No two restaurant kitchens are built the same, especially if we consider how many restaurant types are there – full service, quick service, grill houses, wine bars, etc. However, every kitchen floor design needs to include factors like flexibility and spatial efficiency, kitchen workflow, and food sanitation and safety. In addition, a modern kitchen layout needs to be energy-efficient, to provide good ventilation, and to allow for easy maintenance. Let’s expand these points and see what areas you can improve or incorporate.
Just as you make your menu flexible to cater to a wide array of patrons, your kitchen layout needs to be flexible to adapt to shifting daily specials and seasonal changes. A modular kitchen with equipment on wheels and workstations that lend themselves to a range of different tasks is an excellent option when your space is limited. Saving space by using only the equipment you need is essential for the next consideration – the kitchen workflow.
While the nature of any kitchen is chaotic, only the best kitchens use this chaos to their advantage. If you design your kitchen with areas separated by different functions, for example, storage, cleaning, inventory, food preparation, meal preparation, and service, you automatically keep waste disposal and cleaning areas distant from meal preparation areas. The point is that completed meals should exit on one side, while used dishes enter on another.
Many kitchen managers make a mistake by not having enough wash stations. When planning the size of drain boards, landing tables, and racks, you need not only consider the volume of dishes, glasses, and cutlery that will keep coming on your busiest days, but also the capacity of dishwashers. Food safety and restaurant health codes, should be emphasized throughout the whole kitchen area, make a special plan as to where your used dishes will pile up, and where serving teams can reach the clean ones easily.
Training and supervision
In the back, there should be a space reserved for executive chefs who supervise and train sous chefs, line cooks, and other kitchen employees. Since recruiting and retaining quality staff is essential in any restaurant, creating an incentive program that is monitored and carried out by executive chefs can only benefit your business. To this end, your kitchen floor design should leave a walking room for the boss who supervises everything that goes on.
A healthy portion of your restaurant’s energy costs can be traced to your kitchen, so you need to introduce energy-efficient design features, like keeping cold storage away from heat sources, and placing cooking areas as close to exhaust hoods as possible. If you’re building a restaurant from scratch, you need a turn-key contractor, like these Sydney-based commercial builders, who employ in-house teams of architects, plumbers, and electricians, ensuring your kitchen design combines functionality and style that maximises the value of the property.
By placing an island at the centre of the kitchen, you allow chefs to assemble in the same area and ensure smooth handoffs from sous chefs to cooks to serving teams. The kitchen island design also enables executive chefs to supervise the entire meal preparation process by simply walking around. While servers are in charge of expoing their food, many courses require the participation of different stations, all of which can be solved by a kitchen island design.
Assembly line configuration
A popular arrangement in express service and casual fast food restaurants like Saloniki and Chipotle, the assembly line layout invites patrons to customize and upgrade their meal of choice as they move along. This layout often employs the back area for meal preparation and the front area where employees serve the meals into trays. Restaurants with assembly line-style serving kitchens often have a customer-facing POS terminal at the end of the line, but also need to fulfill many online orders.
Prep-based kitchen layout
Derived from the assembly line layout, this arrangement is popular with full-service and fine dining restaurants who emphasize on the importance of food preparation experience. In restaurants that use this kitchen layout, such as Barcelona Wine Bar in Norwalk, Connecticut, they’ve simplified the process by reducing the number of sauté pans in favour of traditional Iberian planchas. A large amount of meat and cheese platters are prepared with traditional slicers.
Open kitchen arrangement
Popular among restaurants of fine dining, the open kitchen configuration allows restaurant patrons to watch the chefs as they prepare their meals. Drawing its inspiration from traditional Japanese robatayaki-style grill houses where diners are seated at a semi-circular counter facing the charcoal grill serviced by the chef standing on the other side, modern open kitchens often feature a glass partition and serving stations facing the dining area. While on one hand, this might motivate your chefs to cook higher quality meals, it also exposes your patrons to the unique chaotic ecosystem of the kitchen.
While these nine tips for organising a functional and expedient kitchen floor layout might serve as general guidelines, make sure you consult the people who know more about what works and what doesn’t – the chefs and restaurateurs who spend the better part of their day in your kitchen.