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How To Create Your Dream Restaurant Kitchen

Whether you're a home cook who has been told that your cooking skills merit a restaurant, or you're an investor opening your first business, you'll quickly learn that creating a restaurant kitchen involves a lot more work and requires more technical information than a home kitchen design. Hiring the right contractor and knowing the equipment plays a large role. From the dishwasher to the executive chefs, these professionals have seen everything that can go wrong in a new kitchen. Here's how to make sure you wind up with the kitchen of your dreams and theirs.

Buy Reliable Equipment

In a commercial kitchen, if a piece of equipment goes down it can ruin your day and potentially your business. When a walk-in isn't working you're either offering a discount and hoping you can sell all your food quickly, or you're throwing it out. Either way, you're losing money and you'll lose business. Invest in quality pieces like True refrigeration to ensure that your business is always ready. 

Learn the Unique Equipment

Talk to any chef and he'll tell you stories of new restaurants with the salamanders installed upside down or deep friers that didn't align with the drain valves. Restaurants use equipment you won't see in most home kitchens. Learn about why you need a blast chiller. Do your research on how a salamander is installed or a deep fryer is cleaned.

You can see from the variety of equipment here that it's not only high-end restaurants using industrial sous vide cookers that need specialized equipment. You don't need every new and fancy piece of equipment but you need to have a menu in mind and know the equipment you'll need for both cooking and safety reasons. 

Bigger Isn't Better

Designing a commercial kitchen doesn't mean you need huge amounts of room; in fact, your cooks won't thank you if your kitchen means wasted motion. Look at your kitchen space, design your menu and then pick one of the typical kitchen layouts:

  • Island layout

  • Zone layout, or 

  • Assembly line layout. 

If you've already hired an executive or sous chef, work with him to design a kitchen that runs the way he is used to. An Island layout keeps cooking in the middle and prep on the outside. Make sure that you have enough space for two people to slide behind each other when working on the island and sidewalls. It's a style that works for a lot of different restaurants no matter the size of the menu.

A zone kitchen has space allocated according to job. The middle of the floor is open with each station jutting out toward the middle. Prep is handled in one area while the saucier and cooks each have a station based on the foods they are in charge of cooking. Finally, the service area is where the dish comes together before it's handed to the pass-through and your expediter. It keeps most kitchen staff in one area for their whole shift.

Finally, an assembly line layout is better for smaller kitchens with limited menus. If you're looking at a menu to rival The Cheesecake Factory, the assembly line is out, but if you want to offer only a few dishes, focus on pizza, or even open a sandwich shop, an assembly line will work for you. 

Get Feedback From the Pros

If you don't have staff hired, it doesn't mean you can't get feedback from kitchen pros. Ask around and most people know someone who has worked in a commercial kitchen. If you can't find someone you know, check in with a local culinary school and see if you can hire a staff member to talk you through your kitchen design. 

It's important that you continue to work with them through the whole process. You may get the layout right but equipment installed poorly or incorrectly can slow you down. With design and pro help through the whole process, you'll create a kitchen that will make you proud and that will attract the best staff. 



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