Do you love coffee? Do you love Starbucks? Do you love breathtaking buildings in beautiful cities? Do you love restaurants? My answer is yes to all of the above. If your answer to these questions is also yes, then you must reserve time for the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Starbucks Reserves is a destination spot for Starbucks lovers. Since my first visit to Chicago back in 2007, I have always been in awe of the city’s planning, design, skyscrapers, bodies of water, locations and of course, the restaurants. I am a foodie, as well as a lover of buildings and coffee so I felt a sense of kinship with the city. I now visit Chicago often – mainly for business though I try to add in a little fun. I have desired to visit Chicago Starbucks Reserves Roastery since I heard of its planning and building. During the spring of 2021, I finally had my opportunity. As the Foodie Builder, I enjoy taking time out to visit restaurants and other food facilities for inspiration, to learn about trends and for my own enjoyment. I take time out to immerse myself in the industry so that I can continue to learn and grow and help people plan and build better food facilities. I made it my priority to reserve time to explore the Starbucks Reserves Roastery in Chicago. My visit to the reserves was filled with inspiration. The Chicago Reserves is located on Michigan Avenue, in the heart of Chicago’s downtown. The building is a five-story feast for your eyes located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and it is outfitted with a gift shop, coffee shop, restaurant, and bar on located on their individual floors. The shop is in a location that was once a Crate and Barrel store, now remodeled to house the restaurant and its amenities. When the roastery opened in the fall of 2019 it was already on my list of locations to visit. I planned to go early in 2020 and had my plane ticket purchased and hotel reservation made, I was ready for my adventure. Unfortunately, my trip was scheduled the same weekend that the Pandemic lockdown started. it was much more than my expectations. I took time to enjoy a cup of coffee, take in the beautiful artwork clothing the walls while learning about coffee from all over the world. I stayed long enough to enjoy a tasty sandwich, much different from the pre-packaged sandwiches in typical Starbucks. The majority of the coffee and food in the Reserve are different than that in most Starbucks. Initially, I was disappointed that I could not get my regular Tall Pike Place but after I ordered my first cup of coffee, I forgot all about what I was missing. The décor incorporates brewery fixtures into the overall theme while some of the walls are decorated with packaging from coffees and teas from different parts of the world. The space houses a toasty fireplace, adding warmth to the space that is surrounded by glass. At night the beautiful glass surrounded structures glows as it is lit from within. The structure invites anyone, not just building and coffee lovers to reserve time to make a visit.
The Back of House is the most important area in a restaurant. This area includes the kitchen, the office, storage areas, and the employee lounge. Most people don’t consider the Back of House to be important because all the glamour is dedicated to the Front of House, but it’s the area where most of the action takes place. The Front of House attracts and entertains the customers, but the Back of House provides them with everything they need. Although the Back of House is arguably the lifeline of the restaurant, it is often the forgotten area. Most people, including potential restaurant owners, often don’t consider what’s in back. Even customers don’t give much thought to what’s in the back unless their food order is late, incorrect, or unacceptable.
Recently, the Back of House has made itself more relevant with the popularity of Food Halls, Ghost Kitchens and Open Kitchens. Ghost Kitchens are “kitchen only” restaurants that serve third party delivery or takeout only services. Restaurants with Open Kitchens incorporate the kitchen from the Back of House into the Front of House Design, allowing customers to experience some or all the food preparation and the cooking. Some restaurants incorporate the Back of House into their services by offering Kitchen tours and Back of House seating. On occasion, while dining out I have asked to tour the kitchen and I always enjoy the opportunity to see a working kitchen. When planning your restaurant, bar, or café, always consider what’s in the back. My advice is to consider your menu first as you plan the design of your space. Always keep in mind:
Your menu will determine the equipment required and the required equipment will determine the layout and size of your kitchen.
Your equipment can also determine where the kitchen will be located in your space.
Considerations must be given to the hood location and its proximity to the back wall, upper floors, and roof.
Also keep in mind items that require drainage and water supply such as: ice machines, sinks, etc.
As you plan what’s in the back, consider the opportunity to make your restaurant more environmentally sound. The equipment and materials can be green, sustainable or renewable materials that are safe for the environment and do not affect your carbon footprint. Eco friendly options are always available for drywall, paint, wall tiles, countertop materials and flooring. Energy efficient equipment also offers opportunities to help restaurants have greener operations. What’s in the back of your restaurant will ultimately affect what’s out front. A well-planned kitchen, comfortable space for employees to rest and store their personal items, and an area for professional operations can be very important to what’s in back.
Our news is dominated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the impact on the food-service and restaurant industry has been catastrophic, moments of light are emerging in the midst of this struggle. As a restaurateur or food business owner, one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is, “What can I possibly do NOW to ensure that my business makes it to the other side of this crisis?” With so much more free time, I have spent more hours than usual reviewing and discussing food safety, strategic planning & restaurant technology with industry professionals, and I’ve been able to break down practical guidance into three categories: 1. Infrastructure - When the dust settles, the businesses who will survive this crisis will be the ones who already had, or were able to quickly pivot to put infrastructure in place. Regardless of your size or menu concept, you will need to prepare to implement many of the concepts successfully executed by our favorite QSR leaders. The list of “22 Online Ordering Statistics Every Restauranteur Should Know in 2020” presents a compelling look at the fact that online ordering is no longer optional for restaurants who want to survive, and that was BEFORE the pandemic. If you didn’t already have relationships with 3rd party delivery services (i.e. Caviar, DoorDash, or Mercato), or have a digital ordering, delivery, kiosk and POS solution in place that also accepts contact-less payments (i.e. Toast integrated with industry leader Olo), now is the time to determine which options are best for you.
2. Food SafetyFood - Safety is presumed to be one of the cornerstones of food service, yet (based on publicly available information from local Health Departments) it has been more of an afterthought in too many operations. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought food safety and public health into the spotlight like never before. To inspire confidence in the minds of your customers, BOH, FOH, and Back-Office staff, be sure your updated Food Safety Management Systemincorporates Best Practices from the FDA (as of 4/13/20), as well as EPA-registered disinfectants, with exceptional transparency in your employee policies and consumer marketing. Now is also the time to look critically at your pest control provider, as integrated pest management is an essential part of your HACCP Plan. With their team of Board-Certified entomologists, Western is particularly well-positioned as one of the most knowledgeable food-service partners in the industry. Tracking each element of your daily food safety practices is something that will need to occur every day, during every shift. To make the process easier, you will likely want to incorporate an operations execution solution such as JOLT, Zenput, or Rizepoint to standardize team accountability and food safety compliance throughout your operation.
3. Strategic Planning - For all the times you may have said “I don’t have TIME for that...” in the past, now is the time to focus on strategic planning. With leading scientific,technical and economic sources projecting the pandemic to last for at least 18 months, businesses need to prepare for multiple phases of operational interruptions. The best thing we can do now is to make sure we are more prepared tomorrow than we were yesterday. Maintain Social Distancing Protocols – Think about how you could either reconfigure your dining space or otherwise ensure that guests are seated at tables that are at least 6 feet apart. Although it may have seemed laughably futuristic just a year ago, examine whether a “collaborative robotics solution” might be right for your business in this age of heightened food safety and social distancing. If you (like I did as a child) ever wished for “The Jetsons” to come to life, this concept is guaranteed to delight and intrigue you.
Simplify Your Menu – With online & delivery firmly incorporated as part of your business model, you may want to re-think plate presentation in terms of which menu items will “travel well”, and which will translate into “family meals”. Inventory Planning – A simpler menu will undoubtedly make food costing and inventory planning easier. The next step will require critical thinking about your non-food inventory; Not only takeout containers, carry-out bags, but tamper-proof packaging and pre-wrapped cutlery kits (which may also be used in your dining room). Menu Costing – Implementing any or all of these changes will require re-calculating your recipe & menu costs. This is one of the many advantages of having an industry-leading restaurant management platform such as XtraChef as part of your infrastructure.
When your customers return (and they will), you’ll be very glad you took this time to plan for more thoughtful, safe, and efficient operations. Your staff will be more engaged, your customers will thank you with repeat business, and you’ll have higher confidence in your plans to satisfy their collective needs for comfort, career ambitions, culinary adventures, and celebrations for years to come. Finally, reach out to me if you would like help with strategic planning, if you need to update your FSMS, or if you need further analysis to determine the best technology solutions for your business.
Yolanda Lockhart-Davis is a Professional Chef, Food Service Consultant & Thought Leader in Food Safety, Strategic Planning, and Restaurant Technology.
It is amazing how people come together during a global crisis and share ideas that can make a difference in their work. Around the second or third week of my state’s “Stay-At-Home” order, I began increasing interactions with colleagues via Instagram and Zoom. Through shared ideas with contractors and food-service consultants, I learned about some amazing products that will make a big difference in what I call “The Post Covid 19 Commercial Kitchen.” Collaborations like these can create positive outcomes as a result of this Pandemic, make a difference in one’s knowledge of products, and enhance services being offered.
As an Architectural Design Professional who specializes in designing the “Back Of House” in restaurants, I understand why commercial kitchens have specific requirements for surfaces and equipment. When local health departments require a “Wipe-able Wall Surface” or “Cove Molding” at the base of the walls and the meetings of finished floor surfaces, they do so to ensure that dirt and germs can be cleaned away easily and that pests cannot move freely through openings. When local health departments require that a “cleanable tile or ceiling surface” be specified in all areas where food is present, it is because doing so will make it easier to operate a cleaner kitchen. The main purpose of following these requirements is to ensure that surfaces can be properly cleaned and maintained, thereby reducing the possibility of germs and contaminants.
A clean kitchen is a safe kitchen, but we can make kitchens safer by moving beyond sanitary measures. They can be safer by making them Greener! Greener with the use of Eco-friendly materials, equipment, and practices. Energy-efficient equipment such as refrigeration, freezers, and cooking equipment are a Green Alternative. Another Greener method is to add Water Saving and Energy Efficient Equipment in the Ware-washing, Utility, and Hand & Prep Sink areas. Counter materials such as quartz are not only germ-resistant, they are also Eco-friendly. Lastly, there are many non-toxic commercial cleaning products that can be used as an alternative to traditional cleaning chemicals. Many environmentally friendly options can be implemented to create a more sustainable and safer commercial kitchen. Contact the Green Restaurant Association or your Design Professional for additional options.
Personally, I am a germaphobe and I believe that many other people have or will also become germaphobes after experiencing this Covid 19 outbreak. We will expect our restaurants to respond in the aftermath of this global crisis with even cleaner and more sanitary Food Preparation areas. I have gathered a list of products and materials that can be specifically used in environments where food is being prepared for public consumption. Using these materials and following the required procedures that are already in place will help produce safer and cleaner “Post Covid 19 Commercial Kitchens.”
Design Solutions For The "Post-Covid 19" Commercial Kitchen
BACK OF HOUSE Walls and Ceilings: Paint: Recently, I spoke with a painter from Horizon Pro Painters, LLC regarding a paint that kills 99.9% of bacteria & viruses. The company uses the germ killing paint in hospitals, senior care facilities, dental offices and day cares. The paint can also be used in commercial kitchens, along with other applications. The paint is available in a wipe-able finish, ideal for commercial kitchens. Additional paint Information: https://www.caliwel.com/ This brand includes products that are: -Antimicrobial -Mold Resistant -Germ Resistant Gypsum Wall Board (“Drywall”): For Ceilings and Walls, there is an application that resists mold and cleans the air. “AirRenew® and M2TECH® not only cleans the air by reducing formaldehyde but also provides enhanced moisture and mold resistance.” The Gypsum Wall Board is also available in "Type X" fire rated for interior walls and ceilings in commercial applications that require specific fire rated assemblies. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YVUlm3RG_s Ceiling Tiles: Local health departments require ceiling tiles that are cleanable and smooth, however, you can step that requirement up by using a tile that is mold, mildew and bacteria resistant. https://www.newceilingtiles.com/ Wall Tiles: Kitchens typically require a cleanable, wipe-able surface for the walls and often tiles are used in these areas. In my research I found ceramic tiles that utilize the application of micrometric particles of titanium dioxideclean to clean the air and resist bacteria. https://www.irisceramica.com/active Tile Grout: Look for sealants to help prevent the growth mold and mildew from growing on grout surfaces. Choose sealants that contain Microban®, an antimicrobial product built into some grout sealants. https://www.microban.com/custom-building-products
Flooring: Commercial Grade Linoleum: Commercial grade linoleum is safer and more hygienic than other flooring for many reasons. It can be applied seamlessly and it is durable, and does not emit harmful chemicals. Hospitals, an environment that is required to be more sanitary than most commercial locations, often choose linoleum as a safer, cleaner option. The flooring material is also considered a greener option because it is made from natural materials including linseed oil, tree resins. https://www.spectracf.com/commercial-linoleum-flooring/ Ceramic Tile: If you prefer ceramic tiles for your kitchen flooring, try anti-pollutant, antibacterial technical ceramic tiles. Tile grout that resists mold and mildew is another option for commercial kitchen flooring.
FRONT OF HOUSE Point Of Service (POS) Systems: To cut down on the spread of bacteria and germs, POS systems are available at “medical grade”, made with antimicrobial coatings. The materials of some machines are made strong enough to be easily wiped clean with disinfectants. http://https//tangent.com/blog/antimicrobial-pos-systems-are-ideal-for-restaurants/ Counters: Counters composed of over 90% quartz in a non-porous resin, is basically maintenance free and the material can fight the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew, providing a safer counter surface. Quartz counters are a sustainable choice because they are made mostly from natural materials and are long lasting and recyclable.
Other options for a cleaner and greener food facility can include germ resistant furniture for your front of house seating area and a more efficient heating system and filters for trapping airborne particles. Many options exist to help you design, plan and build a safer and cleaner commercial kitchen and restaurant. However, safer food handling practices and more attention to cleaning detail will ultimately allow for a safer "Post-Covid 19" kitchen and restaurant.
For additional information on planning and designing a "Post Covid" Commercial Food Facility, contact Felicia Middleton, the Foodie Builder at 267.702.0810 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Felicia is a Food Facility Designer and owner of Urban Aesthetics. Felicia has also authored A Complete Guide To Creating Tasty Spaces, a workbook to help you plan and build your food facility.
I am often asked to provide extensive information about building safety, but when it comes to the need for designing and planning Food Service Facilities, food safety is often put on the back burner. For years I have understood the needs and requirements for qualified Food Service Facilities and more recently I’ve learned even more about the legalities of the Food Handling process. As a result, I’ve become cautious of the hands that feed me and after reading this article you will too. My training and experience in designing and planning both Residential and Commercial Kitchens taught me that running a Commercial Kitchen is an entirely different animal than running a residential kitchen. Commercial kitchens are typically designed for the preparation of large quantities of food prepared by multiple people. Commercial kitchens are designed to accommodate the various functions of food prep – to ensure that food is stored at the proper temperatures, to eliminate cross contamination of food, and to ensure the convenience of hygienic activities such as hand washing, dish and utensil washing and also overall cleaning. Caterers must prepare food in an approved facility. If they do not have their own facility, they can rent space in one of the local Incubator Kitchens (facilities for caterers that don't have a legal place to prepare food). Some Caterers also rent out church kitchens to prepare their food for events. But whatever the case, you must be aware of the hands that feed you. Let’s say you attend a public event and a caterer is serving food. Do you dig right in or do you inquire about their company, their facilities, and their overall service? As the late President Ronald Reagan once said "Trust, but verify". Verify that all Chefs are ServeSafe Certified (they have been trained about the importance of food handling, food safety, safe preparation, and qualified preparation facilities). Verify that the Caterers have Food Handlers Licenses, Safety Permits and the food was prepared at a licensed facility (or at the very least, they obtained a temporary license to vend at that event). Why is all this necessary? It's necessary because your health and safety is important. This verification process may not equate to a 100% guarantee, but following these steps will provide you with an extra layer of assurance, protection, and safety – food safety. Restaurants, Caterers, and anyone who prepares food for public consumption, must follow these rules. Here are a few suggestions if you’re unsure about a Chef or Caterer's preparation facility:
Ask for their business name.
Ask for their business location.
Ask where their food is prepared.
Ask if they hire certified caterers who prepare food in certified facilities.
Google, Google, Google!
It is not rude to make these inquiries. Remember, your safety is important. As a specialist in Commercial Kitchens, Restaurants, and Food Facility Design and Planning, I am available if you are a Chef or a Caterer looking to open a Restaurant, Cafe or Food Service Facility. Feel free to contact The Foodie Builder at (267)702-0810.
The most exciting time of my career took place throughout the year of 2018. I launched the Foodiebuilder® Brand in January I had the excitement of celebrating my 10th year in business in April and, throughout the year, I worked on eight food facilities located in the Philadelphia Bourse Building. The Philadelphia Bourse is a historical building, built in 1895, located on 5th Street in Philadelphia, between Market and Chestnut Streets. The Bourse, originally a Commodities Exchange, and a beautiful historic structure, was completely renovated to house a new Food Hall, hosting 20+ Restaurants, Cafes and Bars. Since my youth, I have always loved the character, style and architecture of the Bourse, so my excitement was heightened by having the honor of designing several of the interior spaces in the Food Hall, located on the first floor. The first project began for me in the fall of 2017, I began working on Chaat and Chai, an Indian Street Food restaurant. Early in 2018, I had the honor of taking on new projects at the Bourse, including Grub House Philly, Kari's Tea Bar and Bronze Table, an Italian Restaurant. Later in the summer, I added Olive With A Twist and Get Fried Philly; in addition to providing drawings for Permit Services for Barry's Buns and Chocodiem. As I began the transition in the direction of my business, I also had the best opportunities you can ask for: great clients; fun work and good food. The best part of working on the Bourse project was seeing the transition of a building I have loved for decades from design and excavation; all the way to the final finishes and the grand opening.
I had the pleasure of spending a short time this morning talking with Mason Whartman, owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, at the newest location in University City. Rosa’s University City is located at 16 South 40th Street and is bright with lots of natural light and the signature Rosa’s red tile. Talking with Mason is always a pleasure, he is always friendly and accommodating to his customers as well as visitors.
Rosa's University City, Opening Soon.
I often visit buildings that I have had the opportunity to work on, and my first visit to the original Rosa’s, located downtown at 25 S. 11th Street, came in the fall of 2013. Mason, the owner, greeted me with his usual friendly personality as I told him who I was. I became a regular customer, stopping in to eat, donate, say hello to a few of the regular employees. I first became connected with Rosa’s through an architect, named Martin Herbert. We have worked on several projects together including the original Rosa’s as well as Rosa’s University City. The experience was a pleasure and it provided me the opportunity to get to know Mason and expand my philanthropic endeavors.
The original Rosa's Fresh Pizza, located at 25 South 11th Street
Mason Whartman, Felicia Middleton at the original Rosa's Fresh Pizza
My first surprise was the cost and quality of the pizza. It’s difficult to find good pizza less than $2.00 per slice in Philadelphia. The next thing that surprised me was the “Little Rosa's” program, allowing anyone to “pay-it-forward” to help people in need. Mason says that program has expanded to feed approximately 150 to 200 people per day. It's amazing to have that kind of impact on the lives of the community. To date, Rosa’s has provided almost 100,000 meals to the homeless in the Philadelphia community.
Over the years Mason has expanded the program to include resource information for the homeless as well as an online donation membership program. Rosa’s has products including tee shirts, sweatshirts, gloves, hats and “onesies” for babies. Mason recently added touchscreen monitors in the original Rosa’s to help provide smoother ordering and streamline the in-store donating process.
Mason explained that expanding the menu to include of salads offers more options to people who are health conscious or who may want a more well-rounded meal. In addition, you have the option to build your own salad from the ingredients that are available. The menu also includes original salad dressings. Rosa’s University City will offer sandwich options in addition to the original menu.
Mason and I discussed his plans for Rosa’s future and he talked about exploring the options of additional locations and adding features like an app for mobile ordering and donating. I am looking forward to the opening of Rosa’s in University City, scheduled for sometime this week. As usual, I will stop in to donate, eat and plan a future meetup with a few colleagues. Make sure you stop in Rosa’s and enjoy a good meal while donating to help someone less fortunate.
Since starting her company, Felicia has worked on many local restaurants including the following notable restaurants: The Palm; Rosa’s Fresh Pizza (1 and 2); and the Tropical Smoothie Cafe, located on Temple University’s campus. While working there, Felicia developed design and planning skills while learning a new specialty she likes to call FoodieBuilding. She worked on several notable projects including: a commissary kitchen in Vineland, New Jersey; cafeteria food lines for several Vineland schools; and Back of House dish rooms and kitchens for Foxwoods Casino in Rhode Island.
In 2018, Felicia will take her specialization further by offering complete Planning, Design-Build and Project Management Services for a full food facility project. She expanded her team for these services, offering a soup-to-nuts product. To learn more about Felicia Middleton and her Foodie-planning services, call 267.702.0810or email her at the email@example.com.