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When you’re working within the parameters of a pre-determined space and trying to take into account a multitude of rules and regulations, it can be easy to overlook small matters that might make your kitchen run that little bit better, and help staff to feel a mite more comfortable too.

When your restaurant or café is packed out evening after evening it’s tricky to implement any changes, large or small. With this in mind, the traditional January lull is a great time to take stock and examine whether simple changes could make a positive difference for the year ahead.

So, we’ve put together a few hints and tips for conducting an audit of your kitchen to ensure it’s working as hard as possible to help your business be a success!

Staff and service in motion

Designing a kitchen without seeing it in use is a tricky task. To gain the best insight into where improvements could be made and how your kitchen currently flows, you’ll need to watch a service and see your staff in motion.

Look out for sticking points such as people crossing between stations in the kitchen and problems with equipment. Speak to your staff to see how they like to layout their workstations - would they benefit from extra storage such as hooks for pans and tea towels above their heads? Ask them directly if they think there’s anything that would make their job easier.

Health and safety considerations

At the centre of kitchen efficiency are the many health and hygiene regulations you need to meet each and every day. You might want to check out our fridge buyer's guide to remind yourself of some of the basics around cold food storage and reassess whether you’re still meeting all of your needs.

For instance, if you find that you’re cooking and freezing more food for later use, you may want to consider investing in a chiller room. If you’ve significantly changed your menu since first opening, your workstations might need updating to reflect this and there may be updates needed to make it easier for your staff to follow regulations while they work. This might mean introducing a new salad top counter or moving the hand washing sink so that it’s easier for everyone to use.

Equipment updates

Assessing your equipment isn’t just about finding out whether everything works properly or your staff would like some shiny new stuff, it’s about making sure every bit of kit is justifying the space is occupies.

In a busy kitchen, every piece of equipment, gadgets included, should have a purpose and be fit for that purpose.  Check that everything is still in use and organise a maintenance schedule or replace equipment if necessary. If you’re updating equipment, be mindful that there may now be a model that’s even more suited for the role, so don’t automatically seek a straight replacement. Energy efficiency is one area that can often be improved with new equipment purchase and with energy bills accounting for a significant percentage of a business’ outgoings; the impact of more efficient equipment shouldn’t be underestimated.

Don’t forget to factor in the placement of the equipment to make sure it’s running at its best. If you have two electrical items next to each other you may find that the air they’re expelling has a negative impact on efficiency.

Bonus extras

Even if things are moving relatively smoothly in your kitchen and you can’t identify visible issues, there may still be improvements to be made. Think about how items are stored and whether they are visible and easy to access, and consider whether you can double up the use of some gadgets and equipment, so that things aren’t quite as tightly packed in.

Communication is fundamental for a kitchen to run smoothly, so after checking if all staff who need to work together are able to do so easily, consider whether your ticketing or order system is still best suited to how your kitchen operates. Many kitchens stick with a system because they’ve been using it for years without thought as to whether it works well alongside a new menu, new staff or a different kitchen layout. Is now the time to update yours?

What’s the starting point for your kitchen design?

A great kitchen design should help your kitchen run like a well-oiled machine, with minimal waste of time and produce alongside maximum comfort and convenience. It should embed the health and safety rules and regulations we all need to follow and above all, it should consider how food moves through your kitchen, so that plates arrive on the tables of your customers in time to meet and exceed their expectations.

What’s your top kitchen design tip? Where do you start when you are planning a new kitchen? Do you start with a floor map or by talking to your staff? We’d love to hear your thoughts.


Lockhart Catering on 30 December 2014 10:30 AM

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