When open kitchens became cool and beneficial for American restaurants

When open kitchens became cool and beneficial for American restaurants

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The open kitchen has gone from being a necessity to an accessory. Initially restaurants gave diners a front-row seat to meal preparation in New York City as a means to compensate for lack of space. About a decade ago may be when the concept became a thing, and restaurateurs started willingly opening the back of the house for all to see.

It was around this time that The New York Times contributor Frank Bruni wrote an amusingly accurate piece about open kitchens. He scoffed at the fact that you can see your sausage practically being made right in front of you, rather than delivered in a nice, inconspicuous package like the good ol' days. His opinion probably represents a portion of Americans to this day, but that was then and this is now. Open kitchens have become a boon for establishments that are willing to bare all to the consumers. 

Why have people embraced open kitchens?
The large support for open kitchens these days might stem from a number of places. For starters, food trends have changed a lot, and as of recently, people are increasingly curious about what they're eating and where it's coming from. As reported by Nation's Restaurant News, local sourcing of seafoods and meats in expected to continue to be a top culinary trend in 2015.

The demand for locally sourced foods may be a driver for restaurants to convert to open kitchen style layouts.

The information was derived from "What's Hot in 2015," a survey which is conducted on an annual basis. Participants this time around included 1,300 chefs who are all members of the American Culinary Federation – which means they know their stuff. Additionally, the survey revealed that patrons want to know that their food is environmentally friendly and minimally processed. 

Maybe others enjoy open-kitchen-style dining because they're hoping to catch a glimpse of a melt down, like a quintessential moment on Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares." It's no secret that deep down, people love to watch culinary experts blow their lids when someone lets a piece of meat cook for too long. The show aired for over seven years, and while it was running, it garnered a following of 9.2 million viewers, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Places started to own open kitchen
Perhaps the whole transparency trend sparked when a select few in the restaurant industry decided they had nothing to hide from the patrons. It's a way to flaunt it if you've got it – and many have tried and succeeded.  

"It comes as no surprise that culinary all-star David Chang decided to make noodlebar Momofuku in New York City an open kitchen."

It comes as no surprise that culinary all-star David Chang decided to make noodlebar Momofuku in New York City an open kitchen. Ever wondered what it takes to assemble those mouth-watering pork buns? Head to First Avenue to find out – you won't be sorry. New York magazine summarized the experience as something comparable to a Cirque du Soleil show.

In addition to sit-down establishments, fast food places like Chipotle are increasingly showing guests how their food is made. Since the company decided to revamp its model a few years back, it's added a line up of ingredients in every location. If you've never been to a Chipotle, you can see all of the fixings while an employee makes your taco bowl or burrito, and other fast food/ quick service places have taken to that style as well. It's become increasingly popular. 

Sweet perks of the layout
Even Bertucci's plans to remodel more locations to have the feature, following success from the first few open kitchens, according to Nation's Restaurant News. Chief Executive Bill Freeman told NRN that once Nashua rolled out the open kitchen, the store saw a double-digit increase in sales. Another location in Braintree has had a similar experience, and Freeman predicts check averages will increase over time as well. So far the company has pegged 60 of its 80 locations to be converted to an open kitchen format. 

Places that can pull it off can make the open kitchen a niche. It can be a way to draw in more guests, as it's clearly become something of a marvel. Additionally, it's a way to show off your brand, fresh ingredients and passion. 

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