Multitasking Foodservice Equipment

Today’s restaurant DREAM kitchen: What’s inside?

As menu trends evolve, your operations follow.

Operators anticipate boosting their foodservice equipment and supplies budgets this year, according to the 2016 Commercial Foodservice Market Forecast Report by the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry (MAFSI). Twenty-five percent of operators expect to increase budgets and 62 percent of operators plan to remain consistent – a 20 percent jump from 2015.

So what’s in today’s restaurant dream kitchen? For starters, primary cooking equipment and refrigeration – those are the categories in which 54 percent of operators say they’ll invest. But what specific trends are influencing equipment and supplies purchases? Here’s what we’re seeing.


Customers crave change

Consumer demand for more variety in terms of flavor and preparation continues to rise. According to NAFEM’s 2014 State of the Industry Report, 52 percent of consumers say they like spicy foods, and the smoky flavor trend is also gaining ground. Meanwhile, Asian concepts have seen the biggest recent growth, indicating the desire for new global cuisines.

What’s more, the majority of consumers surveyed say customization is appealing. In fact, consumers expect to be able to customize their order at the point-of-purchase – building their own burritos, burgers, salads and more.

What’s in the dream kitchen:

Equipment that opens the door to customization, new flavors and automation

  • Equipment that enables global flavor trends (vertical spits, smokers, woks and tortilla presses)
  • Equipment that enhances customization (hot and cold merchandisers, prep tables and under-counter refrigeration)


Space (and energy) savings rule

Thirty-one percent of operators surveyed in the MAFSI report listed energy efficiency as a deciding factor in their 2016 purchase plans. Oftentimes, space savings are a happy side effect.

Today’s equipment and supplies manufacturers are looking for ways to downsize and add efficiencies in their designs.

What’s in the dream kitchen:

Smaller, more energy-efficient equipment

  • Small but mighty equipment (efficient pressure cookers that allow for an increase in volume without putting a strain on space)
  • Quick-cooking ovens without hoods; ovens with catalytic converters that work well with accessories like presses and stones (capitalizing on artisanal panini and pizza trends)
  • Combi ovens for space savings and consistency
  • Induction technology for clean, energy-efficient cooking that enables a variety of tasks – from boiling water in minutes to lightly melting chocolate


Transparency is a must

Fast-casual consumers expect to see transparency, with 53 percent saying they’d like restaurants to be “more transparent about what’s in their menu items,” according to the MAFSI report.

Of fast-casual fares, build-your-own restaurant formats featuring visible prep lines are eclipsing overall industry growth. Build-your-own setups featuring premium ingredients logged an 8.5 percent sale gain in 2014, the highest of any segment according to the MAFSI report. Technomic reported record growth for fast-casuals in the top 500 restaurant chains in its 2016 trends report – with restaurants with visual prep lines seeing a 23 percent increase in sales in 2014, versus just 13 percent growth for non-visual fast-casuals.

Sustainability is also key. Thirty-seven percent of consumers are calling for more “sustainable” seafood, according to Technomic. Another example: 70 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase foods or beverages listed as GMO-free; 34 percent are willing to pay more for GMO-free items; and 29 percent believe GMO-free items taste better, according to Technomic. This trend goes beyond food – consumers expect social responsibility in all aspects of operation. 

What’s in the dream kitchen:

Visible prep tools; socially responsible equipment

  • Eco-friendly equipment (energy-saving equipment, recycling sink disposers that do a better job of digesting food waste)
  • Layouts and aesthetically appealing equipment that enables visible prep and cooking
  • Recycled and biodegradable supplies (disposable utensils and servingware)


Fresh is best

Nearly 65 percent of consumers are looking for restaurants that offer healthy, tasty food, according to NAFEM’s 2014 State of the Industry report. Restaurateurs are satiating the desire by upping the fresh factor – either actually or though appearance. “Perceived freshness,” according to Technomic, is just as important as “true freshness.”

What’s in the dream kitchen:

Equipment that enables freshness and healthier preparations

  • Baking and steaming equipment
  • Display/holding equipment that boosts the freshness (or the perception of freshness)
  • More refrigeration, fewer freezers

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