Space is such a commodity, especially if you operate a restaurant or foodservice operation in a city centre. While every chef has their own version of a dream kitchen, the majority has to deal with the reality of their small space.
But having a small kitchen can have its benefits as well. You take fewer steps to move around your kitchen, and you probably waste less food since you have less storage space to stock up on products. You also end up saving on electricity, water and other utilities.
When you design your kitchen space, the goal is to be able to complete a task with the fewest number of steps, while keeping it ergonomic, safe and functional.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, has an interior design background. She offers these tips for better utilizing your kitchen space:
1. Use a rolling cart
Rolling carts are a great idea in a small space as you can use them when you need more counter space, or slide them off to the side when you want to create more floor space. They are also inexpensive to purchase, and very versatile. For example, if your restaurant wants to host a cooking class or a chef demonstration, simply roll the cart out into your dining area to create an instant classroom/demo area.
2. Get rid of stuff you don’t use
Assess each and every single item you have in your kitchen, and get rid of any items that you have not used in the past 30 days. If it is a piece of equipment that you only need to use a few times a year, store it in the basement or elsewhere in your operation. Only keep items that you use on a daily basis on hand. Store your additional inventory outside of the kitchen to free up more space.
3. Re-assess your plating options
Smallwares take up a lot of space, so if your restaurant operation uses a different style of plate for every single item on your menu, you might consider paring down your plating options to just three or four styles. For example appetizer dishes could also do double duty as dessert dishes. Also, use dishes that can easily be nested or stacked, and fit well into the rack of your dishwasher. This way, you can be more efficient with your dishwashing as well.
4. Utilize all your wall space and ceiling
Install shelving units above and below each and every single piece of equipment you have in your kitchen. But before you put up the shelves, decide what you want to store on those shelves that would be most strategic in terms of positioning to the piece of equipment. This way you can ensure that you leave enough space in between the shelves for larger items, or less space to create more shelving for smaller items.
Use hooks along your prep area to hang all your utensils. Peg boards are also a great way to store pots and pans, and the hooks can be easily moved around to fit other items. Consider installing a pot rack from the ceiling, which will free up a ton of space. If possible, put all wall units on wheels, so that you can easily move the shelving unit to mop, sweep and clean the area.
5. Deal with garbage
Having those huge garbage bins in the middle of your kitchen can waste a lot of precious floor space. Instead, install narrow garbage bins underneath the counters of your prep area, and cut a hole in the countertop so that your chefs can just sweep their trash right into the garbage. This also helps to create less waste, as your staff will be forced to compress their garbage to make it fit into smaller garbage bins.
6. Create zones
Divide your kitchen into specific areas so that each person in the kitchen has his/her own little area. This allows for less movement around the kitchen so that your people in your kitchen are not running into each other constantly. All tools and equipment needed for that zone should be within arm’s reach.
7. Purchase the right equipment
Your kitchen appliances take up the most space, so you might consider investing in a combi-oven that can bake, roast and steam instead of having a separate steaming oven. If your menu does not offer that many deep fried items, consider getting rid of the deep fryer and deep frying your food in a pot on the stovetop.
About the author:
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, president of Chiasson Consultants Inc., has been helping restaurant, foodservice, hospitality and retail operators increase sales for over 25 years. She is recognized as one of the best restaurant consultants in Toronto. Her company provides innovative and revenue-increasing foodservice and retail merchandising programs, interior design, branding, menu engineering, marketing and promotional campaigns, and much more. Contact her at 416-926-1338, toll-free at 1-888-926-6655, or visit www.chiassonconsultants.com.