It may seem an obvious point to make, but when deciding how much time and money to commit to a kitchen refurb, the first thing publicans have to take a look at how is how much space they have to work with.
It's far better to resolve the question of how much is possible with the available kitchen area early on, rather than wait for problems to arise, says Pete Evans, product development manager for Hobart UK. "Space is often the biggest problem in a pub kitchen but there are clever ways to maximise what's available," he says.
"Firstly I would advise publicans to take a realistic look at the shape and size of their kitchen. Look at which equipment best fits the space and then plan your menu around it. That way you will be serving food that works with your kitchen rather than against it."
One tip is to go for a combination of horizontal and vertical equipment to make the most of the space and make cooking easier. Vertical equipment such as griddles provide a solution at the ideal working height - making cooking faster, safer and easier.
Here are Pete's top tips for an essential pub kit that will save space and give results:
- Griddles are a pub kitchen staple. They are incredibly versatile and can be used to cook everything from steaks to vegetables.
- Combis work well in pubs as they can perform multiple functions that traditionally you would have needed several different pieces of equipment for. They are incredibly versatile, offering a range of healthy cooking options including steaming, grilling, poaching, roasting and regeneration.
- Pressure steamers. These are the new 'must have' item for pub kitchens. They are compact and take up minimal space but at the same time can steam large quantities of food, such as fish, very quickly.
- Microwaves have moved on and there is definitely a place for them in any modern pub kitchen. Programmable models guarantee consistent results. This is crucial in helping build a pub's reputation for food - customers who enjoyed a meal want to know if they order the same thing again it will taste and look the same.
- For pubs with a little more space a six-burner range is the perfect solution. Hobart's Premier Plus 700 range is modular, so it can be arranged as publicans wish - as a run, island suite cantilever or standalone unit. It can also be tailored to suit the pub menu by being customised with griddles, bratt pans, pasta cookers and other speciality kit.
David Riley, commercial director for Hobart UK, says that despite the consumer downturn, pubs should still think seriously about investing in a full kitchen refurb this year:
"A refurb is a great opportunity for publicans to invest in their long term success, but they need to make sure they choose the right equipment to give customers what they want," he says.
"The design of a new kitchen should match the food they want to serve and a pub that's going to be aiming to serve lots of meals will need a really comprehensive range of equipment. "A kitchen refurb is a financial commitment - but if done in the right way it can secure long-term profits for publicans."
One factor often overlooked when considering the investment cost is equipment maintenance - the aim should be to minimise down time, which can lead to lost sales and customer complaints.
David says: "We understand how important it is for a new kitchen to be up and running as quickly as possible and so our dedicated team will make sure that installation is fast and hassle-free.
"In choosing Hobart publicans can be sure that they have invested in the best equipment on the market, but if anything does go wrong our team of 200 expert technicians will be there to help.
"Each member of our rapid response team carries a carefully audited parts inventory based on local service requirements - so we can achieve high levels of first-time fix for our customers.
"There is nothing more frustrating, or costly, than not being able to get hold of help when something breaks down, so we work hard to make sure our central call centre is easily contactable and there to answer our customers' concerns."