1. Ingredients on display
America’s Dog & Burger, a four-unit quick-service concept in Chicago, is currently renovating its store at the city’s tourist-heavy Navy Pier. The remodeled food court location, slated to open next year, will feature a walk-in cooler with four glass doors near the ordering counter. This transparency emphasizes the freshness of the ingredients, says owner Manolis Alpogianis. The only things hidden from customer view will be the three-compartment sink and trash area. As the chain looks to expand, new units will feature the front-of-house-heavy design, he says.
2. Front-facing prep work
Two of Coolgreens’ seven units have been redesigned recently to remove the back of house. As part of the change, the customizable salad, bowl and sandwich chain now requires all employees to face customers while doing prep work. Customers have been ordering more sides and drinks since they’re able to watch staff preparing pasta salads, agua frescas and more, says Angelo Cipollone, the chain’s director of operations and corporate chef. Check averages in the remodeled units have grown from $9.18 to close to $14, he says, and overall sales have jumped 20% since the rollout of the new design. As such, all of Oklahoma-based Coolgreens’ existing stores will be retrofitted with the new design, and future stores will follow this model as well. At America’s Dog & Burger, the fries will now be cut in the front of house instead of behind the kitchen wall. “It adds a lot of theater to a quick-serve place,” Alpogianis says. “If you’re going to have fresh-cut fries, cut them in front of the customer.”
3. Minimizing a unit’s footprint
With the new design, Coolgreens’ footprint has slimmed down from about 2,400 square feet to 1,800 square feet. Removing the wall that separates the restaurant’s front and back of house along with reconfiguring one of the prep tables and creating a linear store layout led to the decreased need for real estate, Cipollone says. Future units can be configured in a “long linear” design or in an L-shaped one, he says, with the linear format being the preferred option because of its space-saving benefits.