I finally had a chance to experience the newest First Watch, the current flagship and prototype restaurant for the Florida based daytime cafe, and to taste the dishes added to the spring menu.
As you know, First Watch closed its longtime Maitland location and moved that operation down Orlando Avenue to the former Cinco Tacos + Tequila and Carmel Kitchen building in Winter Park. The new location had been long planned, but the circumstances of the pandemic and the changes it made to the way we dined caused the First Watch team to change the design.
For example, because takeout and delivery became so important to us, First Watch created a separate entry for customers and delivery drivers to pickup orders to go. What’s more, it reengineered the kitchen area to provide a separate cook line for those takeout orders. That allows for an efficiency of output, with to-go meals packaged apart from where dine-in orders are “plated.” But it also allows better spacing for the kitchen staff.
That’s important: When we hear about social distancing in restaurants we think about the spacing between tables, we seldom think about the often-cramped conditions in the kitchen where cooks regularly work elbow to elbow. And plexiglass partitions aren’t going to help back there.
But changes were also made to facilitate better spacing for diners, too, including an expanded patio area, which is where I sat when I was invited to sample the spring menu items.