The importance of an efficient commercial kitchen layout
A kitchen is the heartbeat of a restaurant. Without the kitchen functioning effectively and pumping out high-quality food efficiently, the food business begins to suffer.
Although we say the heartbeat of a ‘restaurant’, the same rule applies to all food businesses. Whether it’s a street food truck renting a dark kitchen or a delivery-only business renting a food delivery kitchen, your commercial kitchen keeps your venture alive.
A commercial restaurant kitchen design is vital for a smooth operation. The consequences of a successful kitchen layout are performance is at a high, staff productivity peaks and your teams produce the highest quality meals. In turn, this allows staff to provide an amazing customer dining experience, whether this is from your restaurant or tucking into a takeaway at home.
In contrast, poor kitchen designs cause safety hazards, unnecessary time wasted and general chaos for staff.
If you’re a start-up building your first kitchen hire, or your current kitchen layout is causing productivity issues and you need a revamp, we’ve got the advice you need. We’ll be covering the essential components every thriving kitchen needs, the different types of kitchen layouts and also covering the different types of commercial kitchens to rent.
Components of a functional commercial kitchen area
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the kitchen design and flow, consider the individual components needed for your business that will allow optimum performance. Focus on dedicated spaces for prep, goods and food storage, cooking and service areas, for example.
When you know what components need to be in the kitchen, then you can start the design process and begin finding the most efficient flow for your space.
Here are the components that we think are a MUST for any commercial kitchen floor plan:
Food preparation area
Food prep areas may have a number of sections depending on what you’re serving, for example, a prep station for raw meats, one for vegetarian, vegan or fresh foods and a third for sorting food into batches, if needed.
Your prep section should have stainless steel counter space, cutting tools and any necessary storage. It’s also handy to place your preparation station near a fridge or cold storage room so you can store raw ingredients safely until they’re needed. It also encourages staff to place items back into the fridge once they’re finished, even if the kitchen is busy.
One of the most important areas of your kitchen will be your cooking area; unless your concept is dealing with raw foods only, such as preparing meal prep boxes. Your cooking area will contain all of the necessary equipment to bring your menu to life, a kitchen display system that makes it easy to keep track of orders and essentials such as extractor fans and industrial ventilation systems.
Every good kitchen owner knows the clean-as-you-go rule; it’s vital if you want to keep the most hygienic space that adheres to commercial hygiene rules and health and safety standards.
Incorporate two wash stations into your kitchen layout, one for washing food and another for washing dirty dishes. This ensures dirty suds and leftover foods from the plates will never land on your fresh produce. If possible, we also recommend a separate wash area for hands!
Your wash station should include stainless steel sinks, industrial dishwashers and drying racks. As well as storage with ample cleaning products to keep the general areas gleaming and hygienic.
Packing or service
For dine-in restaurants, a service station is used to perfect the presentation of the food and add any garnishes. It is also where the servers or food runners collect the final plates to serve to customers.
For food businesses operating out of dark kitchen rentals and delivery-only kitchens, the traditional service area will now become your packing area. Use this station to pack any meals for food delivery, do a final check to ensure everything on the order is present and ‘garnish’ the bags with sauces and cutlery, if necessary.
The service or packing areas should have heat lamps to keep the food warm in the process of packing and waiting for collection by either the server or food delivery person.
To meet commercial food safety standards, thoughtful storage solutions are so important. Your kitchen should have separate storage units for your kitchen tools and place settings, perishable foods, and dry goods.
Commercial kitchen design; the main layouts
The components of a commercial kitchen are covered, so now you can start thinking about kitchen design and which layout will provide the most efficient work flow for your business needs.
While you have the freedom to do whatever you see fit with your own space, these popular commercial kitchen layouts have proved to be successful time and time again. So, if you’re a newbie, or struggling to nail your kitchen design, here’s some inspiration:
Assembly line layout
An assembly line kitchen layout features a row of stations in the centre of the space, typically starting with food prep and ending with your service or packing station.
Assembly line typically works best for businesses producing the same dish repeatedly, such as pizzerias or burger joints, and where staff are responsible for one dedicated part of the production process.
If you have a broad food offering or lots of staff, you should consider implementing the zone-style kitchen layout.
Zone-style maintains an organised kitchen and makes it easy for many different meal types to be prepared at any one time. The blueprint does require ample space if you want the kitchen to run smoothly, and you need ample staff, typically specialised chefs for each station.
You should avoid this layout if you have a small kitchen, however, it works great for larger catering kitchens or hotel restaurants, for example.
The island commercial kitchen layout starts with the ring layout but with an added central prep or cooking station. The ring layout may consist of storage units, wash stations and food prep counters along the perimeter, with the main cooking equipment in the centre.
This command centre creates a passthrough point for every meal, so the island layout encourages staff communication and guarantees executive chef supervision.
The island configuration is best for restaurants with ample kitchen space to ensure that the island doesn’t create an obstacle for the team.
In the galley kitchen layout, each station and all commercial kitchen equipment is around the perimeter of the kitchen. For very small spaces, you can place equipment along two parallel walls.
If you have a large kitchen, you could create the ring layout with empty space in the middle. This allows space for multiple cooks to be in the kitchen, who can easily rotate through the different stations at once.