Culinary Operations is Key Driver in Kitchen Design

Designing and building out a restaurant’s kitchen is not simply choosing the right equipment to execute your concept’s menu, but instead requires a thoughtful approach to culinary operations. AllDay recommends hiring a kitchen designer that tailors your kitchen and equipment choices to best facilitate your daily cooking operations.

Typically, kitchen designers are engaged as a prospective owner is looking at spaces or recently signed a lease. To start the design process, your kitchen designer will visit your space, analyze your menu, and explore your needs. The menu will help dictate the required equipment while the space and the business’s financial model will impact the capacity that the equipment needs to handle. It is a delicate balance between the various constraints of a kitchen including output efficiency, physical space, budget, and creativity of the menu. Menus may need to be modified to allow more flexibility with the other constraints

“A kitchen should be designed with the experience in mind,” says Frank Pfisterer of Tine Design. “A fast-casual establishment, for example, often would be laid out very differently than a fine dining restaurant.” Although it is a less romantic way to view a restaurant, a kitchen is essentially a manufacturer of food. Like a factory, a restaurant’s kitchen needs to be designed in a way that it can effectively and efficiently put out as much food at the appropriate pace that a concept demands. For example, a fast-casual establishment may have an open kitchen with its mise en place set up as an assembly line, visible to diners. A fine dining establishment instead may emphasize a slower, more detailed approach to plating.

A restaurant takes in raw goods like produce and protein and ultimately needs to turn those ingredients into plated dishes. Kitchen design needs to take into account every stage of development from raw ingredient storage, prep space, mise en place storage on the line, to a place to send out completed dishes. If a restaurant expects a certain number of covers per night, it will need the appropriate equipment and space to produce the necessary meals. “Additionally, a kitchen should be designed for the busiest times like a Saturday evening service in a fine dining location, for example,” says Frank.  If the operations can survive this stress test, it should be able to handle the day to day ebb and flow of service.

The flow of operations is vital to a well-functioning restaurant. An unexperienced designer may ignore the cooking process. Food needs to go from a prep area to cooking station to being plated and served. If the flow is not efficiently designed, the restaurant will not operate efficiently, decreasing the number of covers per service and increasing the complexity of the operation. Your culinary team has to cook in your kitchen every day so the ergonomics of the workflow should also be taken into consideration as any unusual movements can cause undue stress on the staff resulting in injuries or at the least unhappy workers.

If you sign a lease that was previously an existing restaurant, be sure that the space and its assets are up to code and are in good working order. “Do not make the assumption that you can reuse previous equipment, mechanicals, and even the layout in the space,” says Frank.  Codes and regulations change often so the space may not be in compliance.

Your kitchen designer should work with your architect to make sure that the space is up to code from by Department of Health, Department of Buildings, and the Fire Department of New York. Cooking equipment, ranging from the size of a sink to refrigeration space, is regulated by the Department of Health in New York. Your kitchen designer may be able directly sell you the equipment and oversee installation, Otherwise, he or she will be able to provide you the proper contacts at the appropriate retailers or wholesalers.


AllDay Industry has the experience and the network to help you develop your concept from any stage of development. From finding the perfect space, hiring the right executive chef, or equipping your kitchen, our team will act as your primary consultant to connect you to some of the best talent in the hospitality industry. Contact us at 212.346.0606 or info@alldayindustry.com.

To learn more about Frank Pfisterer and Tine Design, check out tinedesign.com.