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Commercial Kitchen Design

November 4, 2015

For anyone considering a professional kitchen installation there are a number of pre-requisites that are important to consider. There is a general rule that whatever the style of kitchen, the larger the operation the more elements and services have to be contemplated regarding its development.

Primarily there are three main considerations in a commercial kitchen that dictate what should be incorporated into its design.

1          The Service Requirement:

When installing for commercial purposes it is vital to consider the service the kitchen has to provide  such as numbers being served, whether there is an a la carte menu, silver service or cafeteria style etc?

2          Available Space:

For an installer, space will dictate what can and can’t be achieved in respect of the first point.  Is there sufficient space to fit in all the necessary equipment?  The necessary equipment actually is quite a substantial list.

3          Budget:

Once the first two points have been clarified it is then essential to look at whether it is financially achievable.  An accurate idea of available spend will eliminate costly mistakes further down the line.


The design process should never progress unless there is a clear understanding of all these considerations, which can then be structured around the need to provide the required service.  The installation must also satisfy the basic codes of practice regarding food hygiene and handling as well as complying with statutory legislation.

Risk assessments are naturally vital for any kitchen design project to ensure that any shortfalls have been considered such as cross contamination possibilities.

Efficient workflow design is imperative with ergonomic solutions built in accordingly.  Main areas for consideration should be:



Goods vehicles will need adequate access to the premises to be able to provide direct deliveries to the catering area.

Bulk storage should also be close to the goods-in area so there’s no need for delivery personnel to physically enter the kitchen and food preparation areas. Never underestimate the need to allow adequate space for dry, chilled and frozen goods because many suppliers have minimum drop requirements.


To maintain a good workflow pattern the main preparation area should be positioned between bulk storage and the cooking process, with segregation between different processes where possible. For high risk food environments, if possible consider allowing for a number of chilled preparation areas. If the establishment has restricted premises then stringent regimes must be employed to ensure that utensils and tables are suitably sanitised. Furthermore it is important when looking at designs to consider adequate refrigerated storage for prepared food.


The requirements of the menu and the ability of the staff will determine what cooking equipment will be necessary for a commercial installation. Highly automated, modern equipment such as programmable combi-ovens, pressure bratt pans and computerised deep-fat fryers may not always be appropriate for the style and content of some menus. That said, high tech equipment should never be underestimated when considering cost control and energy savings.

Safety has to be the first priority followed by workflow when it comes to the layout of a professional kitchen. Consideration should be given to the little things that make life safer for the kitchen team, such as a set-down space next to deep-fat fryers, never sitting a fryer at the end of a run, and always allowing a minimum of 900mm corridor (at least), to the front of any cooking equipment.

Evaluating amenities such as gas and electricity supplies is equally important as it is not always possible to connect gas in a building or there may restrictions due to the size of the incoming electrical supply.

Food Service Area

Frequently service space requirement is underestimated greatly particularly by architects. Whether the operation is waited service or tray-line style, you can minimise queuing by the provision of multi pick-up and service points. It is imperative to incorporate an adequate amount of space for holding hot and cold prepared food that is ready for service. If the site is large then counters may need to be replenished several times during a service period. In an la carte restaurant, allow sufficient space for plating up and hot pass.


The wash-up area is nearly always undersized by designers, but dishwashing is a fundamental aspect relating to the success of any catering establishment. If this area is planned inefficiently it will fail resulting in a restaurant that will not be able to function.

In order to allocate the right amount of space there are a number of things that must be considered including the capacity of the dishwasher and the ancillary sorting space.  Crockery, cutlery and hollow-ware items including trays should be calculated for the service period. Reputable dishwasher manufacturers can and will help regarding this, ultimately providing the correct size system and machine for the premises.

Enough space should be allocated for storing clean items and rubbish disposal to ensure that cross-contamination is avoided.

The location of the washing up area is essential to efficiently manage the space, being close to both the restaurant and the service area to avoid double handling.

Ideally a ventilation engineer should be consulted regarding the amount of steam and moist air that is produced.


An outside refuse bay that is situated well away from the kitchen entrance should be considered as it is imperative to allow for a clearly defined route for dirty dishes that won’t conflict with preparation and service areas in any modern, professional kitchen.

Staff facilities

Keeping the team happy is a big part of the job and they should have appropriately sized facilities for changing as well as locker areas and toilets that are separate but available near the kitchen facilities.


Today environmental issues are  becoming increasingly important to consider.  Energy efficient equipment that reduce fuel costs will also make a considerable positive impact on the budgetary implications of the kitchen as a whole.

Other areas which can become more energy efficient include volumes of water used and it is always good to check out the standards and energy efficient ratings of each machine installed.

For those visiting the restaurant, then any ‘green’ policies always go down well.  Evaluate the possibilities for recycling bottles, aluminium, plastic and paper in a designated recycling area.

Check with the local authority’s clean air and lighting policies when planning and invite the local EHO in to evaluate all designs before proceeding with any installation project.

Building Products

Finally, one area that probably needs no introduction is the fabric of the building for the commercial kitchen.  However, it is vital to make sure that the floors are non-slip and easy to maintain.  Likewise, walls and ceilings should be easy to clean.

Fundamentally, a good kitchen design is one that best suits the limits of the space and the budget without it having an unfavourable effect on the overall service of the finished project.


Helen Duval 2015


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