Erin Doman on September 19, 2015 5 Comments Those who own a commercial kitchen know that there is a lot more that goes into its upkeep than your average home kitchen. Not only is a commercial kitchen larger than a residential kitchen, it’s also set up and operated differently. If you plan on working in a commercial kitchen or need to optimize your current commercial kitchen, there are a few tips you can put to use to get your kitchen in good order. 1. Proper Equipment Every setup has a set of fundamental equipment, and commercial kitchens are no different. Specifically, you’ll need: A commercial refrigerator Food carriers Kitchen work tables Disposable catering or take-out supplies Basic kitchen supplies Steam table pans Commercial dishwasher It’s essential that every piece of equipment you choose is optimized to be used in a commercial kitchen rather than a residential kitchen. You don’t want to cut corners now and experience problems later because your fridge is too small to handle a large food order. Another reason you’ll need commercial equipment is that some items, such as fridges, have warranties that are only valid if the equipment is installed in a commercial kitchen. 2. Storage Space The amount of storage space you need depends on the size of your restaurant, the amount of food you expect to serve your guests, the number of shelves you need for dry storage and if you want to use speed racks in your cold storage area. You need to have a solid idea of your restaurant’s style before you finalize any new additions and add-ons–especially when it comes to the more expensive storage options. Your refrigeration options for cold storage are varied and can include: Roll-ins Undercounter fridges Walk-ins Glass door units As for dry storage, you’ll want to keep this area as well organized as possible to make it easy to find what you need when you need it. If you have utility shelves, they’ll need to follow the most current health codes. You should also keep safety in mind as you’re arranging items in dry storage. It is a good idea to keep heavier items on the bottom shelf, so make sure they have enough room. This is to prevent any heavy boxes from toppling over and potentially harming you or your employees. 3. Prep Stations Take a look at your kitchen and decide how you want everything to flow. Where do you see the service, production and food receiving stations? Now where does the prep station fit into this kitchen flow? To help you decide, think about where you want the station to be in relation to your ranges, ovens and fryers. Stationary prep tables are a good option for keeping food processors, mixers and other small wares underneath. There are also sandwich and salad prep tables if you prefer the setup found in delis. 4. Specialty Appliances Depending on your kitchen, you might require specific appliances that enable you to do your job. Be sure that you shop smart when looking for the right commercial-grade appliance. For example, if you plan on serving toast, buns, bagels, English muffins or the like, you’ll need a quality commercial toaster. You’ll be able to choose between a conveyor toaster and a pop-up toaster. Conveyor toasters can churn out as many as 300 slices of toast in a single hour and can be adjusted according to temperature and chamber height. Pop-up toasters have been known to pop out as many as 120 slices of toast an hour, which is a good number if you run a smaller kitchen and need something that can toast up to four or six slices of bread at a time. Unless you run a vegan restaurant, it is likely that you will need a meat grinder of some sort. Meat grinders come in a range of sizes, so be sure to identify the style you need in your kitchen and accommodate for its size when designing your space. There are many other types of appliances that can fit in your kitchen, so it is crucial you pick the ones that you will need the most and try to arrange them in the most space saving way possible. Once you’ve decided which appliances you will need for your commercial kitchen, you’ll next want to consider how much power you’ll need. Be sure to do your research or hire a professional to help you understand your energy needs. Not only do you want to think about your present needs, but your future needs as well. 5. Cleaning Up As you’re thinking about where food and ingredients will go before you start preparing and serving meals, be sure you also give careful consideration about where you’ll take care of dishes and the trash. If you decide not to use a dishwasher, you’ll need a compartmentalized sink for spaces for washing, rinsing and sanitizing. If you don’t have very much space, look into getting an undercounter dishwasher. Conveyor and door-type dishwashers are a better choice for larger spaces. Your dishwashing area is also where you’ll want to have your sanitizer buckets and supplies as well as your dishwashing racks. It’s also convenient to have your cleaning supply closet close to your dishwashing area. Here you’ll store mops, brooms, scouring pads and cleaning chemicals. With trash, think about whether you’ll recycle, how many waste bins you’ll likely need and which of your local waste management companies you desire to take care of your trash. 6. Solar Kitchens If you’re considering going green, a solar kitchen may be the perfect fit for your establishment. Utilizing solar energy is beneficial because the source of your power is free and the panels can last you a lifetime if properly maintained. Solar panels also tend to be quite attractive to customers. Besides the initial cost, there are a few considerations you’ll need to mull over while deciding whether a solar kitchen is right for you. Look to see if your state offers special incentives for solar equipment and how long those incentives will last. You’ll also want to make sure your roof gets plenty of sunshine to justify you installing solar panels. Find out how much solar radiation your area receives. You should also think about how much power you need to operate your kitchen and the rest of your restaurant. If you don’t have the financial resources necessary to set up a solar kitchen, a solar hot water heater may be your next best bet. Solar hot water heaters are much less expensive to operate than solar panels. Two of your options for solar hot water heaters include batch water heaters and thermosiphon water heaters. For a colder climate, you’ll be better off with a thermosiphon heater. Once you’ve got your new commercial kitchen set up, don’t be afraid to do some rearranging if things aren’t going the way you wanted them to or if your employees have a problem getting their food orders out in time. The problem may be in the overall arrangement of your kitchen rather than the speed or ability of your workforce. Keep rearranging and trying different options until you find a system that not only works for you but for your employees too.