A kitchen can make or break a restaurant. With the right design, everything flows smoothly, efficiently, and safely. Get things wrong, and you run the risk of delays, confusion, wasted food, broken dishes, and even injuries. Don't let that happen to you — here are seven mistakes you definitely need to avoid when designing your commercial restaurant kitchen:
1. PICKING THE WRONG FIXTURES AND APPLIANCES.
It's nice to be able to afford expensive, top-of-the-line appliances, but how well do they really fit your facility? Do you need all of the features they offer, or are they more likely to just be a waste? At best, you may find that your cooks have no need for some of the settings and automation built into these appliances. At worst, they may create a steeper learning curve that can result in more accidents and wasted food.
When you're picking out appliances, take your cooks' experience and comfort level into account. You might want all of the bells and whistles in your own home kitchen, but what will actually help them do their jobs?
2. NEGLECTING STORAGE NEEDS.
A delivery truck just arrived, loaded with goods in anticipation of your busiest day of the week. There's only one problem — where's all of that stuff going to go? If it's perishable food, it'll rot and be wasted if it can't get into a refrigerator or freezer in time. If it's non-perishable, it still needs a safe, clean storage area.
You can also run into problems if you fail to plan for the future. The refrigerator that seemed spacious enough when your restaurant first opened up may feel tiny and packed as your business grows. That doesn't mean you should always choose the largest storage options available to you, even if you don't need them. Just try to plan ahead, and leave room for your kitchen to grow with your business.
3. CHOOSING FORM OVER FUNCTION.
When choosing your building materials, you need to consider how they'll behave in a busy food prep environment. Even if they're beautiful, they may not stay that way for long. Even if you can make them stay pretty, maintaining them may take up a lot of your employees' time that would be better spent elsewhere. Even if you can manage all of that, the materials you choose may increase the risk of falls and spills. It's a delicate balance, but it's a very important one.
4. NOT THINKING LIKE THE FOOD.
When a parent is baby-proofing a house, they're encouraged to get on their child's level to spot dangers that are invisible to an adult. When designing a safe and efficient kitchen, it helps to put yourself in your menu's place in a very similar way.
Pick a dish. Where will its preparation start? Where does it need to go after that? Follow the food on its entire journey through your kitchen. Every time a dish needs to go from one station to another, that also creates an opportunity for food to be spilled, or for accidents to happen. How can you arrange your kitchen to minimize the amount of unnecessary walking your employees need to do?
5. NOT PLANNING AHEAD FOR ROUTINE MAINTENANCE.
If you have any kind of equipment, you're going to need to maintain it at some point. Even something as simple as a floor will need to be mopped periodically. You'll need to plan out how you're going to maintain everything and make sure you account for it in your design. Contact a service provider pre-emptively, and make sure that they're able to handle servicing all of your equipment and ventilation needs. Set up a contract so all you'll have to do is place one phone call to handle all of your maintenance needs. It'll save you a lot of time, and time is money.
6. HAVING TOO MUCH SPACE.
For homes, a big kitchen is ideal — nobody wants a small, cramped space. For restaurants, a kitchen can actually be too big. In an ideal scenario, a cook shouldn't have to move from their workstation. They should be able to turn and reach everything they need easily, safely, and comfortably. If there's too much space, it makes employees have to cover more distance. Covering more distance introduces more opportunities for wasted food, broken dishes, and slips.
7. EMPHASIZING ONE AREA OVER ANOTHER.
A restaurant makes food. When you're designing a commercial kitchen, it's very easy to miss the forest for that particular tree. You may find yourself paying tons of attention to your food prep areas, then treating your washing stations as an afterthought. Cleanup stations may not be as exciting to plan, but they're vital to the flow of a restaurant. Every area of your business should receive careful attention and planning — otherwise, you'll find your employees struggling to work around piles of dirty dishes!
Don't let common kitchen design mistakes trip up your business. If you want to make sure your restaurant's kitchen is flawlessly efficient, use a design consultant like ChefVue. ChefVue lets you collaborate with design experts and professional chefs in real-time, to ensure that you get a kitchen design that meets the needs of your menu, employees, and clientele alike.