Chessington World of Adventures

Smokehouse BBQ at Chessington was the second smokehouse for Merlin Entertainment, embracing the trend for American barbecue food in the casual dining arena and turning it into the immersive experience of a leading UK theme park. Our brief was to create an on trend concept and design, service demand in good time and increase capacity.


The Challenge

In a theme park, everyone wants to eat at the same time. Chessington were under pressure to meet demand, both in terms of volume of food and the capacity of the restaurant. The previous operation was challenged because every food item had to be cooked and served from the kitchen. This meant the kitchen could not meet demand at peak trading and customer service was compromised.

Merlin approached Peppercorn to support turning this around through providing an on trend concept and design. The brief was to service demand in good time without compromising on the quality the park management team expected.

  • Create an immersive experience
  • Develop on trend concept
  • Increase capacity to meet demand
  • Improve speed of service

What We Did

We were involved in the first Smokehouse in LEGOLAND California. We took the base concept principles then evolved the proposition for the UK market and Chessington's demographic.

This began with sourcing the smoker which was to be the central focus for the restaurant. Through extensive research and tastings, we found a German company who had designed a smoker to deliver 2500lbs of meat in one cook cycle ensuring capacity could be met. The smoker was eventually painted red and aptly named "Big Red" to add personality and offer a sense of fun.

We also re designed the existing restaurant doubling its size and created an external viewing area to enhance the presence of the "Big Red" and achieve the desired number of covers to deliver the extra capacity. We also designed the front of house layout, kitchen, counters, till areas and managed the tender process for the bespoke furniture.

Flavour is everything, so we researched into the best wood to use to create a smoky flavour without being overpowering. We also needed something that would burn for a prolonged period of time as Smokehouse's brisket is smoked all day!

Once the design and build were finished we also supported the Chessington team by writing "how to" guides for "Big Red" and how to cook every dish on the menu to the same consistent quality every time.


The Results

Sales have delivered budgeted expectation year to date and Smokehouse has taken pressure off the rest of the park due to the increased capacity and speed of service delivery.


Project Photos