Your Guide to Modern Commercial Kitchen Layout, Design, & Style

The kitchen is the hub of any professional restaurant and as such, it needs to have an efficient, effective layout that includes all the must-have kitchen essentials. Once you’ve taken care of the core considerations of your kitchen — meaning the absolute bare minimum items that every kitchen needs — it’s time to decide on the best layout for your available space. The Kitchen Spot has compiled this guide to help you determine which kitchen layout design will be best for your needs.

Core Considerations of a Modern Kitchen

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When you are thinking about your restaurant kitchen plans, a few core inclusions are considered non-negotiables. First and foremost, ensure that the layout of your kitchen will be safe for your employees to work in. Next, you’ll need to focus on your food and preparation areas as well as a quality control plan. Finally, think about your storage spaces and the actual cooking area and you’ll be well on your way figuring out which layout design will best fit your vision for your restaurant kitchen.

Safety First

One of the most important things you need to consider for your kitchen design is that it is safe for employees. When designing the kitchen layout, ensure that you have an ergonomic design. If the kitchen staff is having to continually twist, stretch, or reach across cooking spaces to access the things they need, these repetitive motions could result in physical pain. Additionally, cooks and chefs could be burned by leaning over hot cooking spots, so ensure that this does not happen when you are laying out your restaurant kitchen.

You also need to think about the safety equipment that you’ll include in your kitchen. Anti-slip mats are a necessity in a professional kitchen due to the high-traffic work environment. You should also think about adding anti-fatigue mats, or mats that offer both functions, to keep your employees comfortable and safe.

Food and Preparation

A restaurant can’t deliver delicious meals if it doesn’t have proper food storage and preparation spaces. At a minimum, your kitchen should have one refrigerator and one freezer as separate units to accommodate all of the food you’ll have. If you have enough space, consider one fridge for fruits and vegetables, one for dairy, and one for meats.

When this is not possible, ensure that the food in your fridge is separated and organized based on the temperature to which it should be cooked. That means that foods that require no cooking would be at the top of the fridge and then everything would move down based on cooking temperature, ending with meats at the bottom.

Quality Control

The best way to keep your food safe and prevent your customers from experiencing food-borne illnesses is to have a quality control system in place. Food and ingredients need to be properly stored and labeled as they enter the fridge, freezer, or pantry. Ensure that you have labels that are easily accessible and take the time to train all of your staff members on how to store and label all food items to keep them safe.

Additionally, you should have a standardized plan for rotating your food and ingredients and regularly clear things out as well as keeping the kitchen clean and safe for food preparation.

Smart Storage Space

Not everything in your modern, commercial kitchen will be on the counter and in use simultaneously. Therefore, it’s a good move to create adequate storage space for all your kitchen items when they are not in action. If your current kitchen space does not have shelving or storage areas, invest in high-quality shelves for easy access to appliances and other cookware. Additionally, you’ll want to get containers and lids to ensure everything is properly stored and covered.

Meal Cooking

Perhaps the most important part of your kitchen is the meal cooking area because that is where all the physical work happens. This area should include your stove, oven, or range as well as all of your cooking utensils, pots, and pans. Keeping all of these items in the same area keeps the layout of your restaurant kitchen more concise and makes the cooking process easier and faster.

Additionally, put your meal cooking area next to your meal preparation area. That way, you’ll create a smooth transition between each station and achieve maximum efficiency.

Types of Layouts

When you are planning how to lay out your restaurant kitchen, available space determines which layouts you can easily accommodate. There are five typical layouts that all commercial kitchens follow but some layouts need more space than others. Additionally, depending on the types of food you are planning on serving, one layout may suit you better than another. Consider the options below to see which option is best for your restaurant kitchen.

Zone-Style Layout

As the name implies, a zone-style layout breaks down the kitchen into different zones for each process in a restaurant kitchen. While these are typically broken down into core areas — like inventory storage, food prep, meal cooking, service area, and a dishwashing station — you could also include additional areas for frying, baking, and a soup and salad station if you have the space and a need for those zones.

Island Layout

An island layout is good for a commercial restaurant design if there is more space in the kitchen. With this kitchen design, the primary cooking appliances are centered in the middle of the room on an island with all of the core zones in a “ring” around the island.

Open Kitchen Layout

Open kitchens allow your customers to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the food is made. This also brings entertainment value to your restaurant and creates an exciting experience for your customers. Open layouts are a great option for high-end restaurants or buildings with less space.

Galley Layout

For small, narrow restaurant kitchens, a galley layout is your best bet. Under this design, all equipment and stations line the perimeter of the kitchen, leaving the center clear for cooks and kitchen staff. Another option is to line only one wall with equipment if the kitchen space is extra small.

Assembly Line Layout

An assembly line operates with each station completing one step before passing it to the next station. In a restaurant kitchen, food prep would be at the first station, followed by cooking, and then the serving station where food goes out to the customers. Other core areas, such as the inventory/storage and dishwashing station, would still be in the kitchen but not included in the assembly line.

Innovative Features in a Modern Commercial Kitchen

Once you’ve decided on the perfect layout and design for your restaurant kitchen, there are additional items that you should consider adding to the space to make running your restaurant more efficient. Take a look at some of these innovative features below.

Digital POS System

A point-of-sale (POS) system is crucial to helping your restaurant run more efficiently. This small device packs a big punch with all of the features it offers for customer experience and business functionality. POS software allows customers to order food and pay for their meals directly from their table via a tablet or tabletop device.

The software also records sales trends, helps with inventory management, and gives you a better overall picture of your restaurant. Another added feature is that POS systems can also help you with marketing and customer information so that you have a better idea of your target demographic. If you don’t have a POS system or weren’t considering getting one, reconsider and invest in this technology as soon as possible.

Food Safety Management System

You’re opening a restaurant because you are passionate about delivering high-quality food to your customers. One part of doing that is to ensure that your ingredients and food are safe to eat. With a food safety management system in place, you can easily assess the safety and hygiene of your food and help you maintain high-quality standards in your restaurant kitchen.

Remote-Controlled Appliances

Technology is constantly evolving and that includes the technology for your kitchen appliances. Things like your oven or stove can be remotely controlled by a smartphone app. Preheat your oven or change the temperature, get a fridge with a camera inside so you can check what things you actually need to order during inventory, and more. If you are looking for the convenience of remote-control technology, you can find appliances that accommodate your needs.

Kitchen Display System

Most modern restaurants use a kitchen display system to streamline the food ordering process. Don’t rely on paper tickets or kitchen printers when you can easily have all of your menu items in a digital system. Additionally, a display system helps ensure that all meals for one table are ready at the same time, even if they have different cooking times.

Smart Oven

As mentioned above about remote-controlled appliances, there are ovens out there that can easily be controlled from your smartphone. You can preheat your oven on your way into work so that it is ready to go for all your cooking needs. You can also easily adjust any settings or timers, get cooking notifications right on your phone, or connect to a smart assistant for voice controls. Smart ovens can make your cooking experience that much easier.

Digital Inventory Tracking/Automated Purchasing

Maintaining inventory and purchasing items for your restaurant kitchen can seem like a daunting task. However, times have changed and there are apps and devices that can easily accommodate inventory and purchasing for you. These systems are easily programmable for everyday items as well as special order or non-stock items that you don’t always need to purchase.

Kiosks/Tabletop Tablets

Just as a POS system can be used on a kiosk or tabletop table, there are services that can be utilized on these devices as well. Guests can check in on a kiosk or order their food before picking it up at the counter. With tabletop versions, customers can also play games, order food, pay their bill, or call their server all in one place. Kiosks and tablets make things easier and smoother for your employees and create a better customer experience for your guests.

Start Laying Out Your Restaurant Kitchen

When building your restaurant kitchen from the ground up or renovating an existing space, the right layout is critical to your success. With an optimized layout and design, your kitchen will be as functional and efficient as possible. Get in touch with a Kitchen Spot Expert to learn more today.