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Top 10 Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas & Tips

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Last Updated on April 28, 2016

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Looking for restaurant kitchen design ideas? You’ve come to the right place.

Arista has done restaurant HVAC, refrigeration and kitchen repair for many years (decades, really) so we’ve been involved in countless restaurant startups and renovations. In the process, we’ve learned quite a few useful tips. Here goes!

Here’s our list of the 10 most useful restaurant kitchen design ideas

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #1: LET KITCHEN WORKERS HELP DESIGN THEIR OWN STATIONS

In a restaurant kitchen, workflow is everything. Well, almost everything… the food counts too. But if your process is moving too slowly, the food will suffer as a result. So give your workers the best chance to maximize workflow by making sure they have everything they need within reach. Ideally, have each person stand in the spot where they will work, and set up everything they need where they can easily get to it.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #2: GIVE YOUR CHEFS WARM LIGHT FOR PLATING

This is one most people don’t think of, but it’s really essential if you want gorgeous plating. The color temperature of your lighting (at least near the chef’s station and in the dining room) should be on the warm side. That’s because food, like people, looks more visually pleasing in warm lighting. Now, when we say “warm” we mean color temperature, not heat temperature. Ask your kitchen designer to show you lamps at different color temperatures, and you’ll probably find that a color range of 2700-3000K does wonders for the appearance of your food.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #3: MAKE CEILINGS CLEANABLE

It’s a no-brainer to make sure your floors and countertops are easy to clean, but the ceiling is just as important. Don’t forget, heat rises. Any grease and vapors that don’t get removed by your kitchen ventilation will end up plastered on the ceiling. If it doesn’t clean easily, it’s going to cost you a lot of time down the road. Look into options like vinyl-clad or perforated aluminum.

Related article: FAQ: Commercial Kitchen Ventilation Regulations & Best Practices

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #4: PLACEMENT OF ICE MACHINES

When figuring out the layout for your kitchen equipment, you want to ensure that it’s convenient for your staff, but also optimal for the equipment items to function properly. Your ice machine is a great example. It’s used by almost everyone in the kitchen, so it must be easily accessible. But remember, your kitchen is hot, and your ice machine needs to stay cool! Don’t put the ice machine close to your hot cooking appliances, and also make sure there is no fan or exhaust blowing directly onto it.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #5: AIR-GAPPED DRAIN LINES

You work hard to keep your kitchen prep and cleanup areas pristine (and in compliance with health codes). So the last thing you need is a plumbing backup contaminating your sinks. To prevent that from happening, install air-gapped drains. These have vertical air space that separates the receptacle (such as a sink) from your drainage system.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #6: ADEQUATE DELIVERY DOOR SIZE

Make sure your delivery area has a door large enough to accommodate large delivery pallets, dish return carts, and delivery of large equipment. While you’re at it, make sure there is a path to your cold and dry storage areas that doesn’t go through the main part of your kitchen. You don’t want delivery people traipsing through your kitchen in the middle of a busy shift!

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #7: DESIGN STORAGE WITH THE FUTURE IN MIND

Speaking of storage, it really is true that you can never have enough of it. So from the get-go, design your kitchen with even more storage than you need right now. After all, you plan to grow, right? What happens when you change the menu in a year or two, and you need to store more and/or larger items? Plan for that from the beginning, and you won’t need to remodel to add more storage later.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #8: INCLUDE A WATER SOURCE NEAR THE COOKTOP

If you’re using a lot of water on your cooktop, install a pot filler or other water source as close as possible. That way, you minimize people carrying large pots across the kitchen, which can be disruptive to your workflow and even dangerous for your staff.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #9: COMFORT STATIONS FOR WORKERS

Don’t forget that your workers need restrooms, changing areas and lockers to keep their belongings. Locate these areas as close to the kitchen as you can for the convenience of your staff, and to minimize disruptions during a busy shift.

Restaurant Kitchen Design Ideas:
TIP #10: TEST OUT THE PLAN

Once you think you’ve got the plan all figured out, it’s time to test it. You can actually do this even before you begin construction of the space.

Rent out a large conference room or warehouse space for a few days, and use tape or paper to lay out your floor plan in full scale. You can even use a parking lot in a pinch. Then bring in some of your kitchen staff to walk the floor, role-play an actual dinner shift, and see how it works. Are people bumping into each other? Are the sight lines correct so staff can communicate easily?

Also, go through every single item you will have to use or store, and figure out where it goes. When you’ve completed these steps, you greatly reduce the chances that you’ve forgotten something important in your planning.

For more tips about planning a commercial kitchen, read this related article: 10 Restaurant Kitchen Design Mistakes You Must Avoid.

One more essential restaurant kitchen tip: don’t forget to plan for maintenance

We hope these restaurant kitchen design ideas help you plan smart and maximize the efficiency of your kitchen. Once you get everything working like clockwork, you need to take an additional step to keep it that way. Invest in preventative maintenance for all your mission critical equipment.

You may already know that maintaining your HVAC systems can save you from breakdowns and even reduce your energy bills. But did you know that you should be doing the same type of maintenance for your refrigeration equipment? Learn more about it from this handy guide to Refrigeration Preventive Maintenance Contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your Food Service Operation.


Get Your Free Guide to Refrigeration Maintenance Contracts, Today!