Designing Your Front of House, Back of House and Counter Spaces for Maximum Sales Potential

The secret to a successful concept or precinct is to a have a Core Quality Asset – shop, café or food market, it is all about building a great place, a space that is well designed and is appealing and beautiful.  Beautiful spaces attract people therefore fulfilling the key-sales maximisation principles of successful food operations:

  1. Attract the customer

  2. Maximise their spend

  3. Ensure they will return again and again

So, how much does the design of a Food and Beverage outlet impact operational efficiency and sales maximisation? 

At Future Food, we tend to talk a lot about the customer experience and this is because we believe it is the key ingredient of a customer’s interaction with a food and beverage concept. The way a customer rates a place is not on the size or scale of the shop, it is how immersive and experiential the environment is and how it compliments the food offering - food and design need to work in harmony which means operational efficiencies and ergonomic design need to be implemented perfectly. Let’s delve deeper into the key considerations of a concept to ensure functionality meets clever and creative design.


Front of House vs Back of House

Well-balanced design is a product of demarcation - the ability to design a tenancy so that there is clear devision between zones including the kitchen, counter and/or bar areas and seating zones. As rental rates rise, it is becoming increasingly important to create an efficient concept in a smaller space to maximise sales return. This poses the challenge of creating a visually appealing environment that has limited storage space and majority of it’s aspects exposed to the customer whilst also keeping it practical for food production and customer interaction. 

Over the years, the Future Food team has developed a thorough understanding of shop concept designs and what the best practice standards are specific to the concepts nuances and operational efficiencies and functionality, relating to the Front of House (FOH) and Back of House (BOH) division of the spaces. We like to do a ‘walk through’ to emulate the customer service procedures and food production activity of an initial design concept to ensure the sequence of service and customer interaction works well in the space. This means going through each process including customer ordering, behind counter production, BOH production, food delivery and payment. This achieves ergonomic success, maximises customer turnover and risks associated with poor operational management are reduced. 

Fonda Mexican's exposed kitchen must remain visually appealing whilst still being functional for the chefs and FOH team

Fonda Mexican's exposed kitchen must remain visually appealing whilst still being functional for the chefs and FOH team


Counters and Point-of-Sale Zones

Technology is now a major component of food retail and needs to be planned for and accommodated for in the design of an outlet. The point of sale (POS) zone is often the interface between the operation and the customer and needs to be present professionally. This is when smart design comes into play to ensure that visually unappealing aspects of this zone are hidden as to not detract from the visual presentation of not only the food but also the retail tenancy. 

Think things such as POS terminals, screens, cabling, printers etc - these are not features that customers want to see and whilst they are essential, the are not the hero of a food operation. Counter and display zones should be eye-catching and it is imperative that counter capacity is established to contain turnover volumes, and to maintain fresh produce to provide a vibrant and abundant display that draws customers in. Having display cabinets that are too large not only results in empty spaces or food wastage, it reduces the concept’s appeal. 

Our borrowed mantra - ‘a place for everything and everything in it’s place’  aims to communicate the need to plan and design with every detail in mind. Details such as napkin sizes, where they will be stored, how will the condiments be displayed and where will patrons get their cutlery must all be integrated into the design from the beginning to ensure harmony between the food and experience can be met. 

Functionality and service reviews are integral in the design phase of a concept to test for efficiency and speed. Let’s look at the example of a barista station with it’s working components of machine, grinder, knock-out tube/drawer, milk fridge, crockery storage, and paper cup storage - if this area is not perfectly designed, an operator is minimising their efficiency and therefore their sales opportunity and customer turnover. By reviewing this process in the initial phases of a concept, any issues can be teased out to ensure a space that is both highly functional and visually appealing. 

Shortstop Coffee and Donuts  in Melbourne - refined POS design to match the aesthetic as well as provide functionality by  Foolscap Studio  - image credit  Tom Blachford

Shortstop Coffee and Donuts in Melbourne - refined POS design to match the aesthetic as well as provide functionality by Foolscap Studio - image credit Tom Blachford

Future Food works closely with food retailers, cafe/restaurant operators and retail food designers to refine both BOH and FOH operations as it is now clear that an impactful shop must be eye-catching, well balanced, well planned and then thoroughly tested. The process of refinement has been something we have gained over years of watching what works, what doesn’t and how people interact with a space. Once harmony between food and design is reached, benefits extend to the customer, the staff and adds to the sustainability and cost-effectiveness of all food service operations.