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Why the consultant’s job shouldn’t end at the counter’s edge | The case for cafeterias

July 29, 2021
Twin Lakes Middle School

In most K-12 kitchen construction or renovation projects, foodservice consultants are an integral design team leader — but their role typically ends at the serving counter’s edge, where an architect or designer steps in to direct the visual elements of the cafeteria space.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. And maybe it shouldn’t.

Consultants are often the ones most closely connected to the project’s stakeholders and have the best understanding of their goals and desires.

An architect or designer, who swoops in to select the materials, colors and designs for walls, tables, countertops, serving counter fronts and more, is typically less tied to the overall project.

What often results from this arrangement is a design that’s easy to accomplish but frankly boring to experience, employing primarily neutral colors in tones of beige and gray, plain stainless steel serving lines, and little to no visual accents. It’s not uncommon for foodservice directors or school district leaders to express some disappointment and a sense of, “It just looks like a cafeteria.”

The final product unfortunately becomes a reflection on the foodservice consultant, with whom school leaders interact most often, because the end user doesn’t realize the division of labor.

A better way

Foodservice consultants should consider weighing in on the total project and advocating for complete involvement, from the combi-ovens to the countertops and beyond. The dining area, after all, is still a foodservice space.

By getting more involved, consultants can better support the project’s goals and ensure the stakeholders’ satisfaction.

But you’re not a visual designer, you say? No problem. Partnering with LTI’s VisionDesign program, consultants can offer design as an add-on service, one that leads to better results and additional revenue.

VisionDesign’s K-12 experts can design paint schemes, graphics, counter front panels, lighting, signage, seating and more to create a space that wows school leadership and provides an appealing, exciting experience for students.

These designs can be brought to life for the project leaders through photo-quality renderings that can be offered as part of the consultant’s design package.

Westsdie High Rendering

Discover more about VisionDesign services. Then contact LTI to learn about partnering with our experts for your next K-12 cafeteria project.