A group of chefs, designers and industry experts weigh in on why bigger is not always better
In an era where Marie Kondo, a minimalist enthusiast, has become a household name and there is an increased interest in quality versus quantity, tiny restaurants are no longer being seen as an inconvenience for diners, but a natural evolution to the tastes and preferences of this era.
That being said, we are seeing an increase in tiny restaurants around the globe; chefs that are trading in large spaces, for intimate surroundings. Here a number of tiny restaurant owners, chefs, and designers tell us why going small may be better.
With a global staff shortage in the hospitality industry and massive minimum wage increases across the United States, smaller restaurants do a good job in solving the great staff dilemma. Chef John Zucker, owner of Purlieu , a 34 seat restaurants located in Charleston’s Westside neighborhood says, “Tiny allowed me to to focus on finding and retaining a handful of amazing employees rather than keeping a gigantic staff.”
Since there isn’t a lot of storage space in tiny restaurants, good chances are you won’t lose track of your inventory and you won’t have a lot of food that will go to waste. In smaller restaurants, it’s only natural that you will only buy what you will use and you’ll certainly reduce the amount of food that you throw away. Adam McIntyre, the co-founder of BrandPacks, a menu design company explains further, “We see a pattern that tiny restaurants have smaller menus, which makes it easier to control stock and minimize food wastage.”
Reduce Overhead Costs
Due to the scale of the space, tiny restaurants have cheaper rents, utility bills and require less maintenance than big restaurants. Many small restaurants, such as Emmy Squared, a sixty seat pizza joint located in New York and Nashville, are partially built in refurbished shipping containers, allowing them to produce a high volume of product, with less of an overall cost to the establishment. Having a menu that specializes in a few key dishes means that they can produce more with fewer ingredients, thus decreasing costs, without sacrificing sales.
Create a Community
“Although it might be harder for tiny restaurants to build a well-known brand, explain the experts at McDonald Restaurant Supply, it’s often easier for them to build a core of regular, loyal customers. “Tiny restaurants, because of their charm and their intimate environments, make for an atmosphere where chef and staff can truly engage with their guests and build real connections. Adam McIntyre adds, “Limited menus give your restaurant the opportunity to focus on producing quality dishes with efficient service.”
Allows for Creativity
Since smaller restaurants have less space, they require more creativity in design. Stephan Francis Jones, a veteran designer with an expertise in small spaces, explains that when outfitting a tiny restaurant you have to be clever and think of out-of-the-box solutions for challenges set by limited room. When designing the tiny restaurants in The Point Shopping Center in El Segundo, Jones had to figure out how to fit all the kitchen equipment in an 825 sf space. ” The solution for the mechanical equipment was to create a ventilated stacked tiered structure along one side of the building to house water heaters, exhaust fans, and other equipment to create a chimney-like structure. What I’ve learned in all these years of design, is that small spaces require more thoughtful and efficient design concepts.”
*featured photo: courtesy of Emmy Squared