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How to Choose the Best Kitchen Layout for Your Restaurant

Why Does Kitchen Layout Matter?

Small business owners preparing to launch restaurants, delis and other eateries need to think carefully about more than just their establishment’s design and decor. They will also want to take into consideration their kitchen layout. Smart kitchen organization is critical to ensuring that your restaurant operates at maximum efficiency, is seen in a positive light by diners and promotes your brand, all keys to maximum success and revenue generation.

Establishing a functional kitchen entails making sure that the food preparation space operates in a way that meets the needs of your business plan, is well organized and, if visible to patrons, is an airy, non-cluttered space with plenty of room for people to see your excellent chefs in action.
The most common kitchen layouts include assembly line, island, zone-style, galley and open kitchen.

Assembly Line – An assembly line allows for chefs to move food down the counter for each phase of preparation until it reaches the point where the server brings the meal to the diner. While watching a very efficient assembly line cook can be an eye-opener to diners, they must be well organized if you choose to go open air. Assembly lines getting backed up and line cooks rushing to prepare food aren’t a good look.

Island – An island-style layout allows for optimal movement and communication among cooks and may be the best functional kitchen for some restaurants. Island layouts can be geared toward being open to the public. They are more spacious than an assembly line layout and can wow diners who will be impressed by your staff’s interpersonal skills and hustle to ensure meals are prepared to perfection.

Zone-Style –  This kitchen organization includes separate areas for specific menus and is considered a highly functional kitchen. Zone-Style is commonly used for large events, such as those held in banquet halls. It is not recommended that Zone-Style be visible to guests. The mass amount of food being cooked may not be as appealing to the eye as customers may not be able to differentiate the food they ordered from others.

Galley and Open Kitchens – A galley kitchen is long and narrow, with food stations on the perimeter. It may best be closed off if cooks have their backs to customers. An open kitchen, as the name suggests, gives diners a clear view of the space, pulling back the curtain on the food preparation process.

Which is best for you? As mentioned above, it depends on how you prepare your food and your staff’s proficiency and competency. Your chefs may make terrific food, giving your restaurant high ratings and rave reviews. But that doesn’t necessarily mean an open kitchen is best.

The atmosphere in a kitchen can sometimes resemble chaos to the outsider while your staff is in reality doing a great job. Still, tempers can flare, and chefs can bump into each other. If this scenario describes your kitchen, then you may want to keep it from public view.

On the other hand, if your kitchen team moves with grace, and are expert communicators and artful chefs, a restaurateur would want diners to get a first-hand experience of the magic that goes into making a delicious meal.

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