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A commercial kitchen layout can determine the workflow efficiency of a food business.

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A commercial kitchen layout can determine the workflow efficiency of a food business.

  • The layout for commercial kitchens is the arrangement and flow of activities inside a food facility.

  • The right kitchen layout helps to keep efficiency and avoid accidents, food wastage, and cross-contamination.

  • FoodDocs can help you easily create commercial kitchen layouts and a comprehensive digital HACCP plan.

An appropriate and well-planned commercial kitchen layout can improve your operation's efficiency and promote cost savings. Although planning a layout may not be at the top of your checklist when planning to open a commercial kitchen, it is undeniably a priority for any food business. Whether you are planning to build a commercial kitchen from scratch or rent a commercial space, building a conducive layout can help you maximize your operations. 

Accidents, food wastage, and cross-contamination can all be significantly addressed with a careful consideration of the commercial kitchen layout. In addition, the speed and productiveness of your team can be improved if the kitchen layout is made to avoid bottlenecks and allow a seamless kitchen flow.


Learn what makes an effective commercial kitchen layout and how to design a kitchen layout with FoodDocs HACCP software automatically.



What is a commercial kitchen?

A commercial kitchen is a food business facility solely dedicated to preparing food for large volumes sent to smaller operating food businesses such as restaurants or smaller kitchens. Other food premises can rent commercial kitchens or opt for leasing options to prepare large batches of food. Commercial kitchens also work with ghost kitchens and catering kitchens, which are establishments that prepare food but are only available for pickup and delivery.

Commercial kitchens are typically complete when it comes to food preparation equipment and cooking facilities and can handle bulk preparations. Correct facilities follow strict food safety regulations, which include proper layout to minimize food safety hazards.


What are the main areas of a commercial kitchen?

To fulfill operations and prepare large amounts of food, a commercial kitchen must have the following main areas and key components in no particular order:

  • Receiving dock for raw materials
  • Storage area (e.g., Wet and dry storage areas)
  • Food preparation area
  • Cooking stations
  • Service area
  • Cleaning area

Since commercial kitchens are mainly cooking facilities that focus on preparing food rather than serving them in-house, a common layout does not have a dining area. Some large commercial kitchens may also have an area where employees can change uniforms.


What is the layout of a commercial kitchen?

The layout for a commercial kitchen refers to the arrangement of facilities, restaurant equipment, and routines inside a commercial kitchen. The layout determines careful consideration of the machines' placement and the food handlers' particular kitchen flow.

A commercial kitchen layout must be flexible, efficient, and not prone to accidents. This layout will represent how your team executes a food service process while considering safety and organization. It brings the dynamic elements of a kitchen together to form a cohesive assembly with optimum output.

A kitchen's layout will depend on the available commercial kitchen equipment for use, the target preparation services, and the target number of employees the kitchen will accommodate. The layout will involve the following operations:

Based on these operations, the most optimum restaurant kitchen floor plan can be selected. There are many known layouts for a commercial kitchen, each with its advantages and disadvantages. The optimal layout for catering operations may vary from operations for retail food stores. Catering staff is expected to operate differently when compared with retail food service staff.

Some layouts for larger establishments consider storage requirements for washing up facility for employees and drying facilities for washed linens.


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What are the 6 types of kitchen layouts?

Commercial kitchen layouts and design principles may vary depending on the intended production operations of the kitchen and the available space. Despite which layout is used for a commercial kitchen, the efficiency and safety of the operations are always priorities.

Below, we have listed the 6 most widely used commercial kitchen layout examples and highlighted which is the most viable option in different situations.

  • Island layout. This kitchen configuration places the meal cooking section and commercial work table space at the center of the kitchen area. All machines and food equipment used for cooking, such as burners, commercial fryers, stock pot range, and baking stations, are collectively placed at the center counter space, with all other parts of the kitchen stationed around it. The food prep station and other sections of the kitchen are placed around the island in a circular flow.

The island design for a commercial kitchen plan promotes communication among the different parts of the kitchen and allows better supervision by the manager. Since the meal cooking area is the last step before delivery, all other areas revolve around this operation. Using the island layout requires an adequate amount of space to avoid obstruction between the different sections.


Island layout

Commercial kitchen island layout


  • Assembly line. The assembly line configuration highlights the central preparation system of cooking a dish with a single line. This line consists of food preparation aspects, meal cooking, and service in a single orderly assembly. The configuration minimizes cross-contamination on surfaces for food preparation from unnecessary interaction once the product moves to the next station.

This common kitchen layout is ideal for the type of restaurant with repetitive operations, such as fast food type of restaurant or quick service facilities. All other operations besides food preparation, such as the bulk storage area and receiving bay, are placed beside the main assembly line kitchen layout. Such a configuration removes unnecessary interaction among employees. The delivery personnel will not have access to the preparation area.


Assembly line

Commercial kitchen assembly line layout


  • Zoning layout. Zoning refers to the dedication of ample spaces for each main kitchen component in an organized manner. The zone-style layout is favorable for professional kitchens that accommodate multiple dishes at a time. The zone layout allows food handlers to focus on their tasks.


Zoning layout


Commercial kitchen zoning layout


  • Ergonomic layout. The ergonomic layout prioritizes the food handlers' ease of movement and comfort. This layout reduces the unnecessary space between closely related operations to minimize movement and save energy. Pieces of equipment and ingredient stocks are stored close to each other to speed up the food service process.

With items near the equipment and catering appliances intended for processing, food handlers would only require a limited space between prep tables to operate well.


Ergonomic layout

Commercial kitchen ergonomic layout


  • Open layout. An open layout for a commercial kitchen is one where customers or the front-of-the-house section has visual access to the kitchen. This means that people from outside the kitchen can see the food service process happening inside.

This type of layout provides a unique dining experience, especially for larger facilities, and is increasingly becoming popular in high-end type of restaurant kitchen displays. In an open layout setup, insulation may be a priority to prevent the heat from the kitchen from transferring to the service area. The layout improves the speed of service with the short distance between the kitchen and the delivery area.


Open layout


Commercial kitchen open layout


  • Galley layout. The galley layout is often a good choice for a smaller commercial kitchen with limited space and kitchen environment. It optimizes the space and kitchen functions by placing all stations within the food premises. The layout allows easy access to other sections by providing a common space for movement in the center of the kitchen of any type of restaurant.



Commercial kitchen galley layout


Choosing the correct kitchen layout can improve your operations and optimize your food service process through a conducive kitchen environment. It is a significant operation to ensure your business can work at its best. The wrong kitchen layout can lead to the unoptimized potential of the kitchen and translate as a wasted opportunity. Additionally, this can lead to a higher risk of accidents and increase food safety hazard occurrences in any type of restaurant.


Why do you need commercial kitchen design?

A good commercial kitchen design or layout provides a significant advantage to food businesses. It is a key element in achieving optimum operations and boosting product output. A correct facility layout will reduce the likelihood of problems, such as accidents or downtime due to inefficient kitchen staff and machines.


In particular, a commercial kitchen layout can provide the following benefits to your operations:

  1. Food safety. A required careful consideration in building a commercial kitchen floor plan is prioritizing the safety of food. This is achieved by analyzing the potential hazards and adapting accordingly to the most efficient layout to minimize food safety hazards. Machines and heavy equipment are properly placed to minimize accidents, and the convenience of clean-up tool placements is considered for faster response times when spills or food particles occur to avoid having a dirty kitchen.
  2. Time-saving. A clear layout of the entire food facility can help familiarize food handlers with the food creation process. Logical placements of machines, utensil racks, commercial sinks, and storage areas can reduce downtime when food handlers need to operate continuously. The layout serves as a clear-cut instruction for food handlers regarding which areas they are more focused on and which equipment they are allowed to operate.
  3. Efficient workflow. With an organized layout and kitchen equipment grouping, smooth-running kitchen work can seamlessly flow without unnecessary interruptions from different sections of the commercial kitchen. This can be achieved even with limited space. For example, a dedicated service table and food contact surface will prevent servers from getting in the way of experienced chefs when they need to pack or pick up orders. An appropriate commercial layout can also help managers supervise their team more clearly with better movement.
  4. Higher output. Fast work means higher output for your operations without obstruction or unnecessary operations and downtime. The kitchen staff can work faster in an organized kitchen while being compliant with food regulations, and products can be delivered on time.
  5. Boost the house staff morale. Good working conditions are part of having an appropriate commercial kitchen layout. Food employees working in a kitchen with a good workflow can get the job done faster and have a higher sense of accomplishment. Additionally, when the ergonomics of working is considered in making the commercial kitchen floor plan, employees can work more comfortably while having little to no stress and can produce a better quality of product.
  6. More efficient cleaning. The availability and accessibility of quality cleaning equipment and sanitizing supplies in a commercial kitchen can improve kitchen efficiency. Non-food storage areas, such as kitchen cabinets, for suitable cleaning agents, chemical storage, handwashing compartment sink, and laundry area, apart from being a food safety regulation, all help to keep a food facility free from food safety hazards in busy kitchens. Some layouts also clearly state the materials used for the kitchen and external walls for better visualization. 


The benefits of having a correct facility layout can only be achieved with an appropriate plan. The layout will depend on the operations that the commercial kitchen will target to accommodate. What you need is a versatile solution to building a commercial kitchen layout.

The FoodDocs digital HACCP plan builder features an easy way to create your kitchen layouts and food location plan. Our software can help you create your business layout as easily as using the drag-and-drop method in our application. Additionally, build plans for water and sewerage, equipment, and logistics plans with our software and get a complete HACCP plan with it.


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How to design a commercial kitchen?

Designing a commercial kitchen and building a spacious layout requires several careful considerations and restrictions. Every country has its own regulations and public health laws regarding which facilities are mandatory for a commercial kitchen and which are less of a priority.


To help you logically build your commercial kitchen layout plan, use the following steps as a guide:

  1. Determine the operations needed to complete the selected menu products.
  2. List the necessary equipment needed for operations while considering the food locations' space and size.
  3. Layout stations, equipment, and rooms according to the principle of the chosen kitchen arrangement.
  4. Consult an expert on food safety regulations on a commercial kitchen floor plan and revise the plan accordingly.
  5. Verify the size of the location and equipment to be installed to ensure the feasibility of the layout.


When designing a commercial kitchen layout, you must consider the following universal factors:

  • Target operations, including menu items. Before opening a commercial kitchen, your team formulated a business plan. In this plan, you have already laid out your target operations and the ideal types of dishes to prepare. Your target operations will dictate which machines to procure and the segments of your kitchen layout.
  • Available size of the facility and budget. These following factors may act as restrictions and determine the maximum capacity of the commercial kitchen. The facility size can be more flexible if you start the kitchen from construction rather than leasing a space. The kitchen space consideration and your construction budget may also dictate the sizes of the machine and utility equipment to purchase.
  • Ease of cleaning, sanitation, and maintenance. A hygienic commercial kitchen design and installation can help reduce the time for cleaning and sanitation and ensure the safety of food. In this case, the design also pertains to the type of materials used, that is if they are easy to clean. In addition, the layout must always consider and prioritize the availability of cleaning stations for more secure food safety compliance.
  • Food safety regulations. In some countries, food safety regulations include the number of preparation sinks needed for a safe food operation. These regulations may also include specifications on the type of materials and equipment to use for a commercial kitchen. Always involve your local food safety department in the process to ensure that your layout complies with the significant regulations.
  • Workflow. There are several types of layouts for a commercial kitchen. Some layouts highlight communication efficiency, whereas others maximize their use of space. Choosing the correct layout will help achieve optimum material use and potential.
  • Machine and equipment placement. The commercial kitchen design for your kitchen space will also significantly vary depending on the size of your machines. If you have very large machines, you may need to opt for a layout that will optimize the ample kitchen space for equipment while still considering floor space for kitchen footprint or traffic.
  • Possibility of expansion. All food businesses aim to expand. At some point, after stabilizing the set goal for your commercial kitchen, you would need to open a new food location or expand your business through remodeling. Some business owners set aside unused space for a potential expansion. If you have a larger kitchen, this strategy can help you save the trouble with reconstruction, which will stop your operations.

While considering these factors, build your commercial kitchen floor plan by involving your executive chef, appointed supervisor, and other key employees. As they are the ones working firsthand in the kitchen, they will have valuable input for the layout.

You can consult a commercial kitchen designer to help design your commercial kitchen layout while considering important regulations, such as standards for food storage. Use our digital solution at FoodDocs to effortlessly create your layouts in the most efficient way while considering the location of your food business.


commercial kitchen


Does a commercial kitchen need a fire door?

The requirement for a fire door can be case-to-case in the US and UK food industries. In general, kitchen traffic doors are not required to be fire doors, whereas the doors that lead to the service area and waste disposal rooms must be fire doors.


Does a commercial kitchen need a floor drain?

Floor drains are vital for a commercial kitchen. A food business must have an adequate drainage system in the U.S. and under the FDA Food Code as well as the building health codes in the U.S. Similarly, the installation of a system that removes waste water quickly to prevent food contamination by bacteria is required by UK regulations.


What is the minimum size for a commercial kitchen?

There is no minimum size for a commercial kitchen. Despite this, the average size of a commercial kitchen is estimated to be 1000 square feet. This information is based on a recent poll to determine the elements that affect the start-up costs for a restaurant. Specifically, the average calculated size for a kitchen is 1,051 square footage.


How many sinks should be in a commercial kitchen?

At a minimum, every commercial kitchen must have two sinks: one dedicated sink for washing and rinsing food equipment and cooking tools and another solely for handwashing. The dedicated sink for warewashing is recommended to be a double or three-compartment sink to wash and sanitize food equipment properly. The dedicated pot wash sink must not be used for other purposes to avoid the accumulation of food waste. 

Apart from food preparation sinks, a separate janitorial sink with hose connections is also recommended. This janitorial sink must be placed away from the food preparation area to prevent water droplets from contaminating cooked and raw products. All types of preparation sinks must have a regulator for water temperature. Correct water temperature in sink is essential for proper cleaning.

Depending on the size of your commercial kitchen, the number of dedicated sinks may increase. All preparation sinks must be properly labeled to dictate their purpose and avoid cross-contamination of products.


How to build a commercial kitchen?

Building a commercial kitchen is almost similar to creating any other food business. The main difference is that a commercial kitchen least prioritizes having a service area since the establishment focuses on producing big batches for other food businesses.

A commercial kitchen would require a business plan that contains all of the necessary plans for the establishment, including:

  • Company profile
  • The kitchen layout and restaurant concept
  • Menu and type of food to offer

In addition to the business plan, you would also need to procure food equipment and large machinery to operate high volumes of orders. In compliance with regulations, you would also need to secure licenses and permits, such as the following:

  • Business license
  • Employee health permit
  • Conditional use permit
  • Food handling permit

After securing licenses and permits for a food establishment, your commercial kitchen operations must have an established food safety plan to address food safety hazards. The most widely known and effective food safety plan is the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point plan or HACCP plan. With the help of AI, you will get your HACCP Plan done within an hour.

Instead of using the traditional way of building a food safety plan that takes months of preparation, verification, and implementation, you can create one ready for implementation immediately.



Automatically created HACCP plan from FoodDocs


Commercial kitchen installation

Commercial kitchen planning also entails choosing the correct materials for your infrastructure and the equipment and utensils used for your food establishment. Based on prerequisite programs, kitchens must be built in accordance with minimum food safety standards. The materials used to build the kitchen must be hygienic, easy to clean, and will not attract accidents. This commercial kitchen design principle must be applied from the kitchen walls up to the smallest details, such as your electrical outlets.

Consider the following points for the design process of your commercial kitchen:

  • External walls must be securely sealed to prevent pests from entering the kitchen.
  • Use fire-proof materials for external wall surfaces.
  •  Install lockable wall cupboards to maximize the space.
  • Choose easy-to-clean solid surface materials for table tops.
  • Materials that come into contact with food must not be absorbent of grease and food liquids.
  • Plates and other crockery storage areas must be placed near the exit table of the warewashing area to avoid contamination.
  • Provide correct facility storage areas within the food premises for the following:
    • Packaging material 
    • Dry food
    • Raw food
    • Refrigerated storage
    • Non-food storage
    • Recyclable materials
  • Provide an area for commercial catering equipment grouping for easier access. 
  • Strategically place frying stations away from other equipment and service tools to avoid splashes. Use a fry-holding bin and heat lamp.
  • Invest in large cold holding units to prevent overloading, such as reaching the freezer storage capacity to ensure the safety of food and promote the rotation of stock.
  • Place dedicated waste facilities outside the kitchen area.
  • For larger facilities, provide enough handwashing and janitorial sinks for convenience and ensure the safety of food.
  • Ensure that kitchen lighting is equipped with guards to avoid attracting pests. 
  • Add an adequate air ventilation system to prevent having a heated kitchen.
  • Install filters to ensure that pests will not enter the kitchen through ventilation.

Designs and materials for building your commercial kitchen must always follow local and federal food safety regulations. Some laws may require particular material grades for safety, while others may be a bit lenient. The design of your commercial kitchen must always prioritize safety for both your employees and the food being prepared.


Commercial kitchen layout regulations UK and US

The difference in the description between businesses may entail differences in governing regulations. Below, we show some of the significant commercial kitchen layout regulations for the US and the UK.


Waste management

United States

In the US, waste management guidelines are provided under the FDA Food Code to prevent having a dirty kitchen. Some of the key items regarding waste management under this document include the following:

  • Machines that dispense liquid food waste in bulk, such as vending machines and refrigerated storage, must have a built-in receptacle for collection storage and easier cleaning.
  • The machine must have an automatic shutoff function that will prevent the accumulation of food waste and overflow.
  • A dedicated sink for service fitted with a floor drain must be provided for cleaning mops and disposal of liquid waste.
  • Comfort rooms must not be used to dispose of liquid waste. Only store food waste in dedicated waste facilities.
  • Durable, cleanable, pest-resistant, leak-proof, and nonabsorbent trash receptacles must be provided with appropriate lids.
  • A designated prep storage area for holding food waste must be located separately from the kitchen equipment and tools area.


United Kingdom

Similar food waste regulations concerning the kitchen layout are provided by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK. They are backed by other food safety laws, such as the Water Industry Act 1991. This law mainly identifies mishandling food waste and dirty items, including the uncontrolled discharge of fats, oils, grease, and other examples of food wastage, as a criminal offense. 

The FSA provides regulations on managing food waste through a proper layout for food premises, such as the following:

  • Commercial kitchens and other food establishments must have adequate and hygienic storage space for food waste and waste storage containers.
  • Receptacles for served-but-uneaten food must be in close proximity to the dedicated sinks for washing,
  • Leftovers can be reused if processed and stored correctly.
  • Waste cooking oils must be properly disposed of. They can block drains and cause other food contamination problems.
  • Laws on how to handle animal by-products for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.


commercial kitchen safety


Fire safety

United States

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides codes and strict standards for food establishments in the US. Since the commercial kitchen environment is filled with fire hazards, regulations are strict. For example, commercial cooking equipment in a kitchen requires an individual protection system, as stated under NFPA 96. Under this code, all cooking equipment must have a hood or a duct system.

The code also specifies that high-risk food environments such as broilers, cold storage equipment, and dry storage space must have fire suppression systems. It also specifies the need for exhaust fans, grease containment, and the frequency of cleaning hoods.


United Kingdom

In the UK, fire regulations require clear and properly placed fire exits, extinguishers, proper ventilation systems, and alarms to suppress any cases of fire within the kitchen environment. These restaurant fire safety measures must be clearly represented in the layout. Regulations also require that doors and other openings have the same fire rating as commercial kitchen wall surfaces.


Employee and food safety

In determining the layout of commercial kitchen, the safety of food handlers and the food being prepared are priorities. The kitchen environment must always include careful consideration of safe working conditions for every employee and how to minimize food safety hazards.


United Kingdom

As a law in the UK, commercial kitchens are subject to establishing a HACCP food safety plan. This food safety plan identifies and addresses food safety hazards before they occur. Other laws that pertain to food safety in the UK include The Food Safety Act of 1990 and the General Food Law Regulation (EC) No 178/2002.


United States

In the US, food establishments dealing with meat and poultry are mandated to have individually established HACCP plans. A comprehensive risk-based preventive program is required under the Food Safety Modernization Act for other food products prepared in a commercial kitchen. 2

To help you maintain compliance with food safety regulations, use our free resources from our HACCP plan template hub.


Easy tool for creating a commercial kitchen layout

A complete and accurate layout or floor plan for a commercial kitchen is essential to your documentation and correct facility plans. Some food establishment owners hire experts to draft, visualize and implement the commercial kitchen layout as the task requires knowledge of safety regulations and even ergonomics. Building a floor plan for your commercial kitchen can cost you a lot, even before you start your operations.

FoodDocs can help you automatically create your commercial kitchen layout and food location plans with our digital solution. The solution can get the job done as easily through the following:

  • Set up your commercial kitchen address, and the software can automatically create a food location plan for you.
  • You can easily drag and drop points to create your own kitchen layout.
  • You do not need external applications to build your kitchen layout, and the plan can be done in just a few minutes.

Floor plan

Kitchen layout plan in FoodDocs


In addition to a floor plan, our digital solution can help you comply with other water and sewage systems regulations, equipment plans, and logistics. These plans use a similar drag-and-drop method to build a layout in minutes.

This digital solution is part of our main food safety software. FoodDocs strives to help food establishments effortlessly create food safety plans. Our digital HACCP plan builder was developed to automatically create a comprehensive digital HACCP plan with the following benefits:

  • The software would only require you to answer a few basic questions that will describe your operations to our software.
  • With the HACCP builder software, you can create the digital HACCP plan in 1 hour, taking into account your local regulations and other similar companies.
  • You can get a complete and customizable HACCP plan even with limited knowledge of food safety and without the need to hire a consultant.


Did you know that our system will automatically generate a HACCP plan with the following components based on your answers? 

  • Relevant standard operating procedures
  • Prerequisite programs
  • Basic flow chart diagram
  • Hazard analysis
  • Critical control points with appropriate critical limits
  • Monitoring procedures
  • Corrective action plan
  • Verification system
  • Recordkeeping and documentation system

The entire process of making your digital HACCP plan can be done in just 1 hour. You can get a comprehensive plan normally done for months in just a few steps, and it can already be implemented immediately.

Our system aims to make all components of food safety accessible for all food premises. Allow our software to help you set up your commercial kitchen for success. The best part is that you can try the software for free.



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