hospitality kitchen design

Hospitality Kitchen Design

There is a lot of work that goes into planning a successful and efficient hospitality kitchen design.  If you have you ever renovated or refurbished a residential kitchen in your own home, you know exactly how time consuming, confusing and challenging it can be. 

Planning the layout of a hospitality kitchen is equally challenging.  It’s especially stressful given it’s the back-bone of your hospitality business, so there is a lot of pressure to get it right.

You might be aware that in residential kitchen design there are typical layouts such as a;

  • Single line kitchen
  • Kitchen with an L shape
  • U shaped kitchen, and
  • Galley kitchen.

Which layout you choose depends on the space you have to work with and your budget.  The finishes and fixtures are also dependent on your budget.  In a residential kitchen, your preferred interior style plays an important role also. 

As shown in the diagram above there are some fundamental rules that guide a residential kitchen design.  You may also be aware of the kitchen triangle.  A concept which sees key zones in a residential kitchen considered and placed in a triangular shape (wherever possible) to allow for ease of use, optimal functionality and energy efficiency.

Key Considerations in Hospitality Kitchen Design

A hospitality kitchen has similar fundamental principles to residential kitchen design.  But there are other equally important considerations to factor into a hospitalityl kitchen design such as;

  • Menu
  • Size of kitchen
  • Size of the main floor and number of diners
  • Takeaway offer, including delivery
  • Distance of kitchen from main floor
  • The flow of movement from the kitchen to the main floor
  • The connectivity between the bar/drinks service and the kitchen
  • Number of employees in the kitchen
  • Access to the kitchen by wait staff
  • Meeting commercial kitchen regulations
  • Choosing the right finishes and fixtures
  • Equipment, type, size, quantity
  • Etc etc etc

In this article I will focus on a standard layout for hopsitality kitchen design. And use examples from my experience to highlight some key challenges in designing hospitality kitchen.

If you Google hospitality kitchen design you will find a few different suggestions, the example below is just one.  I’ve included this layout to demonstrate the basic zones every commercial kitchen needs to consider.

Equipment for a Hospitality Kitchen Design

I don’t think there is one ‘starting’ point or any one zone in a hospitality kitchen that is more important than the other. But when sitting down to plan a hospitality kitchen having an initial equipment list is a good first step. 

Each zone will require equipment.  What type of equipment you need and select depends on your menu, budget and space.

Every millimetre counts in hospitality kitchen design. So, when you have signed your lease on the perfect space, it’s good to create an equipment list. 

Your menu is a reflection of your food concept or vision.  It impacts your business name, brand, marketing and interior design. Whether you have a new pizza concept or opening a bubble tea bar, taking a wholistic approach to your menu will be worthwhile.

Menu design, is another speciality that takes into consideration such things like, volume, costs, expenses, supply chain, and profit margin.  It doesn’t have to be specific in the planning phases but having a solid menu means you can confidently and accurately select your equipment.

Key factors we consider in designing a hospitality kitchen include; the location, shape and size of the kitchen.  At this stage, armed with your equipment list, the initial planning can begin.  There will be a few revisions to your hospitality kitchen design and a few changes to your equipment list to suit the space, overall design and business goals.

Key Kitchen Design Challenges We’ve Encountered

I’m a big believer in learning from other people’s mistakes or at least being aware of some of the problems encountered by people with experience.  Being aware can save you money.  For example, one of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered when designing a hospitality kitchen is the feasibility of the site to accommodate this high functioning space.

Site Feasibility

Often clients will sign a lease not knowing if the space can safely and within regulations house a hospitality kitchen.  Two key problems include; the exhaust and the grease trap.  In one of our projects the client was refurbishing a space that was operating as a hospitality business and assumed the grease trap was sufficient for his business, it wasn’t and it cost him nearly $60,000 to install a new grease trap.

Another client lost weeks of trading because they were relying on the landlord to make the structural changes to the space so that they could install an exhaust.  It was what they agreed to and had a contractual obligation but the landlord just didn’t do it for months.

Sometimes the space is just too small or too awkward.  One example of a kitchen being too small for my client’s menu.  The size of the kitchen simply could not fit in all the equipment to deliver the menu my client wanted.

As mentioned above refurbishing an existing hospitality space is not always a low cost option, especially if the layout of the main floor and kitchen hasn’t been well thought through.  One of my clients had to build a partition wall and a service window to make an existing hospitality space more viable.

Delivery Drivers

A constant challenge for our hospitality clients is dealing with delivery drivers and allocating a space for the collection of these bags as well as assembling the order and separating this from the busy main kitchen.

Unclear Vision

It may seem odd, but having an unclear vision also significantly impacts the kitchen layout.  For example one client wanted to completely change their menu only months after setting up their kitchen, main floor and front counter to deliver on their original concept.  The kitchen was too big, there was no service window, the front counter was too wide.  It just didn’t work and it would prove a costly exercise to refurbish.  That’s why we’re strong advocates for a strong vision, that is well researched.

Especially in this COVID normal world, starting a hospitality business is not something to do without a good concept, a sound strategy and the assistance from the right professionals to ensure you can realise your hospitality business dream successfully.

Of course, I’m always happy to have a chat about your hospitality vision, there’s no charge for an initial discussion about your concept, space, or vision and we also have an abundance of resources in our Studio Blog to help you navigate the hospitality design industry.