Commercial Kitchen Design Considerations

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Planning a commercial kitchen

You may be the owner of an existing commercial kitchen that is need of a total refit, or you may be someone building a commercial kitchen for the first time. Both projects have their own challenges, but they will both have the same final goal in mind – quality food that creates profit.

Profitability through functionality

The design, purchase and fitting of your commercial kitchen will have a huge part to play in the overall profitability of your business venture, based on the ability of your kitchen team to produce quality food. Aside from the team itself, this will depend on the efficiency and durability of the equipment used and also the layout of the kitchen itself.

Good functionality means that stations are set up in a way that food can be prepared without the added difficulty of travelling for food items or equipment, and a commercial kitchen design should create functionality in order to reach your ultimate goal, which is a successful service, every session.

Focus points for commercial kitchen design

There are some key elements of a kitchen fitting to keep in mind;

  • Safety,
  • Budget,
  • Equipment,
  • Layout,
  • Get some help.


Many thousands of documents have been written about kitchen safety and food safety and the subject is too large to go into much detail about here, but it should go without saying that the number one consideration of any business is safety. Food safety, building safety, fire safety and public safety are all paramount in your pursuit of the perfect place to make your food. Consider and apply all legal requirements and Australian standards at all times when designing and utilising your commercial kitchen space.

commercial kitchen units


Having an initial budget is only one element of a budget plan. It is also important to include a contingency plan of, say, 10% of the initial budget. This money is only used when there is an unforeseen expense (there likely will be!) and is not used for anything else such as purchasing equipment or planned labour costs.

The next part of a budget plan includes some discipline – keep within your spending plan and keep a daily eye on expenditure. This is probably the hardest part of budgeting, but the whole point of setting a budget – especially for a business – is keeping to it and keeping watch on it to minimise costs and maximise your bottom line. If you can do this, your business plan will not suffer too badly.


The equipment you buy must fit into the budget, of course. It will also need to fit in the physical space available, which is discussed in the next section. To find out what kitchen equipment you need, the best thing to do is to head over to a kitchen equipment supplier’s website. Make sure you pick one that has a wide variety of options.

If you’re in the Newcastle area of NSW, try Coles Catering Equipment. They supply a wide range of catering equipment, but they can also design and install your kitchen with you, which will save you an awful lot of time, effort and potentially, money. Coles also install refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, as well as performing maintenance on all of it. Best of all, Coles can help with commercial kitchen financing. Perfect!

You will be likely to need a lot of different types of gear so here is a general, non-exhaustive checklist of things you should consider – these are listed in alphabetical order only:

  • Air systems for the kitchen,
  • Benchtop cooking equipment, such as a toaster, blender, fryer, griddle, hot water urn, milkshake mixer, pie warmer, rice cooker and so on,
  • Boiling equipment,
  • Chargrilling equipment,
  • Combi ovens,
  • Fire safety and first aid equipment, such as a sprinkler system, extinguishers and blankets,
  • Floor drainage systems,
  • Floor mats,
  • Food blenders, processors, mixers and slicers,
  • Gas ovens and cooktops,
  • Glass and dishwashing equipment,
  • Microwaves,
  • Pizza ovens and pasta cookers,
  • Pots and pans,
  • Range hood exhaust system,
  • Refrigeration and freezing equipment, walk in cooling unit,
  • Salamander,
  • Shelving,
  • Stainless steel benches,
  • Storage drawers and wall hooks,
  • Utensils,
  • Vacuum packing machines,
  • Warming equipment.


The equipment you buy must also fit into the physical space of the kitchen. One way to ensure the equipment physically fits would be to create a plan out of paper, using one of 5 general kitchen design styles:

  • Assembly line layout
  • Island layout
  • Zone-style layout
  • Galley layout
  • Open kitchen layout

Assembly line layout

This style of commercial kitchen layout works in a line from the start of a meal (preparation) to the end (the pass). Generally speaking, storage and cleaning would be in a separate section, behind the assembly line. This type of kitchen is great for producing lots of covers with a small menu, such as fast-food restaurants or limited menu establishments.

Island layout

The middle of the room houses an island workspace that allows people to walk all the way around it and around the edge of the kitchen are other workspaces. The cooking is performed on the island and the outside edge areas are used for dishwashing, service, storage and prep. This layout is great for enhanced team communication, using the central area as the main focus of team leading, but it does require lots of space.

Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, catering equipment
Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, catering equipment

Zone-style layout

This type of kitchen has different sections for different food types, as opposed to different work tasks, so one section may be used for desserts, one for salad, one for meat and so on, allowing different types of meals to be cooked simultaneously – great for very busy restaurants or establishments with a large menu.

Galley layout

Designed for very small kitchens, the galley layout means that equipment is placed in the 2 longest parallel walls, saving space. It does create more need for the cook to physically move, so it is not ideal for larger spaces.

Open kitchen layout

An open kitchen allows the guests to see into the kitchen area. This is done by opening up a wall, which invites the guest to be a part of the cooking process and also shows how clean and efficient your establishment is. An open kitchen does, however, take away some storage space and limits the potential placement of hazards like gas stoves or boiling water, for the safety of the guests.

Build a model layout

In order to decide which style might work best in your space, try a paper layout. This will show you where your equipment will best fit and how efficient the layout may or may not be.

  1. Make a paper floor the shape of your space, to scale.
  2. Try a scale of 1cm = 10cm to start. In other words, if your floor is 5m long, your piece of paper that is in the shape of the floor should be 50cm (0.5m) long.
  3. Next, make a list of all the floor standing equipment and benches you want to include in your kitchen.
  4. Measure out the physical area each item takes up at its widest point. For example, if you want to buy a work bench that is, say 2m long and 50cm wide, you would cut out a piece of paper that is 20cm long and 5cm wide.
  5. Do this with all the items you want and see how they fit into the floor space.
  6. Lay all the cut-outs on the floorplan and move them around in the shape of the layouts mentioned above and see what works best.
  7. Consider elements of the kitchen that cannot be easily moved such as:
    1. Doors and windows
    2. Fire exits
    3. Power points
    4. Ventilation
    5. Existing plumbing
air conditioning, Refrigeration, Commercial Catering Equipment

Get some help

If you are designing, re-designing or re-fitting for the first or 50th time, doing it on your own can be almost all-consuming. This article has touched on a lot of the aspects to be considered, but there is so much other detail to pass your mind over, that its best to do so in tandem with a design team.

A kitchen equipment manufacturer and kitchen design company such as Coles Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Catering Equipment will be able to guide you through the process, the red tape, the design and the fitting of your future commercial kitchen.

Call in Coles, the commercial kitchen experts

Coles can help you with the purchase and installation of catering and refrigeration equipment, cabinets, ware washers, stainless steel fabrication, remote refrigeration installations, exhaust hoods, and mechanical ventilation.

Coles Refrigeration can manage your project from start to finish, providing design facilities, construction and installation of all your food and beverage requirements. With the correct involvement and communication of architects or clients, Coles Refrigeration also offers a full kitchen, bar and refrigeration design plan to scale prior to submitting quotations.

Coles can provide a highly efficient and professional kitchen, bar and refrigeration design and planning service, working closely with you to produce the optimum layout for your new commercial kitchen or bar.

For more information, or to request a quote, send us a message from our online contact form – you can also upload any plans or images that you wish to accompany your message.

Alternatively, call Coles Air Conditioning, Refrigeration and Catering Equipment on (02) 4957 0221 and they can get you on the right track to installing, re-installing, upgrading or servicing your perfect commercial kitchen space. 

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