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How To Set Up A Small Restaurant Kitchen

3 Oct 2023, 11:36 AM

How To Set Up A
Small Restaurant
Kitchen

When setting up a small restaurant kitchen, it is vital to ensure that you take every element into account. Not having the space and staff associated with a large restaurant means that every area needs to be well thought out and designed with practicality in mind. Here, we explore each consideration you should make in planning and setting up a small restaurant or commercial kitchen, from designing the space and creating the perfect menu to the equipment necessary for success.

Preparing Your Ideal Menu

As you begin to plan your kitchen and what you wish to offer to your guests, one of the first things on your mind will be the type of cuisine you wish to provide. 

Each type of cuisine might require specific equipment. For example, a sushi bar would need a rice cooker and possibly a special sushi refrigerator. In contrast, a pizzeria would require a pizza oven and dough mixer. Assessing these needs in advance can ensure that your kitchen is properly equipped for your menu.

When you plan your menu, you will be able to fully grasp what your kitchen will need in order to achieve your aims. This will help you to understand the equipment and supplies necessary to fulfil the menu, as well as give you an idea of the staff you will need.

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Mapping Out Your Space

The journey to constructing a fully functional small restaurant kitchen begins with a meticulous layout plan. By visualising the arrangement of each element, you lay the foundation for a streamlined workflow.

With limited square footage, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of essentials you need to incorporate. Therefore, it's prudent to adopt a 'less is more' philosophy. Prioritise versatile equipment that serves multiple purposes, allowing for increased functionality without the spatial burden. Begin by taking precise measurements of the area. This aids in gauging how the kitchen’s ergonomics will play out, ensuring every nook and corner is utilised to its fullest potential.

In the realm of commercial kitchens, free movement is the linchpin of efficiency. Maximising this space is crucial, not just for the ease of workflow, but also for safety. It's worth considering space-saving solutions, such as foldable tables or retractable shelves, which can be expanded or collapsed as needed. Such strategies significantly diminish the odds of unfortunate mishaps, such as collisions, spills, or accidents, fostering a safe and productive environment.

The placement of equipment isn't solely a question of convenience or efficiency – it's also about compliance. Critical zones, like food preparation areas, must be judiciously distanced from potential contamination sources, such as waste disposal zones or sinks. Additionally, consider installing clear signage or colour-coded sections to help staff identify and respect these separate zones. Local health regulations, overseen by your council's environmental health department, will have specific stipulations in this regard. By being mindful of these, you ensure your kitchen is not only efficient but also adheres to health standards and local guidelines.

Creating Kitchen Zones

Creating specific zones within a restaurant kitchen can boost efficiency during service and save space. For example, zone kitchens should have plenty of free counters so that food preparation can be unobstructed. 

The amount of cooking equipment you have will depend on your menu, and the cooking zone could simply have a grill and oven with burners, or you may need multiple industrial ovens. Another zone will contain your storage and sanitation items.

Kitchen zones can be a good idea for restaurants with multiple dishes, whereas if you are creating a large amount of the same meal (such as sandwiches or pizzas), then an assembly line may be more efficient. This can take the form of a circle in tight spaces.

Whichever type of kitchen works best for you, you will need to have clear guidance on where each member of your kitchen team works in order to create a clean and consistent workflow. Having your main preparation area in the centre of your kitchen (in an island setup) can also work well for small spaces, as you can save the perimeter of your space for storage areas, sanitation areas, and placing plates of prepared food.

Essential Restaurant Equipment

If you are working in a small space, having the right restaurant equipment and appliances is more vital than ever. We examine some restaurant essentials and take a look at how you can fit them into your area.

Storage Space

Storage is paramount in any kitchen. Especially for smaller establishments, optimising storage can make a world of difference. Cold storage options, such as commercial freezers and refrigerators, can vary from walk-in to reach-in designs. For those with space constraints, an under-the-counter model might be the ideal choice. Similarly, dry storage can benefit from under-counter solutions. It's crucial to evaluate your menu and assess how many bulky items you'll be stocking. To maximise your vertical space, consider installing tall shelves or hanging storage solutions. This not only provides more room but also ensures essential items are within arm's reach. Additionally, worktop storage is a plausible option if walk-ins aren't part of your setup. Such surfaces can conveniently house dry goods, either within cabinets or on open shelving. Remember to reserve under-counter areas, not just for appliances, but also for commercial tools when they're not active. This strategic placement ensures your counter remains uncluttered, ready for food prep and cleaning.

Cooking Equipment

Most restaurants require various cooking equipment. The key is accessibility and efficiency. In more compact spaces, a commercial oven equipped with top burners is often the most practical choice. Some ovens even incorporate overhead storage, which can be a real boon. The list might expand to encompass bread or pizza ovens, microwaves, toasters, and a gamut of utensils and cookware.

When selecting these essential items, prioritise energy efficiency. Efficient appliances not only reduce monthly bills but also mitigate excessive heat, ensuring a comfortable working environment. Position your equipment methodically. For small-scale operations, you might not require industrial-sized gadgets. Designate zones to minimise movement, making sure chefs have everything they need within a step or two.

Sanitary Products

Sanitation is non-negotiable. Investing in a dishwasher, whether a full-size or an under-counter model, can be a game-changer, especially during peak hours. Tailor your choice to the nature of your business. For instance, if you're leaning more towards takeouts, a compact dishwasher would suffice.

The placement of sinks can drastically affect your kitchen’s efficiency. Establish distinct areas for each sink – one for handwashing, another for food preparation, one for cleaning, and another for waste disposal and pot cleaning. Thoughtful placement, like positioning a janitorial sink near your cleaning supplies, not only conserves space but also streamlines operations.

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Creating specific zones within a restaurant kitchen can boost efficiency during service and save space. For example, zone kitchens should have plenty of free counters so that food preparation can be unobstructed. 

The amount of cooking equipment you have will depend on your menu, and the cooking zone could simply have a grill and oven with burners, or you may need multiple industrial ovens. Another zone will contain your storage and sanitation items.

Kitchen zones can be a good idea for restaurants with multiple dishes, whereas if you are creating a large amount of the same meal (such as sandwiches or pizzas), then an assembly line may be more efficient. This can take the form of a circle in tight spaces.

Whichever type of kitchen works best for you, you will need to have clear guidance on where each member of your kitchen team works in order to create a clean and consistent workflow. Having your main preparation area in the centre of your kitchen (in an island setup) can also work well for small spaces, as you can save the perimeter of your space for storage areas, sanitation areas, and placing plates of prepared food.


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