Designing a Functional Restaurant Kitchen

Many factors go into opening and running a restaurant, including designing a functional space for your customers to eat in and enjoy. However, there’s another space that’s just as important in your restaurant, and that’s your kitchen. The kitchen is where most of the action for your restaurant is going to take place, and if it’s not designed in a functional way, the flow and productivity of your business will suffer.

It’s time to look at the crucial areas of your commercial kitchen’s design and see how they relate to your business. Think of the operations of your kitchen, and the common processes that occur everyday.

First, you need to have food in the kitchen to cook, which means you’ll need to receive deliveries of produce and meat. The ‘deliveries’ section is where these goods arrive, and it could also includes any drinks that are delivered. You’ll need to work out how these products will be taken care of after delivery. Will they need to be stored or refrigerated? Make sure you have adequate receiving processes so you don’t have food waste or spoilage.

Next is ‘storage’, both dry and cold. You will need to determine what type of storage you need first, and then how much storage you’ll need. Consider these questions to find the best options.

  • How long does the food typically stay in storage?
  • How often do I get deliveries?
  • How big is the kitchen space?
  • How much food is prepared on a daily or weekly basis?
  • What type of storage can I reasonably accommodate while still maintaining function in the kitchen?

Cold storage will require freezers and refrigerators, and these come in a variety of sizes and styles, such as undercounter or freestanding. Shop around for commercial refrigeration options that match your needs and budget.

Dry storage will require proper shelving, and you will need to meet the food hygiene regulations, so be sure you do your research.

Now that the food is stored safely and securely, it’s time for ‘food prep’. Prep is a crucial part of your commercial kitchen, and what you need determines how your food prep area will be set up. Do you need to have the storage and refrigeration close by your prep? Is it important to have a combination prep/refrigeration option in the kitchen? If it’s important for you to have quick access to small appliances and other kitchen needs, you will need to have a prep solution that can accommodate all of these.

If you prepare food beyond salads and sandwiches, you likely need commercial kitchen equipment for ‘production’. Here is where you’ll need to consider the size and type of the larger-size equipment, such as a commercial range or oven. As these pieces of equipment take up a lot of space, you will have to consider how much you’ll use them and how they can fit in your kitchen to improve how you prepare food for your customers. Don’t overlook things such as commercial ice machines either, because those are important for your customers’ food and drink experience a well.

Once the food is cooked, it needs to be plated and served to your customers. After the food is served, all dirty dishes, linen and tableware will need to be removed as well. These aspects are part of the service area of your commercial kitchen’s design. Your servers should ideally have a service station where they can easily get the supplies they need to set and clean up a table. If food, once plated, will be waiting to be picked up, a station or area for hot-holding is another factor that makes it easy for your servers to feed customers efficiently and quickly.

What happens after the food has been consumed by your happy customers? Your waiting staff will need to clean up, which means you’ll have dishes – so to the ‘wash-up’. Dishwashing is a must in any busy commercial kitchen and you’ll need the equipment that can keep your dishes sparkling clean and ready for customers. If you aren’t using a commercial dishwasher, it’s crucial that you have a dish-washing system that includes areas for washing, rinsing and sanitation — it contravenes food hygiene regulations to perform all three in the same sinks, so be aware. The dishwasher you will need will depend on how much you need to wash, how big your space is, your budget.

Cleaning the restaurant, not just the plates, must be considered as well. Chemicals, brushes, cleaning cloths — all of these will be used to clean your restaurant. To comply with COSHH, they need to separated and stored away from anywhere where food is stored and prepared, and chemicals need to safely secured. Ensure you have adequate space to keep all of these things together.

Finally, you have to deal with ‘waste’ at your restaurant. Rubbish and food waste must be disposed of, and you need to make sure that you have the right equipment on hand to do so. Bin liners, waste bins, recycling bins, and other rubbish needs will mean that there has to be storage of these products, and you need to arrange your kitchen so that they may be easily retrieved.

Your kitchen requires careful consideration and planning. It, itself, is like a business, where everyone and everything has its part. The task is difficult, but it’s worth it for a perfectly functioning commercial kitchen.

For help or advice please contact the Busychef team on 0500 008075 or email sales@busychef.co.uk

Ten Pub or Restaurant Construction and Design Mistakes

I have been involved with numerous restaurant and pub builds, and I have seen a lot of dust fly! In the throes of a restaurant fit out there are many critical details that can be easily overlooked without a good set of plans and an experienced main contractor at the helm. New restaurant or pub owners in particular are susceptible to construction mistakes because, like anyone on a new journey, they are simply unaware of the nuances involved. Mostly in an effort to save money, new owners, (and plenty of experienced operators too), take on the project management themselves, work from an inadequate set of design drawings or hire sub-contractors unfamiliar with restaurant or pub refurbishment. In either or all of these scenarios inevitably something goes wrong. Here are several reoccurring mistakes that I have seen over the years, accompanied by some personal views:

midtown-0171. Underestimating the cost of fitting out a pub or restaurant. There is no such thing as a cheap pub or restaurant build. They are all expensive. Even taking over a pub or previous restaurant space does not guarantee huge savings. New restaurant construction costs begin at roughly £1,000 a square metre and can increase in a hurry depending on the scope of work and finish detail. To quote Russell Norman “One third of new restaurants fail to open the doors due to lack of cash”. 

2. Asking for forgiveness rather than permission? Environmental health and building regulations have become more stringent for food businesses over the years, and inspectors are evermore wise to the shenanigans of contractors looking to cut corners. I have been privy to some unpermitted work performed on a weekend when local authority employees are typically not on duty. “I don’t know where that huge ventilation duct came from sir”. Do yourself a favour and get the proper permissions for the work being done. Penalties are very costly, and the most expensive penalty can be a delay.

DSCN31473. Overestimating the construction timeline. “The builder said he could finish my pub in two weeks”. I hear this all the time from customers, and I have never seen a contractor yet who could strip out and fully refurbish a pub or restaurant in two weeks. Contractors will do and say anything upfront to get your business. Remember that even the best laid plans are subject to human error, weather events, inspection delays and unforeseen circumstances. Whatever timeline the builder tells you, double it!

4.  Second hand kitchen equipment – not so fast! This is not the best first move when refurbishing a pub or restaurant. A new developer, flush with cash and the eagerness to get their project moving is exactly what the catering equipment dealer is counting on. The myth to dispel here is that you are not saving that much money buying used equipment over brand new. There are no warranties associated with anything used and often no refunds once the goods leave the store. You cannot guarantee that second hand equipment meets current regulations – especially gas equipment. To quote a work colleague “Make your first expense your last expense”.

5. Taking on too much space. In general, restaurants are shrinking in size. The cost to operate, staff and fill 1,500 square metres is unnecessarily expensive. Get creative with 600 square metres instead. There is plenty of room, even for a full service concept with a bar, and your restaurant will feel cozy. Use high ceiling space for mezzanine seating and vertical storage, you’re not charged for that in your rent! 

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6. Trophy Kitchens. Ah the ego, it makes us do things we shouldn’t; like making the kitchen too big. Chefs are famous for doing this because – well they are chefs. Never allow your chef to go shopping in a catering equipment showroom unaccompanied! I can show you several tiny kitchens that produce high volumes of food. Many use island style prep and cook stations allow for 360 degree access. Remember, kitchens are cost centres. If you must go big add a chef’s table or counter to generate additional revenues. 

7. Goldilocks Bars. Bars can either be too big or too small and much depends on the concept and drinks offer. An intimate six seat bar might be perfect as could a 30 seat titanic. Take precaution in sizing a bar and even ask “do I need one”? Bars have to be staffed and if they sit empty your restaurant looks dead. Find the size that’s just right for you. By the way, a normal bar top height is about 1.1m from the finished floor. I’ve seen to a contractor demolish a finished bar at 1.2m because it was too high, (bar stools are standard height). Check everything!

restaurant-kitchen-designing-108. Open Kitchens, not open wash-up rooms. Open kitchens are popular these days because they add excitement, connection and transparency to the guest experience. Who doesn’t like to see the sous chef tossing a flaming skillet of mushrooms, right? The wash-up area however – we don’t need to see that. Same goes for the kitchen floor, prep area and other potentially messy sight lines…better left concealed. 

9. Sound and lighting gaffes. Finding balance with both of these design elements will make for happy customers. Leave the roar of the crowd to the football ground. When designing a restaurant use a mix of finish materials and decorative items that are sound absorbent. If I can’t hear a conversation across the table then there’s a problem. Having a variety of lighting elements and the control of lighting intensity is paramount. All hail the dimmer knob – but can I read the menu please! 

10. TV Overkill. For the love of Pete, unless you’re designing a sports bar get rid of the TV’s please. We are an over stimulated society. Restaurants should be refuge from the electronic madness. Here’s an idea, turn the TV’s around to face the wall. I’d rather stare at the wires.

Need help planning your perfect catering kitchen – contact the busyCHEF team by phoning free 0500 00875 or email sales@busychef.co.uk

 

What to Consider When Buying Restaurant Equipment

If you are thinking about opening your own restaurant, buying commercial catering equipment will surely be a top priority. Purchasing such equipment is quite different from buying it for your kitchen at home. Making the right choices is imperative, as they will pave the way for your future success. The following tips might help you in devising a strategy on how to proceed.

Consider Your Budget

Starting up a restaurant is expensive. You have to employ kitchen and waiting staff as well as pay for licences, food, rent, utilities and advertising. No restaurant can go without equipment, hence it deserves special attention. It is the foundation for future growth. But there are ways of equipping your kitchen with everything you need without going bust.

Having gas available in the building is one way of saving money from the outset without reducing quality. If you prefer electric, then you should try getting three-phase into your restaurant kitchen. Three-phase wiring lowers the kilowatt hours used and cuts your electricity bill. Another factor when deciding between electric or gas is efficiency and maintenance cost. Electric equipment is usually more efficient but it contains more moving parts and so repairs are costlier.

Furthermore, there are different levels of quality equipment within the above categories. Depending on how much money you have available you can opt for different classes for the different items you will buy.

Consider your Space

Considering your space and arranging all the equipment properly is vital for the efficient functioning of your kitchen.

Talk to a commercial kitchen designer to devise an optimal kitchen layout so that it creates nice flow throughout the cooking process. A  good kitchen plan is where all your equipment fits in and is easily accessible to the kitchen staff when needed. Therefore, don’t overbuy equipment.
It is better for a kitchen to be compact instead of having useless items standing in the way. Consulting an electrician is important. If you are using an older building for your restaurant, you have to ensure it can supply all the electricity needed. In summer, for example, refrigeration equipment and ice machines work harder to keep cool and can overheat, which can cause electrical outages.  The electrician will be able to help once the layout is decided to make sure the right power is available to the equipment pieces.
                                                                                                                                                                            Consider What You Need

This brings us to prioritising your purchases. Some equipment is indispensable. Other items can be purchased later, on or can even be leased. Once you know your budget you can list all the equipment you want on a sliding scale of necessity. The importance of equipment is determined by how often a specific item will be used. You should consider whether the kitchen could survive without a particular piece for a day or several days. Naturally, the more crucial a piece is, the more you should opt for quality.

A chef’s input before you go shopping is beneficial. Depending on the type of your restaurant, a chef might be able to give you some good advice about what’s important and what can wait. You should also consult an electrician about a good kitchen plan that houses all your equipment neatly and is readily accessible to staff.

Finally, you might want to consult your local environmental health officer, fire service and building inspector before you buy anything. They can usually provide you with a spec sheet on what is allowed into a commercial kitchen.

Do Your Research

Proper research and planning is maybe the most important part of the process. This can save you hassle later on. Compare the different items, set priorities, consult relevant specialists and keep your vision in mind. With all of this in check, you are well on your way to creating a kitchen which will work wonders.

Spacious and Clean Commercial Kitchen

YCE Catering Equipment Ltd are based in Leeds, Yorkshire and has built up a reputation as a respected catering equipment company serving the hospitality, leisure, public and private sectors throughout the UK.

Busychef is the online sales showroom for YCE Catering Equipment Ltd.