a lot of different options out there. And I'm wondering if you've been seeing anything new that's been popping up. Any maybe switching from Styrofoam to more eco-friendly which is a hot topic that continues to be an issue. What have you been seeing on your end in terms of these packaging solutions? Are they evolving along with restaurants transitioning more to a pick-up and delivery type of business model?

Jason: As we said before, all this stuff is going to be accelerated. It's had a slow growth rate for everybody, but this is now an instantaneous transition that everybody needs to adapt to. Over time there's been some very direct transitions into eco-friendly products for sure. Everybody's trying to do a better job with that. The biggest thing is trying to get that same experience that you would have sitting in the restaurant and eating the product versus sitting at home. So that time gap between when they boxed up the food, it went to whoever, whoever's delivering it or you just picking it up and then you, actually sitting down and opening it up and eating. It could be from five minutes to 30 minutes and you want that experience to be the same. And so there's a lot of products that help with that on the packaging side, but also there's other products that help support food as far as heating and cooling to make sure the product in transit is kept at the proper quality.

Salad Bar Quote

The other thing we're also seeing is the security measures tied to it. So as we do more and more delivery through third party companies, or even if the, if the facility has their own delivery service customers and consumers want to make sure that the product is coming untampered, it’s not been opened it's not been touched,  that they feel safe to be consuming that product once they get home. So there are more products coming on board, that they call more in the security area to make sure you have tamper resistant type packaging. So the consumer feels comfortable with the product once it's home that they know it's safe to eat and consume.

Avoiding tampering, avoiding contamination, keeping hot foods hot, cold foods cold. I mean it's almost like a science with the amount of options that are available right now. And that's a good point about just getting from point A to point B. It could be, you a five- minute journey or it could be a 35-minute journey, how that food is delivered is going to reflect, not only the delivery service, but also directly on that restaurant. That's almost like a branding issue and customer retention. If they're being delivered a poor-quality meal that's going to reflect poorly on them, even in these difficult times where people hopefully are being a little more open to these issues and a little bit of flexibility. That does reflect overall on that restaurants quality of business that they're providing their customers.

Jason: Oh, for sure. Absolutely.

Something else that I came across and I know that this is fairly new as far as I know. And I'm wondering if this idea of ghost kitchens is going to continue to gain traction and, and correct me if I'm wrong, but the way I understand it goes kitchen is it's essentially a, I don't know if it would be a restaurant that's, that's already in business,  there's no dining room area. It's just essentially a kitchen that relies exclusively on delivery. Is this something that you've been seeing more of? Do you think this is a trend that's going to continue to take off based on current issues?

Jason: Yeah, that's a great subject. Ghost kitchens are certainly among the latest trends that we've seen over the last year with the evolution and growth and the strategy around ghost kitchens.

So, it is still fairly new?

Jason:  It is still fairly new. I mean they've slowly continued to pick up, more people investing in them. There's certain companies that are opening these ghost kitchens and call them in essence, pods in some areas where they have multiple kitchens in old warehouses or something. We've seen more and more of that growth. So, ghost kitchens kinda serve multiple purposes depending on what kind of restaurant it is. An independent versus a chain restaurant, a chain restaurant or multi-unit restaurant might see this as an opportunity to grow in the urban area for delivery for high density areas where they can serve it out of a kitchen where most people don't really want to come in and consume the product anyway. So, there's no need to have that street front, higher rent leased payment, and having the ability for customers to walk in, because their business is delivery anyway. So, they might build one in an area that's really highly concentrated and be able to serve the customers for delivery through a ghost kitchen.

As we talked about before, there was a big growth in delivery takeout already and now obviously it's going to accelerate that people in restaurants were realizing that they needed to remove that aspect out of their business because it was kind of bottle-necking the kitchen to be able to serve the customers that are in there, eating inside. So, they wanted to move that outside their operation so they can push that for delivery and take-out somewhere else and it's less distractive to that kitchen. So it's kind of twofold.

I just sat on a podcast last week,  listened to some input on ghost kitchens. Given the fact that a lot of restaurants are actually gonna have a decrease in the amount of people, consumers in their restaurants with social distancing. Say they have a hundred seat capacity restaurant, they might be required to go to 50 now. Now that kitchen is not taxed as much and maybe there is ability to actually just maintain that to-go and take out in that existing space. Time will tell what will happen. We could see the flip side of it where ghost kitchens become the norm, where people just don't want to open restaurants anymore with seating cause they know it's, they're not getting the ROI anymore and they're much better off just creating this very good product that can be delivered in an outside kitchen, lower rent, lower overhead. So, time will tell we're kind of split between the two right now. Again, a key indicator is as we start to see these States open, we start to see new regulations adapted. How all things take hold will define what kitchens, and what ghost kitchens look like in the future.

Are you seeing any of the ghost kitchens primarily utilizing delivery or are you seeing ghost kitchens that are also offering like a curbside pickup?

Jason: Most of the ones I've heard of, that I've seen are delivery, delivery only. They've kind of refrained from that. I think there's a kind of a blurring of the line. Sometimes people might call themselves a ghost kitchen, but a customer or consumer can actually come in to pick up. That's probably not what the ghost kitchen really is. The ghost kitchen really isn't a kitchen that as, as the name says, ghost kitchen where they don't know where it is necessarily except for a person who picks it up, which would be one of the delivery companies would come and pick up the product and then bring it to the consumer. Typically, the consumer does not frequent a ghost kitchen or even know where it's coming from.

Yeah, it's very secret. What about the idea of, let's say you're a small restaurant owner or you're trying to get into the business and you look at ghost kitchens. Are you hearing about maybe multiple people sharing that space or in doing so, like maybe, if you and I were sharing a ghost kitchen, we're both chefs and maybe I was there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You were there on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Are you hearing about that just to kind of help offset the cost of what a ghost kitchen cost to keep up and running?

Jason: Yeah. I mean, as this work is starting to come on board and grow, there were certain areas where they would have people come in and use them multiple days and they'd lease out the same space in essence. We've also seen ghost kitchens on their own. One independent ghost kitchen supporting just one brand or customer. And then the third one we've heard about is actually multiple, banks of them, we worked on one that had multiple, kitchen pods I would say. And each space was leased. That operator was able to choose what products they wanted to support their menu. So it's just like a hallway of kitchens so they can be from an individual to multiple.

Okay. Interesting. Yeah, I mean it says it's a good option at this point too.

Jason: It’ll be interesting to see how that trend, where that trend takes us, going forward.

Okay. Well, talking about moving forward. We took a look at a lot of the things that were current, right, even though ghost kitchens are still fairly new. Let's kind of transition the conversation to now what you've been seeing and hearing and reading about you and your team have seen for new trends. As States start to open back up, as restaurants and bars and craft breweries  start to open back up, the first thing that immediately comes to a lot of people's mind is, you know, sit down and dining, right? So, we just got done talking about restaurants that pivoted from dining to curbside pickup and delivery.

Now when restaurants are back open for business. How are you thinking that's going to be received? I was on a webinar earlier in the week and that was one of the things that they talked about. And they put up a lot of statistics throughout the webinar. And one of the statistics was about, I think they took a poll of customers and it was, what their comfort level is from the first week to the second week to like, the first and second month about wanting to, or being comfortable going back to their, their favorite local restaurant and actually dining in. And obviously over time those numbers increase. But like those first couple of weeks it was still very low because people were still very concerned and cautious and they didn't want to continue to be safe about things. But what have you and your team been hearing about that as dining rooms start to open back up? What's going to be some of those issues?

Jason: I mean you can almost put a political spin to things obviously, and I don't want to get into that, but, there are certain people that have taken the measure that hey, let's move right back into being very cautious and let's wait until we have covid-19 fully vetted and understood and know what the complete impact is. Then there's people in between. Obviously the impact to the economy has been tremendous to the food service sector has been tremendous and there is a necessity and need to continue to move towards opening these restaurants back up. As we talked about earlier, these young, these early adapter States such as Texas and Georgia and Tennessee will kind of be key indicators of how we move forward with that. There's going to be a reluctance for people to reenter these restaurants and sit down right next to someone and have a meal, until there's some, reassurance that they won't get sick.

The hardest thing we're trying to figure out right now, and I'm sure all the operators are too, is what is the right way to do it. There are a lot of articles, there is a lot of speculation out there, a lot of guidance that's been given, but really nothing has been completely defined and it's going to be state by state and it could be city by city as it's defined over time what that impact will be. I think coming out of the gate, we've heard it already, we've seen it over and over and I believe even in Asia where they've actually removed tables, they're doing social distancing, at the restaurant level where every other booth or every other seat is taken to maintain that six feet of the distance. Consumers need to feel safe. The requirement for masks to be worn by both , the staff and possibly even, the consumer’s actually eating the product, but there be some safety measures in there that they feel comfortable sitting down again. It's gonna take some time to get back to that.

 It'll be real interesting to see. I mean going back to your favorite restaurant  I'll go back to the example I used earlier about Mother's Day that's coming up and I think of how many times I've been to a restaurant on Mother's Day or a brunch and it is just packed, wall to wall with people. I don't know if we're going to see anything like that anytime soon again. I'm curious,  you've kind of hinted that the fact of table space and you know, maybe it was a smaller family run restaurant that had 20 tables in it. Are they just gonna cut that in half right off the bat? Are they're gonna limit the number of seating and how are they going to do that? I think you can do that just by kind of rearranging things? Are they going to have a sign posted on the door? How are they going to handle, you know, maybe reservations that's going to be such an interesting landscape to kind of weed through as things start to open back up.

Jason:Yeah. And they're going to be required to actually physically move the tables and chairs do they just need to practice on their own? Again, those are going to be all things that are gonna be managed and regulated locally. Each state, city municipality will have to manage that. Each will differ and we'll have to adapt to it and it'll be something that we'll have to get used to. And the good thing is I think we're all conditioned to it now, so it shouldn't be an inconvenience from the consumer standpoint. I’m more concerned about the independent restaurant or the actual owner who now has an ROI on this restaurant. Their dream that they've always had in opening was based on this seats and this many turns and now they’re not able to do that anymore.

Right. Yeah. It’s such a tough situation for them to be. I know we talked a little bit earlier in the conversation about food safety. Now more than ever, I think that's going to continue to be a concern whether they're dining in or even, continuing with takeout and pickup. The idea of food safety in general, are you and your team are you seeing things that this can be a higher level of standard across the board? Are there going to be more checks and balances to make restaurant customers feel safer overall? What, what are you thinking that's going to look like?

Jason: Yeah, I mean across the country we've seen very high standards for as it relates to food safety and, the local health departments and such that do inspections. There's things that we hear such as ServSafe and HASOP and food safety are all buzzwords that they're been around forever. I just have a feeling that these things are going to be reinforced and kind of tweaked. In other words, we have standards set in place that if there were followed, we should be pretty safe. Those standards are prided to be tweaked in relevance to social distancing. Things like that that will have to be implemented in these procedures. Some of these are actually tested procedures that you had to go in and take a test for and there might be a higher level certification that takes place, but going forward and there'll be a, a severe microscope on the increased sanitation, food safety, moving forward, time temperature testing, making sure you have data logs of your HASOP guidelines within your restaurant. Keeping track of when you actually clean things, including the restrooms to the kitchens, to the dining room to everything in between. There's just going to be more, checkoffs along the way, to ensure that those things are all being done on a routine basis.

Well, and you'd mentioned health inspections. Do you think that we're going to see an increase in the number of inspections that are required on an annual basis?

Jason: Potentially. Really that'd be speculation, but whether there's going to be an increased amount of them, but more importantly, what they actually are looking for now I would anticipate will change. The scrutiny and maybe looking the other way, I don't want to say they're doing that, but the things that maybe weren't as critical in the past might now become more critical. So time will tell as those start to be developed.

When this whole thing kind of kicked off a few months ago, the coronavirus and the drastic changes, the term PPE, probably not too many people heard of that and now it's, it's on the lips and minds of everyone all day long. What are you thinking that's going to look like,  with these restaurants and these dining rooms? I would imagine there's going to be a lot more wearing of gloves. I'm actually seeing things, simple things that we're so used to, having salt and pepper shakers on the table that they might be replaced with requested packets. Having hand sanitizers at every table bringing out not only the food to the customer, but the silverware or the dishware actually wrapped up so that they can open it up right then and there. So, they know that it's been sanitized. I mean, that you could go down this rabbit hole and it could get super crazy really quick.

Jason: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And we're seeing that. Just the speculation, like you said, ketchup, you're gonna have ketchup on the table and we all grabbed and used it. Things you never thought of in the past. I never second guessed the fact of using it. You know, PPE again, just so everybody knows, personal protective equipment is the actual definition for that. PPE’s is just becoming a very broad area now that is being promoted tremendously and supportive by efforts to protect people and consumers. There's just enhanced safety measures and protocols that are just being implemented left and right. So it's still yet to be defined.

Design focused on Safety Quote

But it's a category that is just growing tremendously. And as you mentioned, this includes,  gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, face shields, head thermometers. We really seen an uptick in head thermometers where it's been required that, employees come into work, they get tested right away to check their temperature. We've seen,  sanitation sprays, we've seen plexiglass shields,  and as you've seen as we, the businesses that have maintained open, from your local hardware store to anywhere else in between that's been open during these times. You've seen, they've installed plexiglass shields. That will also be the case within the food service operations. You're going to see a plexiglass shield being installed. So those are also considered PPE.  Hand washing stations, if you can imagine a college or university who walks in and you have a thousand students coming and have lunch over a two hour period, how are you going to maintain any kind of level of sanitation when all these kids are coming and going? So there's going to be an increased need for hand washing stations, sanitary stations. Again, all this category falls into this PPE and it's an evolving category and certainly a major focus right now.

COVID-19 Essential Products

You mentioned the, the head or the forehead temperature. Have you had that done yet?

Jason: I have not. I've been interested in getting one. But I have seen, we've had a tremendous amount of requests from our customers in finding access to these and we've been able to sell a lot of them because of the need.

Yeah. Gotta love technology.

Jason: Never thought we'd get into that. But yeah, that's something I always thought that was the medical world only.

Not anymore. Lines have been blurred. Something else I saw just in the last week or two is  this idea of sanitary gates and I saw a few pictures of this and what it looks like is it's just like a little area that people are placing at entrances of businesses. I guess it could be restaurants, it could be schools, it could be,  corporate buildings, but it's almost like a like a spray down booth. What are you hearing about that? Is that something that you could potentially see at the front and actually maybe even at the back entrance of a restaurant where they're bringing the food in?

Jason: Well, yeah, I mean, anything's possible. It all comes with a cost unfortunately. These sanitary gates have been something that have been in place, more over in Europe. We've seen them, and they're probably been more used in, specific one-off cases, but they could be something of the norm. You can imagine multiple people walking into a stadium,  or any kind of venue that has a lot of people in and out airports. Just like going through security, there's no reason there couldn't be a more, a smaller version of what these higher volume ones are, that people actually walk through these gates moving forward. So, it's certainly something to watch. There is actually equipment now that is being used for sanitizing products, that manufacturers  are, are building. Sanitary gates, certainly,  along with sanitary equipment, are still going to be a huge growth area as it continues to be defined.

What, what are you seeing or hearing about technology and how that's coming into play? I'm thinking along the lines of in a dining room instead of the waiter or the waitress handing out a paper menu, which is what we've always done, we're used to that. Maybe having more of an electronic way, where they can bring up the menu on their phone,  maybe paying for their meals more electronically than being passed over a paper receipt from a credit card purchase they have to sign. What do you think and how do you think technology is going to continue to continue to play a role in this?

Jason: Technology is going to play a huge role moving forward, as much as we can to be paperless, avoiding transactions and passing product back and forth between each other. That's going to continue to evolve.  I don't have it fully defined yet, but we've seen it with the opening of certain new segments. Let's take golf courses for instance. If you go play at a public golf course now you prepay your round, you don't talk to them and you walk out at your tee time and you play golf. In a way it's something that has always been there. It’s just going to be more accelerated now. We all can pay through our phones, through Apple pay and things like that by just holding up your phone. All those types of things are, are going to evolve and actually be what is normal versus an option in the past. So you certainly will see that continue to grow.

Yeah, it'll definitely be more convenient. To have that option. It's implementing it in areas that maybe no one had thought of before. Okay, so the last thing I wanted to talk to you about, and this is kind of your specialty here, but just the idea of new kitchen and dining room designs, remodels, again, this could be at a school, it could be in a senior living facility, it could be, mom and pop restaurant. What are you thinking you are going to see more of maybe less of, I mean with the idea of dining rooms and not allowing or having that many people in at a time, are you thinking that dining room space for like a new, or I guess it could be every remodel that that space is going to be reduced, whereas maybe the kitchen would be increased that size, so to allow for more distancing. What are you guys seeing on your end? How is that going to change for customer and for how we do business?

Jason: One of the things coming right out of the gate here is that we tend to do a lot of design around is the number of seats. I think our design moving forward is going to be more around safety and health measurements and criteria versus just number of seats. That's going to be the basis for it moving forward. We do anticipate kitchens will be more spacious, more spread out and that there'll be more sanitation stations. They'll be implemented, as a number of seats are probably reduced. That's more on the restaurant side. But even think about, we talked before bout the grab and go idea, the self-serve idea. We do a lot of stadium designs, we do school designs, we do independent restaurants and everything in between that self-serve idea is just going to just take off even more.

More and more consumers as we all do, we all want to get things quicker, to get through quicker. We’re impatient,  we want to move through quickly, the operators also want to get people through quicker, and grab and go and prepackage and all those things, as they have been growing and will continue to grow exponentially,  and be the kind of the wave of the future. Yet to be defined completely on the impact of design. We're trying to stay ahead of it. And the interesting thing is we go back to salad bars. Every institutional cafeteria tends to have a salad bar in it. And so what does this big piece of  equipment in the middle of a dining area or a serving area, how are they going to handle it moving forward and existing designs we have in place as we start to come out of this thing where we're going to see some tweaks along the way of existing designs that we already have in place, and how we're going to adapt to that moving forward. So we're trying to stay on the leading edge of that and work with consumers, stay ahead of the health departments and the new regulatory things that are forthcoming, so that we can build those into our designs of the future.

Do you think you might see a greater interest with restaurants for drive-thru? And again, I'm not thinking of the chains, but I'm thinking of more like the mom and pop,  corner restaurant that we really love to go. Could you see  them putting in an option for a quick drive through, for their customers would just drive up, they place their order, maybe place their order in advance ahead of time, but then they, they pull up and they just kind of get past them through a window. Do you think that's a possibility?

Jason: It certainly is. There is a cost obviously associated with that. There's also a change in the way you prepare your food and hold your food and things like that, that the multi-unit restaurants have, you know, fine-tuned over years and years of practice. Many of the independents might not have the equipment to do that today. How they prepare their food, how they store their food, how they hold their food, so they're adapting to that. So they might add those things to their kitchen. I think the bigger change over time will still be the to-go curbside pickup. Yeah. I think that's probably a better avenue, a lower cost entry where almost manning a station outside where product is brought out right to the car and the consumer drives up, grabs it and they leave. That goes back to what we also talked about and, transactions that are prepaid where there's no paper receipts or anything else that's needed and anymore that, will really the focus will be on the grab and go. Curbside pickup, will continue to grow.

Yeah. So many things to think about. Amazing how many things and how quickly things have changed in such a short amount of time and how we're still just at the very beginning of it.

Jason: I mean, a lot of this is speculation. Some of it. I really do think within the next week to two weeks we're going to see some new standards really being introduced, promoted. Certainly will be based on the success of these early adapters, these early States who are opening, if they have success in certain areas, doing certain things that will help the later opening States to adapt to those and be able to adjust. So as we always say right now, this is a very fluid situation. We're all praying and hoping that we can get through this very quickly.

Yeah. Fingers crossed for the best. Okay, so Jason, is there anything else you wanted to bring up that we didn't, we didn't touch on today? I know we covered a lot of different topics, but is there anything out there, the outline that maybe you think is really important that we should, we should mention?

Jason: This is an evolving space right now and  as I've mentioned at the beginning and throughout this as a changing is changes every day. Again we pray and hope for all of our friends in the food service space, the independent restaurants and everybody else, that we go out and support them in these tough times. We look forward to getting on the other side with everybody and uh, just wish everybody to be safe and healthy.

Couldn't agree more. Thanks again for talking with me today, Jason. Before we wrap things up, can you tell our listeners how they can reach out to you directly if they have additional questions? If they want to schedule a design consultation, anything like that, what's the best way they can reach out to you?

Jason: Yeah, probably email would be the best, unfortunately, a long name. You’ll probably see it in the podcast when it’s promoted, but it's jprondzinski@boelter.com and I look forward to hearing from anybody.

Thanks again. So, and as a reminder, you can connect with us by visiting boelter.com, you can reach out to us on LinkedIn. We're on Instagram and on Facebook. Feel free to share this episode and you know, don't hesitate to reach out to us. If there's any other topics that you want us to talk about, you can send your comments or questions to marketing@boelter.com and once again, thanks for listening.


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