Owners and managers of restaurants are constantly bombarded with new ideas, concepts, and plans for using their kitchen space wisely by reducing operating costs or increasing productivity. Appliances, gadgets, and space savers of all sorts may be tempting, but if you don’t have a kitchen that is well planned in the first place, you may be throwing money away by purchasing them. The three basic kitchen-related costs (and the ways to reduce them) are:
1. Labor (increased productivity)
2. Utilities (increased energy efficiency)
3. Food (menu flexibility and planning)
What does kitchen design have to do with these costs? Careful space planning gives the restaurant owner or manager the best possible environment and tools with which to accomplish these three critical cost controls. In this chapter, we will discuss:
1. Trends in modern kitchen design
2. How to budget for the kitchen you want
3. Where to put your kitchen within your facility
4. How to create flow patterns that make the service system and work centers run smoothly
5. Food safety considerations when designing a kitchen
6. Guidelines for placement of equipment
7. The unique design needs of service areas and each part of the kitchen
Design refers to overall space planning; it defines the size, shape, style, and decoration of space and equipment in the kitchen. The layout is the detailed arrangement of the kitchen floor and counter space: where each piece of equipment will be located and where each work center will be. A work center is an area in which workers perform a specific task, such as tossing salads or garnishing plates. When several work centers are grouped together by the nature of the work being done, the whole area is referred to as a work section: cooking section, baking section, and so on.
It’s smart to design the maximum amount of flexibility into any foodservice setting, and there are different types of flexibility to consider: multiple uses for equipment, and how that may impact the design of the work sections; mobility of the equipment within the kitchen space; operational flexibility and labor flexibility. Shortsighted decisions early in the planning process impede flexibility later. The natural tendency in kitchen design is to try to fit the equipment into the space available, instead of making the space work to fit the specific needs of the operation.
As foodservice professionals, we look at preliminary drawings of a space and notice its shortcomings:
insufficient electrical capacity, not enough room for adequate waste disposal, and the like. Instead of living with these problems, why not tell the architects what we require, and where we want it? If it’s going to be your space, you must be aggressive about whether, and how, it can be made to work for you.
An important early consideration may be optimistic, but necessary nonetheless-and that is, the need for eventual expansion. In addition to your own square footage, look at whatever space is located next door.
Would it suit you if you needed to use it? Would it be expensive to modify? Would expansion be possible into that space without too much disruption of business? Even the locations of your building’s exterior walls are important. If you’re expanding into an existing parking lot, that is possible. If it’s a garden area, you might be able to design an expansion that works with it, to create outdoor dining space. But if it’s a street on the other side of the wall, expansion is simply not possible in that direction.