Restaurant Design Associates has over a decade of experience in education catering design – from independent schools to some of the UK’s most prestigious universities. Here, Senior Consultant, Paul Hirst gives his top tips on counters and food display in schools and the importance of good design in making the school meal service a more attractive place to visit.
- Key Considerations
The key considerations caterers need to make when fitting a counter or food display in schools are an efficient and logical food service flow to ensure a speedy service and minimise the time spent queuing. Also, careful design considerations should be taken into account to maximise the use of available space. Many schools prefer mobile counters that can be readily stored elsewhere should the dining space be used for alternative functions.
- Making the school meal service a more attractive place to visit
Counter design is very important in making the dining experience fun and interactive. Vibrant colours and interesting material choices should be incorporated where possible. Live theatre cooking is often incorporated to create the “fresh” and just made appeal to students I.e. Pasta stations where pasta is finished in front of the student.
- Upselling the food on offer
Food being presented on modern counters can certainly help to upsell the food offers on display if coupled with modern and bright serving dishes. Dated stainless steel counter bain-maries give the impression of low grade institutional catering.
- Managing counters and food display in areas where the dining room is mixed use
Caterers can manage food service operations in schools where the space is used for a variety of reasons. The use of mobile counters can be adopted, provided storage is sufficient to store them elsewhere whilst the room is being used for alternative uses, i.e. School Hall, Gym or Exam spaces.
- Design trends that schools could adopt
Current trends within the industry include Botanical themes, Urban/industrial, Rustic or simply Minimalistic. Minimalistic counters in relatively neutral colours will not date as rapidly as current trends. Adopting a plain colour on the fascia’s i.e. white allows for vibrant over-branding which can be changed periodically as trends arise.
- Tips on buying new counters and food displays
Always engage with a professional design company experienced in schools catering to design counters and food displays.Also, ensure that the main frames of the counters are manufactured in high grade stainless steel and robust in nature to ensure longevity.