Commercial Kitchen Design | The FSW Guide to Designing a Functional Kitchen


FSW Kitchen Design

With opening a restaurant comes a complex set of issues to consider.  Food costs, menu design, staffing needs, permits and building costs and codes all have to be carefully thought out. But the most important area you have to consider is the heart and soul of your restaurant, the kitchen. How is it going to flow?

Follow our guide for tips throughout the entire kitchen design process, from receiving to waste management.

Boxes and Dolly


The receiving area is where  all of your food and beverage products are delivered. Consider the kind of food that will be coming in. Will you need refrigeration at the receiving dock? Or will most of your product be going into dry and cold storage right away? Think about this step early on and you’ll have a smooth process from receiving to serving to waste.

Dry & Cold Food Storage


Every restaurant has a dry storage and a cold storage area. How much your restaurant will need depends on a number of factors. How big is the space you are working in? How much food do you expect to serve to your guests? Do you want to keep refrigeration under the line for prepped foods? Will you need room for speed racks in your cold storage area? How much shelf space do you need in dry storage?

  • Cold Storage

    There are a variety of ways to get the perfect amount of cold storage for your space. Freezers and commercial refrigeration systems are versatile, so finding the right one for your kitchen is as simple as doing a little research. There are undercounter refrigerators, roll-ins, glass-doors, walk-ins and more. The same goes for commercial freezers. Shop Commercial Refrigeration

  • Dry Storage

    Your dry storage area will be much more organized and, more importantly, follow health code if you have utility shelves. Storing dry ingredients on shelving units aids in proper stacking, which in turn prevents boxes of food and ingredients from falling and causing injuries.

Dry & Cold Food Storage


Where and how you set up your prep area will depend on the flow of your kitchen. How close or far do you want the prep table from the ranges, ovens, fryers, and other appliances? Do you want built-in refrigeration? Do you want to store food processors and other smallwares under your prep tables for easy access? If you’re looking for the latter, stationary prep tables may be the best option. If you are opening a deli that serves fresh sandwiches, a sandwich/salad prep table with cold storage would work better.

Shop Food Prep Tables

Food Production Station


Now we get to the big(ger) stuff. Think commercial ranges, ovens, steamers, and ice machines. Does your space allow for a range with ten gas burners, or do you need to fit a four-burner range next to a griddle, fryer and steamer along the same wall? Once you understand the flow of your space, you can decide which equipment will suit your space without sacrificing efficiency.


Serving Station
This is the part where you think about where you want your flatware, dishes, drinkware, serving trays, pitchers and bussing bins. The servers should have their own stations where a certain amount of this is kept. Most of the dishes should be stored near the line so they’re easily accessible to your kitchen staff, especially your cooks.

Your hot-holding area should also be considered. Any restaurant that serves hot food needs a hot-holding area to keep foods warm until they are ready to be served. The size will depend on the volume of food your restaurant produces.

Dishwasher and Mop

Dishes and Cleaning

The dish washing area is one of the most important areas in your commercial kitchen design. Without it, your kitchen cannot function. You should have at least a three-compartment sink for washing, rinsing, and sanitizing if you are not using a dishwasher. Loading dishwashers come in a variety of sizes. For limited space, an undercounter dishwasher may be the best option. Larger spaces can use door type dishwashers or even conveyor dishwashers. This area is also where you’d want to store dish washing racks and sani-buckets.

Also, think about where your cleaning supply closet is going to be. Chemicals and supplies such as mops, brooms, brillo pads and sponges should be kept separate from the prep and production areas. Chemicals must be kept in a locked area.

Shop Commercial Dishwashers

Recycling, Cardboard and Trash Bag

Trash and Waste

This is the final step in the commercial kitchen design process. Where is your waste going to go? A few things to think about include a recycling program, the number waste bins you’re going to need, and who your waste management company is going to be. Oh, and don’t forget about trash liners. It’s a messy day when you run out of those.

Think about your kitchen design like a puzzle. All of the pieces should fit together in the safest, most efficient way possible. Because your commercial kitchen design relies heavily on space you are using, it is easier to work around the layout of that space, making it easier to come up with a flow.


About Author

Rachael Niswander

Rachael is a writer in Denver, Colorado with an affinity for food and all things food-related. When she isn't writing or doing other foodie things, Rachael enjoys reading, hooping, tattoos, dancing, learning about herbs and natural living, and spending time with friends, her husband Michael and their two cats, Tip Toes and Pippin.


  1. Hi Rachael! That was really well written. I was looking for insight for a college architectural project, and you’ve given me all that I needed.

    • Rachael Moyte

      Thank you for your kind words, Aslaha! I’m glad you found what you needed and good luck on your project. Thanks again for stopping by.

  2. I’m trying to figure out how to layout a very small kitchen. This article was helpful, but I need more help. I country required me to get an engineer to layout my cafe for the renovation, but he doesn’t really know how to layout the kitchen, service areas etc. The actual building is a little over 2,900 square feet. The kitchen is only 27’x 9′ with a 4’x4′ storage closet in the left back corner. Where can I get more help laying out my small kitchen?

  3. Thank you for another fantastic post. Where else may just anyone get that type of information in such a perfect approach of writing?
    I’ve a presentation subsequent week, and I am on the search for such information.

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