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HomeBrandingChoose from a variety of restaurant kitchen layouts

Choose from a variety of restaurant kitchen layouts

Many people have questions about commercial restaurant equipment, how to best use them, and how to set it up for daily cooking. How can you design a kitchen that is the most efficient?

This guide will cover the essentials, such as the main elements of restaurant design, and the different models that can be used as guidelines. This guide will also discuss some principles and considerations when approaching this type of project.

The Key Elements of Restaurant Layout and Design

These are the basic building blocks for a kitchen layout. A kitchen layout must have all these elements in order to work well. It also needs to be able to combine these areas according to the needs and preferences of those who will be using it.

Storage Stations

Think about storage in two ways. One, you can store food cold or dry, and one, you can store non-food items such as cleaning supplies, dishes, and take-out containers.

Once you have separated the non-food storage into separate zones, it is time to look at your cold storage and dry storage capacities. A walk-in refrigerator is a good option for cold storage. This allows you to keep perishables such as meat, neatly labeled and organized. Dry storage is for food items that are not perishable, such as beans, rice, flour, and other foods that can be kept at room temperatures. It is essential to have adequate shelving so that boxes and containers don't end up on the floor.

Food Prep Stations

It is also important to consider the areas where food preparation takes place. Consider where you will place washing sinks for produce, raw ingredients, and areas for handling meat. Countertop spaces can also be used by staff to cut, sort, and organize ingredients for the table.

Cooking stations

This is the heart of any kitchen operation. It's vital to pay attention to the design.

Your ranges, ovens, or other restaurant equipment will be the heart of your kitchen. You can separate or combine grilling and frying areas, as well as spaces for baking or enclosed-cooking operations. Restaurants often have additional cooking stations that allow you to 'finish' your food with a cheese melter or salamander, as well as other heating equipment.

Service Area

This is where the plates are to be placed.

This is an important aspect of restaurant design and layout. This is easier if you have a self-service buffet. You will need to make sure there is enough space for the warmer trays. This will allow staff to move around with the hot, steaming food.

If you run a traditional restaurant, you will need a space for delivery that is set up to provide efficient and expedited service. A busy kitchen can make it difficult for finished food to be delivered in the delivery area instead of being taken directly to the tables. You'll need enough space to make your delivery area prominent in your kitchen.

Cleaning Area

Cleaning is an important part of the kitchen. Although it is not something most people think about right away, it is crucial.

A great tip for cleaning your kitchen is to create a drop-off area that is separate from the rest of your kitchen.

People should be able to move quickly by the cleaning area, dump all dishes and other dirty items, and then return into the active cooking space without being held back by extra baggage.

It's one of our top tips for creating a great kitchen layout. We learned to position areas such as cleaning and delivery away from areas like cooking and food prep.

Example of a common layout for a restaurant

Let's now talk about the brave restaurant managers who have gone before us.

Yes, there are some models that people use when they think about what they want in the kitchen.

These are the basics of layout planning and design.

The Assembly Line Model

This arrangement is ideal for many service kitchens, where chefs and staff create identical plates for dozens to dozens of diners.

It is exactly what it sounds like: In the assembly line, prep cooks and service areas are located in a straight line, with cleaning, storage, and other areas behind the line. Delivery at the end.

This is a great way to quickly move food, but it can also be problematic for cleaning or other tasks.

The Island Model

All of the necessary stuff is located in the middle. The outside is your free-motion lane. Chefs who are going to be actively cooking will do so in the center of their kitchen. This is also true for those taking food from a walk-in, or sending it to the dishwasher.

Some planners find the consolidation of the island-style model attractive.

Zone-Style or Galley Kitchen Layout

The zone-style layout allows each part of the kitchen to be in its own space while combining them in an open plan.

Planners often refer to the "inverted Island" concept, where zone-style models place all of their gear against the walls and the middle of the kitchen is open for people to use. Another model is a galley-style one where all the gear can be against one or two walls and leaves the middle free. These models can be great for staff who are able to navigate the middle area and move between stations easily. You might consider a different model.

The Open Kitchen

Many diners find the open kitchen design appealing. The clean, modern, and well-functioning open kitchen impresses visitors. Visitors can look directly into the kitchen area as the food is being prepared.

It's best to make your food prep and cooking areas visible than your cleaning and storage areas. While it is possible for people to see someone taking something out of their walk-in, that should not be the main view. Your staff should be able to compete with the chefs, prep cooks, and other staff members.

The Essentials of Restaurant Layout

After you have considered all the layout options, let us now discuss the principles that support this type of kitchen design.

Space efficiency is the first. It doesn't matter what type of model you choose, space efficiency is essential. You need enough space to cook the amount of food you want, as well as enough space to store gear and station equipment for the staff you need to move. If you don't have a three-foot or more moving lane in one direction, you will run into problems.

Flexibility and modularity

We mentioned efficiency as an important principle. However, it is possible to have a flexible kitchen layout in order for this to be maintained. This means choosing portable equipment over fixed ones, having the ability to move countertops and other infrastructure when necessary, and having extra space you can expand into as your business grows. It takes some planning, but it can make a restaurant thriving.

Safety and Sanitation

Let's discuss the most important principle in restaurant operations. Safety and sanitation are what make the difference between a great kitchen and one that is unable to please diners.

Simply put, you don’t want to work in that restaurant. Safety and sanitation are two key elements. The first is to label and organize all components correctly. A second is the layout of your kitchen.


You can also use new technology to plan your restaurant layout. To save space, you can stack some of the items we have mentioned, such as salamanders or oven heaters, on top of other equipment.


Your kitchen layout should be ergonomic. This should guide your planning, including vertical planning.

Safety and occupational health agencies in the state often mention ergonomics as a key factor for worker safety. Line cooks and chefs are not the only ones who can suffer repetitive motion injuries from poorly installed equipment. This can cause severe injury to their health, as well as increase liability and cost to the restaurant.


In the restaurant industry, "Keep it simple" is a common mantra. You need to have enough sophistication and design to achieve your cooking goals. Simple is the key, even if you look at these simple layouts. During busy service times, you want to make sure everyone is clear on what is where and how it works.

Take a look at our great selection of restaurant equipment. At Kitchenall, we are "for the chef, by chef" and we are here to help you.

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