Northampton-based kitchen design house ABDA Creative Design & Build was invited to work on a staff dining scheme by one of its long-standing customers, contract caterer Blue Apple, which runs the catering facility in the central London site.
Cabot Financial’s headquarters featured an existing café space which was heavily utilised by the staff on site and therefore was in need of an upgrade. ABDA designed and coordinated the fit-out of a new restaurant kitchen, servery and seating area, with the scope of the project including the strip out of all these spaces and the associated roof plant.
Overseeing the scheme was ABDA project consultant, Claire Smith, who detailed: “The kitchen was fully upgraded with new fabrications, cookline, coldroom and dishwasher. Each element of catering function was separated to improve hygiene and prevent cross contamination. Extra food preparation space was given and the kitchen was extended into an existing first aid room to provide built-in coldroom space. Previously, cold storage was kept in the seating area. In addition, new hygienic wall cladding was installed as well as a complete new ventilation extract system.”
Front of house, the restaurant servery concept was developed through mood boards, visuals and samples to create a warm and vibrant flooring space. The general works included floor and wall finishes to give a contemporary feel and create a warm atmosphere. The main service was split to have assisted and self-service counters to improve the flow of customers through the space. The main assisted service counter is then split for dual flow, allowing hot food to potentially operate separately to the deli and coffee areas during peak times. Said Smith: “The client wanted to increase the food offer and menu, giving the customer more choice, so food display was an important factor when designing the front of house area.”
This meant that whichever display manufacturer was chosen had to cover a wide range of uses with its equipment. Therefore ABDA chose to partner with Cossiga, specifying drop in units; a BTGOR6 open fronted refrigerated display; a LSCM3 ceramic heated display; a GLFT3 refrigerated well with gantry; a BTG0H6 drop-in open fronted heated display; and a LSR refrigerated well with gantry.
According to Smith: “We love the Cossiga products for the range and flexibility they offer. The variety of different self and assisted service options they offer is fantastic and working with the Cossiga team we were able to ensure the units we used in the final scheme fit the client’s requirements.
“The multi-level drop in heated display is perfect for serving hot snacks in a fast track environment. The technical team worked alongside our designers and shopfitters, offering practical advice and solutions where needed.”
As the project continued, the brief changed slightly when the client made a decision to move from bean-to-cup self-service coffee to an assisted service barista offer. “This had an impact on the design and flow as we had to accommodate the coffee moving to the back bar and consequently re-think how the grab and go/self-service section would work,” recalled Smith. “We liaised at length with the client and operator to ensure the final design would not only allow the final coffee area to keep customers moving through the space quickly, but also that it wouldn’t impact the main service areas.”
The rest of the equipment provision included a Rational 10 grid SCC combi oven. “Rational is consistently supportive and a maintained market leader, with a great product and great support,” said Smith.
Prime cooking appliances were from the CookTek induction range via MCS Technical Products. Smith revealed: “We used this product as it was the closest thing we could find which met all the client requirements. The space in the kitchen was incredibly tight and we wanted an induction unit which could offer duel zones.”
While the Maidaid EVO 2035WS provided the warewashing capability, a brand which Smith described as “very reliable; its pricing is competitive and after service is second to none”.
ABDA plumped for Ventserv for all ventilation systems, which the kitchen design house used for many years. “They are trustworthy, helpful and efficient,” said Smith.
Furthermore, the “helpful and reliable and cost effective” Storers provided the coldroom, while Archer Catering Systems carried out all the installation. Smith appraised: “We find Nick Archer and his team to be really helpful and reliable – nothing is too much trouble.”
One of the challenges ABDA faced was to ensure the new kitchen would deliver the extended menu offer. Smith explained: “Space and storage is limited on site, so when designing the back of house area we increased the chilled storage by adding a walk in cold/freezer room. We needed to ensure there was the right balance of storage/cooking equipment and preparation space to enable the staff to work efficiently within the space.”
Another challenge was that all the plant for the extraction and chillers had to be located on the flat roof. “Due to the site being heavily populated, the physical element of moving the plant had to be done at 3am!” reported Smith.
The kitchen design house had a 4-5 week window to complete the project, with the Easter bank holiday falling towards the later part of the program. Smith commented: “We have a great team of contractors who work for us and the onsite team were exceptionally accommodating and helpful throughout the duration of the program. We worked closely with the operator to ensure they had enough time at the end of the program for mobilisation and training. Onsite training was given by manufacturers on all the equipment installed.”
She concluded: “This project was a real pleasure to work on with such a great team including the client and operator. Each individual has been highly motivated into delivering a great restaurant for the client. We feel that we have delivered a warm and contemporary environment which we are all proud of.”