There is something special about restaurants with an open kitchen. The ability for customers to view what is happening behind the scenes is not only fascinating but it also emphasises a connection between the chefs and the customers.
When we were in Japan eight years ago, one thing which really struck us was how common it was for restaurants to have open kitchens. An open kitchen in Europe has become more common nowadays though still not mainstream.
Some of the best restaurant experiences (at least for foodies or those who love to cook) comes from either being able to see what is happening behind the scenes, or even better, when they get to speak to the chefs when they sometimes come out after service to speak to their guests.
Now, a study, published by Harvard Business Review has confirmed what might otherwise have been just a perception or hunch.
It might sound obvious, but the study has shown that transparency in the kitchen not only improves the perception of a good meal but also improves it.
The results were very interesting. Customer satisfaction with the food shot up by 10% when the cooks could see the customers, even though the customers could not see the cooks. In the opposite situation there was no improvement in satisfaction from the baseline condition in which neither group could see each other. But, when customers and cooks both could see each other, satisfaction went up 17.3% and service was 13.2% faster.
The researchers found that seeing the customer could make the employees feel more appreciated, more satisfied about their job and more willing to exert effort. What was incredible was that during the experiment, chefs could make eggs on the grill in advance, adding them to plates as needed which meant that they were often overcooked. When the chefs saw the customers, they started making eggs to order.
What is interesting is that cooks loved to see their customers so much that some wanted to keep this set-up.
It stands to reason that we will see more and more open kitchens in future. And that would be a great thing.