Advice for Food Service in an Art Gallery

Joined Apr 5, 2007
I was wondering if anybody here has had any experience with running a permanent restaurant space inside of an art gallery?

In this "friend of a friend" scenario this would come with the doubling of space of an existing gallery space, Any specialso yes, a brand new install. 

Any special considerations that might not be obvious when dealing with sort of concept?  My concerns (beyond the usual going broke stuff) are on the safety and preservation of the art.  

I am torn between going all electric and avoiding gas appliances, while on the other side I suspect a hood might be needed just to minimize steam/grease in the air.

Any thoughts?
Joined Oct 31, 2012
  1.  Why is the gallery allowing a restaurant of any kind in the same space as the art? It seems obvious to me that the art always needs to be atmospherically isolated for preservations sake. Unless you serve cold sandwiches with ingredients prepared elsewhere I don't see how you would avoid the need for a hood at least. 

 2. In what way is this different from a restaurant hanging local artists on their dining room walls? 

3. Having some sort of food available is becoming increasingly common at many galleries, but typically elsewhere on the property. You could take a look at some other galleries and see how they handle it. I'm sure there must be pictures on the internet if you aren't able to travel to them. 

4. Assuming  the space to be expanded will be one big room, you could separate the food facilities from the art by installing a large glass wall between the two. 
Joined Apr 5, 2007

1) Increase in general revenue and increase general presence in the local community.  Allows for access to liquor licence which would greatly augment show openings (shows open biweekly-to monthly).  Also to provide a social space for an upcoming art scene.  An exhaust system, I think anyway, is important.  I do not think the layout would preclude a well sequestered kitchen that would vent out into the back. The landlord is looking at redoing the heating in the building and installing heat pumps so it wouldn't be a bad time to look at it.

2) The environment is not a static space.  These are all curated shows, usually more than just paintings.  Sculpture, mixed media, etc are represented.  This is gallery focused on art sales and rentals, not merely a place for display.  Smaller pieces and artisan jewelry are also on display for sale.  Shows and materials change frequently, and at this point the menu of whatever foodservice is developed will follow along with that model.

3)  I have.I have also done caterings and pop ups in several galleries over the years and can tell you that their safety concerns are all over the place.  Our provincial gallery, for example, will not allow red when or coloured spirits on the premises.  Not for risk of spillage but rather for volitals that enter the air when opened.  I was curious about any less "academic" experiences any members might have personally had.  Horror stories, truth be told would be more than enlightening!

4)  As I hinted, the design is open to ideas right now.  We want to maintain an overall "look" with the new room.  Just how connected the rooms is tbd.  The new space will need to display some work, obviously the safety and fragility of the work will play a part in where it is displayed.  Where seating is set up will also play a part in that.
Joined Jun 27, 2012
Look to the cafés located in most museums.

Granted some do it better than others (John Besh in the WW2 museum in NOLA comes to that menu as it fits right in) but IMO would provide some food ;-) for thought.

Joined Sep 9, 2012
Look at the Dali in St Petersburg, everything is beautiful, rolled procciutto bundles etc on the salads, every plate is pretty and easy to produce with minimal space
Joined Apr 5, 2007
Thanks for the examples, very interesting indeed!  I will be happy to share more about this venture as it gets closer to being to being an actuality.  

In the meantime, any further thoughts from the community are more than welcome!  



Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
"Ooh look at that oil painting"

That's olive oil. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Last edited:
Joined Apr 5, 2007

One of the pop-ups I did last year was to open an urban art show.  We did one course, basically a composed salad, where all (er, most) of the ingredients have been sources for tattoo ink and dyes.  Came out similar to your scenario above!
Top Bottom