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The Blueprint of An Efficient Restaurant Kitchen

A good restaurant relies on both an expertly-skilled staff and a well-designed kitchen to provide quality service to its customers. Restaurant kitchens, unlike their home counterparts, are designed to accommodate high-level food preparation and operation. It's no surprise that restaurateurs are proud of their kitchens when it's both efficient and aesthetically pleasing.

This infographic provides a blueprint for planning an efficient restaurant kitchen—from the must-haves to key characteristics that elevate the design.

Restaurant Kitchen Must-Haves

Every restaurant kitchen is composed of several essential elements that make it possible for staff to create dishes and accomplish other kitchen-related tasks.

  • Walkable paths/ways

A lot of movement occurs in a restaurant kitchen—cleaning, inventory stocking, cooking, plating, and more. Establishing walkable paths makes it easier for staff to move around without colliding into one another or disrupting the kitchen workflow. 

Clear paths from the kitchen to the service area—where food exits the kitchen to be served to customers—are essential to promptly and safely deliver orders.

  • Set fixtures and appliances

Kitchen appliances like refrigerators, stoves, ovens, and the like are essential to any restaurant. Depending on the scale of operations and planned menu, dishwashing fixtures, fryers, and other specialized fixtures may also be necessary for the kitchen. 

Commercial-sized appliances will require installation, making it essential to decide on a restaurant kitchen layout that places them in the most effective positions possible.

  • Interior features

A restaurant kitchen is nothing without key interior features like counter spaces, bars, shelving, and storage solutions. Cooking, food preparation, and other essential work need these features to provide space for working and holding necessary items in a place that is easily accessible during operations.

  • Windows and doors

Windows and doors play a vital role in connecting the back of house staff with those in front of the house, as well as providing the direction for how the food leaves the kitchen and how used dining ware returns to it. Taking these windows and doors into consideration when constructing the restaurant kitchen layout can boost efficiency in the long run.

  • Tables for preparation

Food preparation is an important step in the overall process of creating dishes. Having dedicated areas and tables for it makes it easier to stay organized, avoid contamination or spillage, and improve the kitchen workflow. Depending on the kitchen's size and other needs, these tables can either be fixed or mobile through wheeled tables.

  • Washing area

Aside from creating dishes, a restaurant kitchen needs to be able to clean up after meals. A dishwashing area ensures that the dining ware is properly washed for the next use. This area can also be used to wash produce, cooking and food preparation tools, and other items that need to be cleaned to ensure good sanitary conditions.

Popular Restaurant Kitchen Layouts

Deciding on a restaurant kitchen layout is dependent on the type of food preparation your staff will be doing in the kitchen. Below are a few of the popular formats to consider:

  • Assembly line

In this layout, cooking, food preparation, and service are concentrated on a central row or island. The workflow begins at one end of the row and ends with a completed dish ready to be served. 

An assembly line makes it easier to create the same types of dishes repeatedly, as each staff member is focused on one or two parts of the process. This layout also reduces the amount of movement within the kitchen since food is passed from one station to another. 

This type is often used for fast-food establishments or restaurants with limited menus of similarly-prepared dishes like pizza parlors.

  • Zone-style

Also known as a "station layout," this type focuses on establishing zones where specific kitchen activities or types of dishes are prepared. Essential aspects like cooking, food preparation, service, dishwashing, and inventory are clearly and neatly organized. If the focus is on types of dishes, zones can be separated into specific actions like frying, baking, meat handling, and so on.

Zone-style allows staff to prepare a variety of dishes at the same time without sacrificing efficiency and organization. Because of this, the layout is best for restaurants with a larger staff and diverse menus. It is also ideal for larger kitchens, such as those for event spaces and catering services.

  • Island-style

This restaurant kitchen layout takes its name from the central fixture in its design: the kitchen island. The kitchen island in the center is established for either cooking or food preparation, with other stations for storage, washing, and additional preparations along the kitchen's perimeter. 

In the island-style layout, the island acts as the "command center," where all dishes pass through, creating a circular workflow that is smooth and uninterrupted. From there, supervising chefs can monitor operations effectively, and staff can easily communicate with one another.

Depending on what to prepare, It is possible to put a different function on the island and relegate cooking and preparation along the perimeters. This layout is best for big kitchens, as the island may become an obstacle to movement if the space isn't large enough.

  • Gallery

Designed for limited kitchen spaces, the gallery layout places all the stations and equipment along the kitchen's perimeter. If there is enough space to allow for a ring layout—having stations on nearly all sides—the staff can easily rotate to work on multiple stations at once. On the other hand, if the kitchen is small, kitchen equipment is limited to two parallel walls.

The gallery layout focuses on multitasking and maximizing the available resources and staff. This restaurant kitchen layout best suits food establishments with tight spaces and limited staff, such as food trucks or stalls.

Characteristics of an Efficient Restaurant Kitchen

Capable staff and good layout and design all contribute to the efficiency of a restaurant kitchen. Key characteristics of an efficient restaurant kitchen include:

  • Smooth workflow

An efficient restaurant kitchen design enables uninterrupted workflow, allowing staff to create dishes and accomplish other kitchen tasks without problems. A vital part of this workflow is ensuring that each aspect of the kitchen operations—such as meal cooking, food preparation, washing, and storage—is established. 

Regardless of the restaurant kitchen layout, these aspects require a place within the overall design. Even with smaller kitchens and multitasking spaces, a smooth and effective workflow entails that all these aspects are adequately addressed in the most efficient way possible.

  • Better training of staff

A good restaurant kitchen contains everything essential for cooking and other back of house jobs. To top it off, these aspects are contained within a layout that improves efficiency. 

Training staff within an efficient kitchen is often easier, as the restaurant kitchen layout creates a logical workflow that newcomers can pick up on. Additionally, an efficient restaurant kitchen is well-organized that even if there are stations or areas used for multiple tasks, staff can still clearly identify which aspect of kitchen work they are used for.

  • Easier access to specific kitchen equipment

Picture a day in your restaurant kitchen: chefs, cooks, and other staff are moving around to accomplish their tasks. What do they need to get the work done? How accessible are the tools and equipment they need? One thing that efficient restaurant kitchens have mastered is creating easier access to specific kitchen equipment. 

How restaurant equipment is stored and positioned in relation to the kitchen's overall layout and workflow makes all the difference in elevating operational efficiency. As a result, the kitchen becomes more ergonomic, enabling staff to do their jobs effectively in the least amount of time possible.

  • Good ventilation

Cooking in an enclosed space can be difficult without good ventilation. Aside from making it difficult for staff to breathe, the lack of air circulation can make various smells and odors more persistent. These odors can compromise the quality of the dishes being served to customers. 

Installing range fans and hoods can minimize odor problems, while fans and air purifiers can improve air circulation and reduce the discomfort from working in a hot kitchen. These fans and hoods should be regularly maintained to ensure that they are operating properly and consistently.

Good Service Starts in the Kitchen

Designing an efficient restaurant kitchen is all about attention to detail. The fundamental aspects of kitchen operations, the appliances and equipment necessary, and the way each kitchen task is performed—all of these things should inform a restaurant kitchen's layout and design. From there, skilled staff can work efficiently and quickly to provide high-quality service.

Shop with Charlie's Fixtures for kitchen, catering, and restaurant equipment that best suit your needs.

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