The layout of your kitchen can make or break your entire restaurant operation. Without careful layout planning, your kitchen staff may end up running around unnecessarily, delaying orders and leaving customers unsatisfied.
While it might seem like a trivial arrangement of kitchen equipment and cooking stations, a restaurant kitchen layout is actually quite challenging for chefs and restaurateurs. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, as your design depends on several factors. Let's start with those.
When people say the kitchen is the heart of a restaurant, it's only partly true. Because the truth is, the menu is the true heart and soul of any food operation. After all, your kitchen exists to bring it into reality.
Therefore, it only makes sense that your restaurant kitchen plan should follow your menu. What equipment you'll get, how large a space you’ll need, and even the kitchen staff you'll hire will depend on the food you intend to serve.
For instance, if you plan to serve pizza, you'll need to account for the space that a pizza oven will occupy. You'll also need ample space for staff to prepare the dough if you're making it in-house.
It's always a good idea to involve your head chef or culinary team when drafting your commercial kitchen plan. After all, they’ll be the ones using it.
Any commercial kitchen floor plan is composed of five key areas or stations. How they're laid out will spell success or failure for your operation.
These areas include:
This is where you store all ingredients, kitchen equipment, and non-food supplies vital to your operation. Since storage conditions are different for each category (frozen meat vs. dry goods, for example), you need to provide ample space for organization. At its most basic level, allot enough room for fridges and freezers, pantries for dry goods, cupboards for storing equipment, and a utility closet for cleaning materials and miscellaneous items.
Cleanliness is the top priority of any kitchen. Achieving that means providing enough space for cleaning dishes, pots, and pans properly. At the very least, you should provide room for a three-compartment sink and drying racks.
This is where your staff prepares ingredients for cooking. The space you'll need will depend on the food you serve, but at the minimum, you'll need a countertop for slicing ingredients. Other activities, such as making bread or pasta from scratch, will need their own dedicated space.
This is the most prominent part of a commercial kitchen setup. The space allotted depends on which equipment you need, which in turn depends on your menu and seating capacity.
For instance, if your dining room capacity is at 100 diners, you would need more stoves to cater to them than if you only had 50-person seating.
This is where the assembly and plating of the final dish happens. Thus, it should be placed the closest to the dining area to minimize serving time and walking distance for staff. This also reduces the risk of dishes being knocked to the ground by busy kitchen staff.
While it's often the smallest portion of a commercial kitchen layout, you should still measure it appropriately, depending on your expected dining capacity. A service area that's too small will slow down your service during busy times.
A kitchen with a good flow means staff and ingredients move from one area to another effortlessly and logically. Flow is vital to promote clear communication and coordination in the kitchen, as well as preventing accidents.
To achieve flow, different stations and areas should be placed next to each other logically to support workflow. For instance, when making pizza, the ingredients must move from storage to prep to cooking and service in one direction and not cross over other stations.
Kitchens will undoubtedly form the bulk of your utility expenses, both in the form of electricity (for chillers and freezers) and gas (for stoves and ovens). However, you can help minimize this by optimizing the placement of your equipment.
For instance, you should place the fridge as far away from heat-generating appliances (like the stove) as possible. This helps them maintain their temperature with minimal energy expenditure.
Finally, your commercial kitchen design must comply with all local health and building codes. This helps you get licenses and permits much faster. You should consider aspects of your kitchen that go beyond food safety, such as fire safety and waste disposal.
The good news is that you don't need to reinvent the wheel when designing your commercial kitchen layout. You can base your layout on the proven methods used by other successful restaurants. Here are some examples:
This is one of the most straightforward kitchen layouts that will work well in most situations. In this setup, all stations involved with food, such as preparation and cooking, are located on an "island" in the middle of the kitchen, hence the name.
This is a classic layout that most hotels and fine dining restaurants use. As the name suggests, the kitchen is divided into zones that are dedicated to a particular activity. For instance, you can have pastry zones, salad zones, and meat zones. The main benefit of this layout is that it allows your kitchen to produce a wide variety of menu items.
In a galley layout, all stations are arranged next to each other and placed on only one side of the kitchen. This helps maximize small spaces while promoting a good flow between stations. Food trucks, for example, often adopt a galley layout.
This layout mimics the assembly line in a factory. Here, stations are arranged in a single row that facilitates the assembly for a dish from preparation to serving. In contrast to the zoning layout, the assembly line layout is best for serving limited menus at high volumes, such as fast food establishments.
This layout emphasizes the flow and comfort of your staff more than anything else. As such, stations are placed intelligently next to each other to minimize staff movement. All equipment and ingredients are also within easy reach from all stations. The downside to an ergonomic layout is that it often requires a much bigger kitchen space.
This layout isn't much of a setup as it is a change in perspective. An open layout simply means that there's no wall separating the kitchen and dining areas so that diners can see the kitchen in action. Any kitchen layout can be turned into an open kitchen.
Open kitchens are great for providing another layer of experience to diners. Chefs can interact freely with customers as well.
The main challenge of most restaurants is making the most of limited kitchen spaces. Unfortunately, bigger kitchens can be costly in terms of rent. What's more, it might be more financially viable to allot more space to the dining area so you can accommodate a larger capacity of diners.
The key to making small kitchens work is good flow. With the limited space available, the movement of staff and dishes within the kitchen must be highly efficient and well thought of. Fire safety, comfort, and communication must also be considered.
Fortunately, some kitchen layout examples are geared more towards smaller spaces. We'll discuss some of these below.
The galley layout is one of the best options for a kitchen with tight spaces. The layout is more straightforward as everything is placed in a row against one wall of the kitchen, which makes the most sense with limited space.
The line configuration promotes a good flow of ingredients from one station to the other. There's also less need for staff to walk around to get their job done.
The next best layout for smaller spaces is an open kitchen. Without any walls, you can maximize the space of your kitchen AND your dining room. For example, one side of your kitchen can also function as a dining table. An open layout is also much more comfortable for your kitchen staff because they won't feel cramped.
The assembly layout is a versatile setup that can work with limited spaces as well. You can see this in action with smaller fast food restaurants like Subway, where the front counter functions both as the food prep area and the checkout.
Because they don't require dining areas, catering kitchens have the advantage of bigger spaces and more room for food preparation. Here are some of the best layouts for these kinds of kitchens:
This layout is the perfect setup for the demands of a catering operation. Zoning promotes specialization, so that kitchen staff are only working on specific dishes or tasks. Different areas can also be reconfigured to accommodate various dishes or cooking methods, expanding the versatility of the catering kitchen.
The ergonomic layout helps make kitchen staff more comfortable, which is essential when dealing with catering operations' grueling hours and labor. The wider spaces and good flow also minimizes staff movement, saving time and effort to get a job done.
No matter how efficient your restaurant kitchen layout is, it's useless if it can't deliver dishes to diners on time. That's why a good restaurant POS platform like Revel is vital. With it, your front-of-house and kitchen staff will always be on top of customer orders, ensuring a proper flow from kitchen to table. Contact us today to learn more about our cloud-native POS platform.