Commercial Kitchen Design Considerations

In an ideal world one would have a large, square room in which to create a commercial kitchen with an unlimited budget to spend. The reality is, however, that many restaurant or pub kitchens are on the small side, possibly an awkward shape and you certainly don’t have unlimited funds to get the catering equipment you would like.

So, whilst we are going to talk about the considerations for commercial kitchen design, we also want to reassure you that many of these rules will be challenging to for you to follow in a small space. The decisions you will need to make will be a compromise but enlisting the help of an experienced commercial kitchen designer to help you to plan within the limitations of your individual situation would ensure that you make the right decisions.

Commercial Kitchen Layout Planning

Safety, efficiency and therefore revenue are the integral factors for your commercial kitchen layout. Your kitchen equipment needs to be placed strategically to streamline all processes. Your staff need to take as few steps as possible to perform their tasks with a minimum of bending, stretching turning or crossing the paths of other staff members.

1. Customer Volumes

Knowing what your customer volumes are likely to be during peak service times will dictate many of the decisions you make when it comes to the catering equipment that you choose. For example, commercial combination ovens come in many sizes to cater for all volumes of food from a small pub kitchen to a huge hotel kitchen. You will need to factor in every aspect of servicing that volume of customers, from the refrigerated and dry storage space through to the pot washing and cooking areas.

2. Kitchen Flow

One of the essentials of planning the kitchen is that it must be designed around the workflow, the last thing you need is waiters tripping over chefs when the service area is not positioned correctly. Draw some plans to help you visualise every aspect of the food service process. Depending on the type of restaurant kitchen you are designing will dictate which of the following steps will apply to you. In your plan, consider the following:

  • Food Delivery (the delivery point should not be within the main working kitchen area)
  • Food storage (refrigerated and dry)
  • Preparation
  • Cooking
  • Service (including drinks service)
  • Dirty Dishes returned to be washed
  • Wash and waste disposal unit

Don’t forget to consider your menu when planning your kitchen flow and remember that food trends change so flexibility may be a factor.

3. Cleaning and Hygiene

Ensuring that your kitchen is spotlessly clean at all times is an essential consideration to adhere to hygiene laws but also to preserve the longevity of its functionality. Stainless steel is the ideal material to choose for surfaces as it is very durable. Flooring needs to be hard wearing, non-slip and seals need to be impervious to prevent dirt accumulating. The waste management system must be thought through carefully too as it will need to be situated way from food prep and storage areas.

Commercial Food Storage

Food storage areas are often underestimated when planning a professional kitchen. The following will need careful thought:

Refrigerated storage – In a perfect world a walk-in cold storage room would be best, however, for most establishments commercial fridges and cabinets are the only feasible option. You might consider undercounter fridges with a preparation surface above as a space saver in a small kitchen.

Freezer storage – If a walk-in freezer store is not possible, there are a huge range of chest and undercounter freezers available for smaller commercial kitchens.
Dry Storage – Tins, spices and fresh produce. Again, a large walk in area with a controlled temperature would be ideal, but when space is limited, lockable cupboards or racking are adequate.

Food Preparation Area

A key concern is that food preparation is segregated by food type and the area is completely hygienic. There should be separate areas for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables within one preparation area. Ideally the refrigerated storage would be situated within the prep area or at least very accessible to it. If you have the space, then sinks designated for the prep area would be best practice.

Cooking Area

The volume and type of food that you will be cooking in your restaurant will dictate how you design this area. However, these points should be considered:

  • Cooking equipment including stoves, fryers and ovens should be housed under a ventilated canopy with a sufficient overhang to all sides.
  • Separate Fryers from other equipment to prevent oil splatters from contaminating anything else.
  • Keep simmering or boiling liquids at one end of the cooking area including steam kettles, stock pots and skillets.
  • Fast cooking equipment such as griddles, fryers and salamanders would ideally be situated near to the service area.
  • Energy efficiency – Where possible install energy efficient cooking equipment such as induction cooking equipment, combination ovens and energy efficient grills. These will not only save you money on the running costs but will speed up delivery to customers and cut down on cleaning and maintenance.

Food Service Area

The food service area needs to be within direct access of the cooking area for plating up and the waiting staff or servers need to access it from the opposite side to the chefs, which in turn would be close to the dining area. Other points to think about here would be:

  • Adequate space for holding hot or cold food.
  • Heated gantries to keep food hot before it is served.
  • Easily accessible storage of clean crockery.

Dish and Pot Washing Area

Efficiency in this area is the key to a successful kitchen. Your waiting staff will need to have easy access to this area to not only stack dirty dishes ready to be washed but there also needs to be adequate waste disposal for leftover food.

Help With Commercial Kitchen Planning

Here at Roundstone Catering we have over 40 years’ experience in installing and designing commercial kitchens of all shapes and sizes. No job is too small or too complex. We understand that many professional kitchens are limited on space and therefore require clever and thoughtful planning to make the best use of the space available. Call us now for advice and help on 01225 709 595.

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