How to Design a Functional Commercial Kitchen

How to Design a Functional Commercial Kitchen

Many factors go into opening and running a restaurant, including designing a functional space for your guests to eat in and enjoy. However, there’s another space that’s just as important in your restaurant, and that’s your commercial kitchen. The kitchen is where most of the action in your restaurant is going to take place, and if it’s not designed in a functional way, the flow and productivity of your business will suffer.

It’s time to look at the crucial areas of your commercial kitchen’s design and see how they relate to your business. Think of the operations of your kitchen, and the common processes that occur every day.

Create a Serviceable Receiving Area

First, you need to have food in the kitchen to cook, which means you’ll need to receive orders of produce and meat. The receiving section is where these goods are delivered, and it also includes any beverages, such as soft drinks, that are delivered. You’ll need to figure out how these products will be taken care of after delivery. Will they need to be stored or refrigerated? Make sure you have adequate receiving processes so you don’t have food waste or spoilage.

Purchase Dry and Cold Food Storage

In order to to have a commercial kitchen design that is functional, you’ll need commercial food storage, both dry and cold. You will need to determine what type of storage you need first, and then how much storage you’ll need. Consider these questions to find the best options.

  • How long does the food typically stay in storage?
  • How often do I get deliveries?
  • How big is the kitchen space?
  • How much food is prepared on a daily or weekly basis?

Cold storage will require freezers and refrigerators, and these come in a variety of sizes and styles, such as undercounter or freestanding. Shop for commercial refrigeration options that match your needs and budget.

Dry storage will require proper shelving and cabinets, and you will need to meet the health code, so be sure you do your research.

Create a Space for Food Prep

Now that the food is stored safely and securely, it’s time for food prep equipment. Prep is a crucial part of your commercial kitchen design, and what you need determines how your food prep area will be set up. Do you need to have the storage and refrigeration close by your prep? Is it important to have a combination prep/refrigeration option in the kitchen? If it’s important for you to have quick access to small appliances and other kitchen needs, you will need to have a prep solution that can accommodate all of these.

Invest in Commercial Cooking Equipment

If you prepare food beyond salads and sandwiches, you likely need commercial cooking equipment for production. Here is where you’ll need to consider the size and type of the larger-size equipment, such as commercial ranges or ovens. As these pieces of equipment take up a lot of space, you will have to consider how much you’ll use them and how they can fit in your kitchen to improve how you prepare food for your customers. Don’t overlook things such as commercial ice machines either, because those are important for your customers’ food and beverage experience a well.

Have Designated Areas for Servicing Tables

Once the food is cooked, it needs to be plated and served to your customers. After the food is served, all dirty dishes, linens, and tableware will need to be removed as well. These aspects are part of the Service area of your commercial kitchen’s design. Your servers should ideally have a service station where they can easily get the supplies they need to set and clean up a table. If food, once plated, will be waiting to be picked up, a service window and hot well are essential to helping the FOH staff garnish and send food out to customers faster.

Create a Kitchen Sanitation System for the BOH

What happens after the food has been consumed by your happy customers? Your servers, FOH staff, and busboys will need to be cleaned up, which means you’ll have dishes. Dish-washing is a must in any busy commercial kitchen and you’ll need the equipment that can keep your dishes sparkling clean and ready for guests. If you aren’t using commercial dishwashers, it’s crucial that you have a dish-washing system that includes areas for washing, rinsing, and sanitation -- it may be against the local health code to perform all three in the same sinks, so be aware. The dishwasher you will need will depend on how much you need to wash, how big your space is, and your budget.

Establish a Designated Space for Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning the restaurant, not just the plates, must be considered as well. Chemicals, brooms, rags, sponges - all of these will be used by the FOH and BOH for closing side work and cleaning at the end of the night. Per safety codes, they need to be separated and stored away from anywhere where food is stored and prepared, and chemicals need to be safely secure. Ensure you have adequate space to keep all of these things together.

Manage Waste Properly

Finally, you have to deal with waste at your restaurant. Trash and food waste must be disposed of, and you need to make sure that you have the right equipment on hand to do so. Trash can liners, waste bins, recycling bins, and other trash needs will mean that there has to be storage of these products, and you need to arrange your commercial kitchen so that they may be easily retrieved.

Your commercial kitchen requires careful consideration and planning. It, itself, is like a business, where everyone and everything has its part. The task is difficult, but it’s worth it for a perfectly functioning commercial kitchen.


  1. comment authorWesley Bergman Nov 30, 2017

    Thank you for all of the great tips. We remodel kitchens in Temecula but would like to start going after some commercial kitchen jobs. This article has been very helpful in our research of what we need to know.

  2. comment authorMelissa Caron Mar 21, 2018

    I have so many tips and ideas gather from this article it is an important to learn more about renovations especially to our place in Temecula. Thank you so much for the very useful technique.

    comment authorGoFoodservice Invalid Date

    Thank you so much for stopping by, Melissa! I'm glad you found this blog useful! Be sure to check out our other articles regarding kitchen design. Thanks again!

  3. comment authorJames Anderson Apr 9, 2018

    I appreciate that you've mentioned that commercial kitchens should be designed to have a receiving section, which is where goods and beverages are delivered. I believe that the receiving section is the first area that should be given emphasis by a commercial designer, as it will determine whether food will be stored properly or wasted, which in turn determines if the restaurant will continue its operation or not. My wife and I are looking to get involved in the food business as well, and knowledge of this will be our basis in choosing the right commercial designer for our kitchen. Thanks for this!

  4. comment authorMelissa Caron Apr 11, 2018

    My pleasure to have your ideas, it was a great to read your article. And looking forward to read your other topic in renovations. Keep it up!

  5. comment authorHood Depot Apr 17, 2018

    Your post is very helpful. A well-designed commercial kitchen is integral to efficient, safe and profitable food preparation. Thank you for sharing these tips.

  6. comment authorAngela Waterford Oct 17, 2019

    I want to create a restaurant someday, and that will include having a large kitchen to accommodate many orders. Thanks for saying that I should get a dry storage option where people can keep dry goods for long periods of time. I'm thinking that I'll need commercial cabinets for this, so I might hire someone to build them for me.

  7. comment authorBishop Aug 29, 2021

    One of the biggest mistakes I made in planning my commercial kitchen layout is not accounting for maintenance. At some point, all of my kitchen equipment will need to be repaired or replaced, and I need to ensure there’s room for that maintenance to be done. Thank you for this informative post. Appreciated!

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