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Traditional vs. Modern Kitchens: How to Choose the Right Setup for Your Restaurant

Whether you are a would-be restaurateur or you already are, you perhaps picture how your kitchen should look like. You imagine the setup and the types of kitchen equipment you want to see in it. You also probably envision how to create a layout that’s both functional and comfortable to enable your team to work efficiently while having a pleasant time, too. 

In choosing a restaurant kitchen setup, it’s always a toss-up between modern and traditional kitchens. Do you want to go for something that has always worked well for kitchen crews, or do you prefer to try something new? 

To help you decide, this infographic will compare traditional and modern kitchens. It will provide thinking points to help you evaluate which setup is right for your restaurant.

 

Traditional vs. Modern Kitchens: How to Choose the Right Setup for Your Restaurant

The traditional kitchen is known for its elegant craftsmanship, refined details, and distinctive embellishments. It mixes stained wood and patterned stones to create a layered look. Reflecting a classic design, it is typically characterized by crown moldings, raised panel cabinets, arched doorways, beam ceilings, and even kitchen island legs.

In contrast, a modern kitchen is defined by a sleek, angular design. It usually features less hardware, flush doors, and flat surfaces. It also often has a steel finish and incorporates little to no décor.   

 

6 Differences Between Traditional and Modern Restaurant Kitchens

1. Overall Appearance

A traditional kitchen is recognizable with its decorative details. The setup is generally made of natural materials such as wood, and the elements often come in dark wood colors.

Meanwhile, a modern kitchen looks more streamlined. It usually incorporates a monochromatic color. It also features post-industrial materials, which often come in angular designs.   

2. Lighting

Richly ornamented pendant lighting adorns a traditional kitchen. As such, embellished chandeliers are usually installed, creating a formal look.

For modern kitchens, LED strip lights are often a fixture, rendering a minimalistic illumination. Alternatively, pendants in dark hues define the contemporary space, giving it an innovative finish.

3. Space for Movement

The elements in a traditional kitchen – from large counters to multiple cabinets – tend to limit the space for movement. Still, the setup allows for some flexibility, although it can be a little restricting.

On the other hand, a modern kitchen has more space for movement due to its streamlined structure. The horizontal placement of the elements maximizes the space between the sections, providing more room for activity.

4. Wall and Tabletop Finish

A traditional kitchen has a layered structure that often features a patterned wall usually made up of stone tiles. A countertop built from natural stone such as marble, granite, and slate is typically used to complete the classic look. The countertop often comes in either curved or tiered design, rendering a rustic appeal. 

Meanwhile, a modern kitchen has a simplified, contemporary finish with a backsplash that features ceramic mosaics, glass patterns, or metallic tiles. Likewise, the countertop is usually made from metal, concrete, or laminated sheets, conveying an ultramodern look.

5. Kitchen Equipment and Appliances

Traditional kitchens often have bulky appliances and equipment. In particular, the cooking range and refrigerators usually come in large sizes.  

In contrast, modern kitchens host smart, handleless appliances. Some items, like wall ovens, are also integrated into the cabinetry, providing a seamless structure to the overall kitchen design.

6. Cabinets and Storage

In a traditional kitchen, the cabinets are mainly made from oak or cherry, which are glazed to create an aged look. The shelves are framed and designed with raised panel doors and detailed ornamentation.

On the other hand, modern kitchen cabinets are more compact, often featuring straight edges, frosted glass doors, and sliding drawers. They are also usually made from metal, glass, or laminate materials.

 

Modern vs. Traditional Kitchen: How to Choose

These steps will help you zero in on the main factors to consider as you choose a setup for your restaurant kitchen.

1. Ask your chefs

When deciding on your restaurant setup, you must consult with your chefs first. They’re the ones who best understand the kind of space the team needs to be efficient in the kitchen. While you may want to get designers involved, the most important input you can gather should come from the people on the ground.

If you fail to seek suggestions from your chefs, you might end up getting the wrong equipment or hardware. The flow of the staff during operating hours may also be disorganized, contributing to the delay in the processes. In addition, the ratio of the kitchen to the front of the house will be disproportionate, creating insufficient space in the kitchen.

2. Know your menu

The menu is one important thing you should remember when choosing a kitchen layout. If you understand how the recipes are prepared, then you can come up with a setup that helps optimize kitchen processes. Keep in mind that if the kitchen structure doesn’t match the menu, achieving your operational goals can become challenging.

It helps to list all the dishes on your menu, including the ingredients for each recipe. Then, write down the steps involved and the equipment needed in preparing each meal. This information can help you decide how you should set up your kitchen, serving as a guide in identifying where you should place your counters, ovens, and other appliances.

3. Determine what you need

Part of the process in choosing a kitchen setup should be identifying your kitchenware needs based on your menu. Think about how you can make the appliances and equipment work double-time. Would it be better to use an immersion blender for soup and salsa instead of a standing blender?

Also, when determining what materials to buy for your kitchen, remember to include detailed measurements of all equipment – from food display and preparation to refrigeration and storage. This helps you avoid purchasing the wrong items that can potentially cost substantial financial losses.

Here’s a tip: Try browsing kitchen supply websites and see the specifications of each item. This way, you can assess which appliances and equipment best address your needs. If you prefer to purchase the materials online, be sure to clarify with the seller if the listing is updated and if the items listed are in stock. 

4. Consider the number of customers you service daily

The number of customers that visit your restaurant should also be one of your criteria when deciding which kitchen layout to adopt. Is there a substantial volume of people who dine at your restaurant every day? Or are you catering to a few guests?

Ideally, the more customers you have, the bigger your kitchen should be. If you serve a crowd of people daily and have a tiny kitchen, you may be missing out on additional revenue because the small space limits the movement and efficiency of your staff. On the contrary, if you cater to a few regular guests and have a large kitchen, you may be incurring unnecessary costs and risking the health of your cash flow.

5. Comply with health and sanitation standards

Don’t forget to factor in your state’s restaurant regulations when designing your kitchen. There are health codes that must be complied with, and you must get them accomplished. 

Regulations may govern the distance between a food preparation station and disposal drains or sinks. It can also cover the installation of grease traps and vents, the design and location of the food storage area, and the size and temperature capacity of hot water tanks, among others.

Check all permits and licenses required in setting up a restaurant kitchen, and be sure to have them processed before finalizing your kitchen plan. 

 

Choosing the Right Setup for Your Restaurant

While you might have your personal preference on what setup should be implemented for your restaurant, there are other factors you should consider when coming up with a kitchen design. In outlining your kitchen plan, remember to seek input from your chefs and consider the number of guests you serve. Be sure to comply with your state’s health and sanitation standards to ensure food safety, too.

If you’re in the process of revamping your kitchen or are searching for top-of-the-line restaurant equipment, check out our listing of fixtures, cookware, appliances, and many other restaurant kitchen supplies.


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