Prior to tackling the kitchen design, a menu should be established. This will aid in selecting the equipment needed, which will dictate some of the layout. Proper layout will help optimize positive attributes of a space while minimizing the negative, a trick that is essential to having a properly functioning kitchen. Space limitations can be a serious problem, and are common in older locations. Use a small space to help minimize menu options and select proportional equipment. Safety, including proper lighting and space to move freely is another consideration, which goes hand in hand with ergonomics, often the prime consideration of kitchen design. Creating a safe space while eliminating wasted time and energy will keep employees happy, and prevent injuries and fatigue.
An ergonomic layout is a strictly functional setup, one that has equipment arranged in the best way for the chef and kitchen staff. The placement of equipment doesn't take energy efficiency into account. One example, given by foodservicewarehouse.com, is placing an undercounter freezer underneath or next to a fryer. Though not the most energy efficient idea, fried foods make the trip from freezer to fryer without the chef having to take any physical steps. This layout may require additional equipment, and may take up more space than a more focused design.
An assembly line style has equipment and stations set up in order of use. It is especially helpful in a pizza kitchen or sandwich shop where lots of similar food is produced. Everything is, for the most part, in a straight line, and moves smoothly from one step of production to another. This is a highly efficient design, both in time consideration and in ergonomics, and may be adjusted to fit in small locations. Keep in mind it is not ideal for all types of food prep, particularly in a diverse restaurant setting where many different dishes are prepared.
One of the most widely used kitchen designs, the zone layout has work stations that are separated. Food preparation, cooking, refrigeration and an ice station are all separate parts of the kitchen. It is an ideal setup in a kitchen where several different meats are used, or in a restaurant with a diverse menu. In this kitchen design, cross contamination is all but eliminated, dirty dishes and garbage never come into contact with food prep areas, and chefs work at a single station, which eliminates unnecessary movement around the kitchen. This style may be adapted for small or large kitchens, and may incorporate two or more food prep blocks as required.