Designer kitchens

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Keswick Lodge's space-saving kitchen revamp proves it always pays to get the professionals in. Award-winning pub manager Neil Vigerstaff believes...

Keswick Lodge's space-saving kitchen revamp proves it always pays to get the professionals in.

Award-winning pub manager Neil Vigerstaff believes there is one golden rule when it comes to devising a kitchen refurbishment: discuss your plans and requirements in detail with a professional designer and equipment supplier and follow the advice given.

Vigerstaff and pub operator Daniel Thwaites adopted this from day one when a scheme for the installation of a brand new kitchen at the Keswick Lodge, Keswick in Cumbria, first went on to the drawing board.

The term refurbishment, however, does not do the Keswick Lodge project justice, as the everything in the pub's kitchen was replaced with brand new equipment. The £40,000 scheme provided a state-of-the-art facility aimed at servicing a rapidly-expanding food business.

The pub and 20-bedroom hotel is located in the centre of the bustling Lake District town of Keswick where tourism and a well-heeled local population provide plenty of opportunities for a skilled pub operator.

Food trade has grown since Neil and wife Norma took over as managers three years ago, and in 2004 it won Thwaites Catering Pub of the Year award. But as the catering took off it became clear the kitchens could not cope.

"The old kitchen struggled to keep up with demand, particularly at peak times," recalled Thwaites catering development manager Judi Houghton.

"Food was quickly becoming an all-day operation but we did not have the heavy-duty equipment needed to keep pace," she said.

Thwaites engaged the services of a

combined design and supply company to mastermind the project. Paramount to the scheme was equipment that would best utilise the confined space in the kitchen area. The Keswick Lodge is a grade-II listed building and space is at a premium throughout. As much as Vigerstaff would have loved a new chiller room, space limitations meant this had to be sacrificed.

But the new equipment, bigger and far more resourceful than the old units, gave the floorspace that was vital to house its team of chefs and kitchen staff.

The essential equipment installed comprised two twin friers, a large, heavy-duty microwave, a table-top steamer combi oven, a double griddle, a six-burner cooker, two sets of chilled integral preparation tables and a huge fridge-freezer unit.

The new kitchen came on stream in April, in time for the start of the summer tourist season, and its benefits became immediately obvious.

Vigerstaff says: "We serve an average 2,000 meals per week in peak season, but the new kitchen can handle this volume with ease.

"Modern and reliable equipment means our chefs can work with new confidence and after only six months, business has seen a big upturn."

He adds: "This month we are launching

a new fine-dining service but its something we could never have done using the old equipment."

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