Success in the hospitality industry requires a good plan, and that’s especially true when designing the blueprint for a commercial kitchen. A restaurant’s kitchen serves as both the heart and brain of the business and all its employees — ideally churning out creativity and galvanizing financial growth in equal measure. When a kitchen’s design is good, it can be the impetus behind immense profit and professional progress; when the design is faulty, it’s hard if not impossible to recover.
Here are the 5 tips that will help ensure your new — or newly remodeled — kitchen is as efficient and functional as possible.
1- Always Consider Flow
Great restaurant service is like a top-notch ballet: Each dancer plays his or her part, and when it’s done correctly, those parts come together to form a beautiful, seamless whole. That kind of excellence requires some savvy staging, though — and in restaurants, that means flow:
- Have definite “in” and “out” doors for staff to use while entering and exiting the kitchen. One “all-purpose door” practically guarantees broken plates and mayhem.
- Design cold and hot lines according to the steps of service. If you do a high volume of plates with both fried and cold components, for instance, you’ll likely want the fry station and garde manger/garnish to be close together.
- Consider where you’ll be receiving deliveries and plan the placement of your dry and cold storage areas accordingly. No one wants to lug the twice-weekly seafood haul from one end of the restaurant to the other, and you won’t want to pay for that unnecessary labor either.
2- Invest in Great Sanitation
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 13,360 cases of foodborne illness in the United States in 2013, and 60 percent of those cases were linked to restaurants. To prevent becoming a part of this statistic, installing a number of dedicated hand-washing sinks and establishing dedicated work zones throughout the kitchen will allow employees to maintain high standards of personal hygiene. This also helps employees avoid cross-contamination or having to step out of the normal flow of food prep or execution just to clean up.
3- Factor in Your Storage Needs
Storage in commercial kitchens can be tricky. You have to keep items like utensils and hotel pans clean, but they also need to be close at hand in order for your cooks to keep up the often hectic pace of a lunch or dinner service. Pantry items require similar attention. Your exact storage needs will depend on your menu, but undercounter reach-in fridges, ingredient bins and heavy-duty can racks may all prove useful and require a fairly large dedicated footprint, too.
4- From Wash to Waste
Anyone who regards the dishwashing area of a restaurant as the least important should see what happens when the machine breaks down on a busy Saturday night. In reality, the washing and waste disposal functions of a restaurant are at the very core of its success. Lay out the space to allow service staff to clear and stack plates with ease — the quicker they do so, the quicker your dishwashers can put clean plates and cutlery back into rotation and the less you’ll have to ultimately invest in smallwares.
5- Allow for Change
The commercial kitchen has evolved immeasurably over the last few decades and that trend is unlikely to change. The stack ovens you love today might be obsolete tomorrow, and the last thing you want is to have to rip apart your entire layout just to swap out a piece or two. Some elements of your kitchen design might be fairly permanent, but if you can allow for adaptability, definitely do so. The less downtime you need down the line for mini-remodel efforts, the happier you, your customers, and your bank account will ultimately be.
Trends come and go in the restaurant industry with such speed that it sometimes seems like the only constant is change. While that might make designing an efficient and functional kitchen problematic, a great plan can lead to great success.
Invest in a little foresight and the rewards will be truly delicious
Fabio Tantaro is Director of Marketing at Specifi, a global foodservice specification platform. Since joining the team in 2011, Tantaro has utilized his graphic and design skills to deliver creative solutions for the company’s branding, messaging and event strategy.