The Plan Of Kitchen Layout
If you’re just starting out, constructing and executing a “kitchen plan” makes sense. It falls under systematic kitchen management solutions. Your kitchen plan is nothing but the blueprint of your entire restaurant kitchen. Given below are the various segments of a restaurant kitchen plan.
- Kitchen layout
All back-of-house operations are executed in the restaurant kitchen so one can only imagine the high-pressure environment. Therefore, it becomes important to equally divide different prep stations and counters so that no two operations are disturbed. Apart from this, the kitchen layout would also include things like the total number of wash stations, air ventilation, areas for commercial kitchen and safety equipment and more.
Next comes storage. There must be designated areas for storing kitchen equipment and stock. That not only makes the kitchen look more organized but also makes it easier for the chefs and other cooks to fetch these while cooking. Avoid crowding your kitchen. Replace those 2-3 bulky pieces of equipment with a single one that performs multiple functions. For example, a blender does the basic functions of chopping, slicing, grinding and more, making the functions of knives redundant and unnecessary. Going vertical always makes sense when it comes to storing those long handle pans, spoons, knives, etc. Fixing shelves and racks on kitchen walls help in decongesting the storerooms.
- Stock needs
You need to decide on your restaurant menu and it’s only then that you would know the ingredients for them. Your restaurant POS system when integrated with an inventory system will you complete visibility into your stock purchase. The inventory contains many many perishable items and your inventory sheet will help prevent unnecessary purchases or overordering. Everything can be tracked accurately.
- Guidelines on staff roles, food preparation, and kitchen sanitation
You must have set guidelines for your kitchen staff regarding their respective jobs and common rules that apply to everyone working inside. A mutually decided procedure must be followed by all chefs and cooks before they start preparing the food. Basic sanitary practices like washing/sanitizing hands before entering the kitchen and cooking food. All these sets of rules must be decided beforehand so that once the restaurant kitchen is functional, it runs well and without any errors.
- Number of staff for BOH operations
A list of all the employees you would require to run the kitchen. Right from chefs to prep cooks and servers. You must have a clear layout of their respective roles and areas inside the restaurant kitchen.
This is broadly everything that a kitchen plan must include. It may vary according to revenue generated and the type of restaurant establishment.
Challenges faced during kitchen management
A Mexican restaurant chain in the UK, Wahaca reportedly had to temporarily close nine of its outlet because a lot of the team started getting ill. As good as 200 staff members and around 160 customers were affected by a vomiting bug known as norovirus. However, the founders, Thomasina Miers, and Mark Selby continued paying those employees who were unable to find work. And within a few weeks, the restaurant was able to recover and they reopened their outlets.
It’s very common for restaurants to shut down within the initial months of their opening. The reasons for this could be many. Some of which directly link to poor kitchen management.
- Restricted space
Often chefs find themselves in tiny kitchen spaces where there is not enough room for movement. It gets even worse when kitchen equipment is not kept in the order. This not only leads to confusion between staff but also results in messed up orders.
- Poor/old equipment
Restaurant kitchen staff must be given the right tools to work with. Nobody likes to work on worn-out equipment since it contradicts the entire concept of machines and electronics. Traditional equipment also takes up a lot of electricity which then results in high electricity bills.
- Differences between staff members
“Although the skills aren’t hard to learn, finding the happiness and finding the satisfaction and finding fulfillment in continuously serving somebody else something good to eat, is what makes a really good restaurant.” – Mario Batali
If the restaurant kitchen environment is chaotic there’s bound to be differences between employees. For example, the line cooks must make sure they do all the chopping and peeling before the chefs come in. Whereas the chefs must brief others so that efforts don’t get wasted and each employee makes themselves useful.
Related article – Hire a chef in India – Doing it the Right Way
- Unsafe kitchen environment
You never know when a restaurant critique or health and sanitation inspector pay you a surprise visit. Constant smoke, fire, and other fumes tend to blacken the kitchen walls and block the ventilator fans. This not only makes the restaurant kitchen look bleak but also makes it unhealthy for people to work and cook there. This is one of the reasons for a growing attrition rate in restaurants. As a part of kitchen management solution, safety must be looked into as a priority.
- Irregular flow of orders
Even if one function gets interrupted, the entire flow gets disturbed, almost like a chain reaction. Imagine the maintenance and cleaning staff forgets to clean one station before shutting down the kitchen. The next day, the chef will not have clean utensils to cook in or the line/prep cooks would have to do both the jobs, clean and do initial steps of cooking. The work keeps piling up thereby affecting the subsequent processes of cooking, plating, and serving.
- Technology breakdown
When the kitchen technology hardware and software are not updated on time, a technical glitch is bound to happen. If not rectified immediately, this problem temporarily slows down the entire restaurant. And using the latest technology is a huge part of kitchen management. Therefore, it’s important to regularly update and use new software that’s compatible with the different devices that you use in the kitchen.
It’s time to cook!
“Although a great restaurant experience must include great food, a bad restaurant experience can be achieved through bad service alone. Ideally, service is invisible. You notice it only when something goes wrong.”
A well-managed kitchen plays a huge role in your restaurant’s success. Just like a well-oiled machine. Kitchen management, if done systematically makes it enjoyable and easy for everyone working in your restaurant. The guests waiting on the other side of the restaurant are constantly waiting to be awed. Every commercial kitchen should aim at doing exactly that. Customer experience should be of paramount importance and a good one is mostly dictated by the kind of food that comes out of a restaurant kitchen. Adapting to the latest trends and adopting efficient technology in the kitchen will help your restaurant grow tremendously.