How to Set Up and Run a Commercial Kitchen: A Start to End Checklist

Chef cooking over a flaming pan in a commercial kitchen

Owning a food business is no easy feat. There are so many things to take into account, from the food itself to the marketing and everything in between. But one of the most important aspects of any foodservice business is the kitchen. The kitchen is where the magic happens, and if it’s not up to par, your food business will suffer; with careful planning and execution, your kitchen can run like a well-oiled machine. 

A commercial kitchen is a great investment for anyone looking to start out or expand their culinary business, however, managing one can be daunting. Here’s our start to end checklist on how to set up and run a commercial kitchen, so, whether you’re an experienced restaurateur or a complete novice, read on for everything you need to know…

How to find the right kitchen for you

To help you make the right choice for your food business, follow the below points when considering the ideal kitchen space…


There are many options to consider when it comes to finding the right commercial kitchen to rent. These include dark kitchens, delivery kitchens, catering kitchens and central production units.

Once you know what type of kitchen you need, think about the size of your food business and how much space you will need. Start researching kitchens in your area that fit your criteria.


The kitchen should be big enough to accommodate your staff and kitchen equipment, but also small enough to maintain efficiency. You’ll need adequate space for cooking equipment, food prep areas, dry storage and frozen or cold storage containers. Be sure to find a commercial kitchen that can accommodate your business plan.


Is the lease available flexible enough to suit the needs of your business? Leased commercial kitchens can be hired as single production units or large-scale commercial catering spaces. If you’d like more privacy in your operation and want to have more control, a longer-term lease is recommended for your foodservice business.


Before deciding on the kitchen you want to rent, make sure to ask about rental requirements – the required insurance level, the charge per hour/day/month, available appliances and storage materials, and whether space is shared or dedicated. 

Setting up and stocking your kitchen​

Now you’ve found your perfect kitchen, here’s how to make it fully functional…

Plan your layout: kitchen designing

It’s a good idea to plan your kitchen layout before designing or building it – this will help you determine the best placement for appliances, utensils, workstations, ventilation systems, refrigerator units and food waste. You’ll need to ensure the space is big enough to accommodate all of your cooking equipment and that it has adequate ventilation.

Kitchen appliances

Once you have planned the layout of your kitchen, you need to fit it out with the right catering equipment. If you’re just starting out in the foodservice industry and your budget is a little tight, we recommend hiring catering or restaurant equipment initially, before buying it. Make sure you have everything from ovens and stoves to mixers and blenders.

Kitchen storage

There are many different options when it comes to commercial kitchen storage. Kitchen shelves, racks and carts are all available in different sizes and styles. Additionally, mobile storage units improve your organisation and are also an efficient option to transport food and equipment.

Managing your kitchen

Here’s what to do on a day-to-day basis to keep your kitchen running smoothly…

Food storage

You will need to store non-food items, dry food, and cold food in separate areas. Be sure to store your goods near the delivery area; this will give you the ability to put away things quickly. Check out our food storage safety tips.

Food prep

Your food prep station should include a designated sink for washing and preparing food. You will also need an area for chopping, prepping meats, and dressings. This area should be near the storage of your fresh ingredients to help your kitchen flow effectively.


Your assembly line should easily flow between prep and pass. Have a limited number of staff working in this area to avoid any health and safety mishaps.

Cleaning and washing

All cleaning products must be stored and prepared in an area separate from your food to prevent cross-contamination. 

Kitchen staff

One of the most essential parts of any catering or restaurant kitchen is the staff that operates it. Make sure you have reliable kitchen staff who can manage your kitchen effectively. You need to ensure your staff follows all health and safety regulations, and everyone cooking must have a food handling licence. 

While many jobs in a restaurant kitchen are entry-level positions, such as dishwasher or prep cook, others require years of experience. When hiring head chefs, sous chefs and cooks, look for experienced people who can work as part of a team and who can handle and prepare all types of food.


Regular food safety training is also of paramount importance in any commercial kitchen.

Health and safety rules and regulations

When it comes to running a commercial catering kitchen, there are a number of important rules and  regulations to follow to ensure your kitchen is safe and sanitary and of course practical…

Food hygiene rules

Food safety and hygiene are of utmost importance in any kitchen. When running a commercial kitchen, preventing food poisoning and keeping your customers and staff healthy is essential. Foods such as meat should be cooked thoroughly to remove the risk of harmful bacteria and always ensure raw meat doesn’t come into contact with ready-to-eat foods.

Fire safety regulations

The vast majority of commercial kitchens rely on cooking appliances that adhere to fire safety regulations. So, regularly charging and testing fire suppression options in the ventilation system and fire extinguishers is a must.

Sanitation rules

The rules and regulations created by the health department require commercial kitchen owners to make sure that all the surfaces in their premises are disinfected and clean for food safety. Commercial kitchens should also have a different sink for washing your hands.

Gas safety regulations

Gas appliances in your kitchen must be CE-marked to show that they are safe to use. All commercial kitchens need to have a natural gas fitted and interlock system. The interlock system makes sure that gas passes safely into your pieces of equipment, preventing accidents, explosions, and carbon monoxide leaks.

Are you searching for your perfect commercial kitchen? At Dephna, we offer complete flexibility and 24-hour access with commission-free deliveries. Enquire now to book a visit


by Dephna

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