So you have secured your research, come up with a business plan, and secured financing to open up a restaurant. Chances are unless you have bought into a franchise, It is up to you to decide what equipment you need and where to stick it. This can be a daunting task, the layout of your kitchen will have a long term impact on your labor costs. remodeling after the initial install is costly and not always possible. But don’t worry, although every restaurant is different, if you follow these few simple guidelines your restaurant kitchen will be able to operate at peak efficiency with the lowest labor cost possible. And efficiency equals profit.
First, there are four major sections to a restaurant kitchen; The pick-up area-where the servers come to get the food after the cooks prepare it, the grill area where the majority of the food cooked to order will be prepared at, the prep area- where items that are made for serving at a later time and/or ingredients are prepared, and the storage area- where items that are not used directly for the grill area are stored.
The relationship between these areas will directly impact how much staff you need to have working in the kitchen at any given time to handle the job, the higher the staff the higher the labor costs.
1. Pickup area. This area serves as a liaison between your restaurant kitchen and your servers. The pickup-area should be easiest spot to figure out because it will always be located near the entrance of the kitchen or the window. It is here you will need enough counterspace to handle the orders of at least ten percent your seating. At least one handwashing station should be here that can be reached by both the cooks and the servers (two stations if using a window). The pick-up area should be located immediately next to the coldtable which will be used to place the final garnishes (lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ect….)
2. Grill area. This is the heart of the restaurant kitchen. The grill area includes; The grill, fryer, coldtable, a freezer unit, firmware, and some counterspace. It is here that your cook will be doing the most work. If your restaurant’s kitchen is spread out too far it will either from ,best to worst; Slow down service, force you to raise manpower, or cause poor quality output and frequent product loss. To avoid your grill area from being too spread out, layer each component spreading outwards within reach of the grill.
Begin by mirroring the grill across from the coldtable. A coldtable will offer quick access to garnishes and other frequently needed products that need refrigeration. Underneath a cold table is a small refrigerators worth of storage, this can be utilized for products, such as raw meats, which are used directly on the grill. By mirroring the coldtable across from the grill the cook is allowed quick access to moving both raw product from the coldtable refrigerators to the grill, and cooked products to the finishing area.
In order for the cooks to actually move the food from the grill back to the pickup area they are going to need plates. A good place for your firmware, (plates) is on shelves above your coldtable area. This would keep it as close to the grill as possible (you cant put it above the grill because of exhaust).
Place your fryer within reach of your grill. Second to the grill, the fryer is the most labor intensive piece of equipment in your restaurant, as such you will want the travel time between the two at a minimum. Depending on your grill type you may need to maintain a minimum distance between the fryer and an open flame source (always check your local ordinances, mine states 18 inches). This is a good place to have a small counter and a heat lamp, just because you need a distance between the fryer and grill does not mean you cant use that distance.
Across from your fryer is a good location for a freezer unit. The purpose of this freezer is to store foods which will be used in the fryer. This will not be your main freezer unit, some products, such as french fries, you will need more of then could be stored in your grill area. Do not fixate on storing everything in one place, by providing a smaller storage area and keeping that within reach you can restock between rushes without losing cooking time. There are several good freezers which can also double as countertops which can be used both for additional work areas, as well as being a good place for other equipment you may use such as a toaster or hot storage devices.
3. Prep area. making a smooth transition out of the grill area and towards the prep area we find ourselves with only a few pieces of hardware left to place. Ideally we want to get our stove/oven in there next to the fryer so we can use the same ventilation hood/fire suppression system. But in order to do this we need to meet that separation distance again. One good idea is to use a refrigerator to meet this demand.
The prep area refrigerator will hold perishable goods that are frequently used during the prep process. By keeping this near the grill area you can also hold some items that may not fit in the coldtable area.
Across the aisle from the stove is a prime location for the main prep counter, this counter would be within reach of your fridge, stove, and future prep sink. Counterspace is the most important area for a prepcook. Having a large area to work with tends to up productivity and lowers the risk of cross-contamination.
Next to the prep counter should be a prep sink. A prep sink is not the same as a handwashing station. A proper prep sink should contain at least two deep welled compartments and serves as an area to wash produce as well as thaw any frozen products (using proper methods such as agitated suspension). A good prep sink area will provide plenty of utility for the restaurant kitchen staff down the road.
4. The Storage Area. As you may have already noticed the storage area is not strictly limited to one place. Everything does not have to be in one place. There should always be at least some of whatever product is need next to where it’s actually needed. Even if you don’t have room to store your entire weekly delivery within reach. Remember, there is no crime in stashing two cans of instant mashed potatoes close to your mixer, your cooks can always restock those cans when they get a free chance.
That being said, there is one solid guideline to follow when it comes to your main storage area. Keep it near where you take deliveries. Delivery trucks do not stock for you. Stocking takes labor, and labor costs you money. The less time it takes for your employees to put away deliveries the more time they can spend on their main duties. Design your main storage area near the backdoor.
Every Restaurant is Different: Get Feedback
This guide can only go so far, every location has different square footage and different equipment requirements. Menu’s are varied, but if you have come this far you have already figured out who your target market is and what theme your restaurant will follow. Understanding the reasoning behind this layout will go a long way when it comes to designing your own. You can easily plug in what equipment you need.
Get feedback before you build. One great way to get some active feedback on your layout is to go over your plans when your interviewing the potential manager or head cook. Not only can you get a better idea of their experience, you can gain insight into any potential improvements that could be made to the restaurant kitchen layout.