Running a commercial kitchen can be difficult at the best of times, but when you hit those peak hours – you’re up to your eyes in it. Even a well-oiled machine can get chaotic when receipts start stacking up.

Optimise Your Kitchen Layout

But, organising a kitchen properly for busy periods can help your restaurant no end. The benefits are numerous:

  • Your customers will be thrilled
  • Your team will be happy and ready to work
  • You’ll get great reviews
  • You’ll get repeat business

But how can you better prepare for those rush hours, and what should you consider when organising your commercial kitchen? Let’s take a look.

Planning for the peaks

The first thing to do when organising your commercial kitchen is to work out your busy periods. This is especially important for your commercial kitchen in the hospitality sector. Check out your past bookings and schedules, and work out average peak periods during the day, the week, and the month.

For example, do you get more business at a lunchtime, between 1pm and 2pm? Are Saturdays your busiest days – and does business die down a little as new year rolls around?

Accounting for holiday traffic makes sense, too. Christmas and Bank Holidays are likely to see you pretty pushed.

In any case, grab this data and get it down on a page. With clear dates and zones when you’re likely to hit peak dining times, you can start to plan ahead.

You will need to ensure that you have enough staff scheduled to work, both in the kitchen and for serving. You will also need to ensure that you have enough supplies for your menu and anticipated people, enough tables ready, and so on.

That way, when an influx of people rushes in, you can rest assured that everything is ready for their arrival. At front of house, you’ll look capable, unflappable, and always happy to serve.

Tool Up

Naturally, the tools and machinery you use in your kitchen dictates the food you prepare, and vice versa. However, your arsenal also needs to match the size of your restaurant and the number of people you expect to serve at max capacity.

For example, plan for too much food storage, never too little. Audit your pantry, fridge, deep freeze, and where you prepare and cook meals. During special occasions, you’ll be more than grateful for the extra space.

Consider equipment material, too, for ease of maintenance and cleaning. For example, stainless steel is very easy to clean and is far more hygienic than most other unit material.

Therefore, during busy periods, you can rest assured that the cleaning process will be quick and easy to manage at the end of service (as well as midway through).

For cleaning tips, read our commercial kitchen daily maintenance checklist.

commercial kitchen sink

Layout matters

The layout of your kitchen is everything. Having an intuitive layout in your commercial kitchen will help to ensure that your kitchen staff can work at a regular rhythm that is conducive to speed, efficiency, and safety.

What you need to aim for ideally is the least amount of traffic possible. That means placing specific equipment in their suitable stations and in a way that – chronologically in line with service – makes practical sense.

For example, placing the serving line closer to your restaurant’s adjoining door ensures that the servers don’t have to go deep into the kitchen access dishes. Otherwise, you’re potentially blocking the chefs as they’re trying to move about swiftly while preparing the food. That’s going to cause headaches, arguments, and it’ll potentially irritate customers.

Think carefully about where is most practical and efficient to actually run your kitchen. You will need to consider your food’s preparation stations, cooking appliances, serving stations, and – of course – the sink.

This isn’t something you’ll likely perfect straight away. However, it’s important to work with a kitchen designer with years of peak service experience behind them.

Get your staff into a rhythm

Organising your commercial kitchen is just as much about engaging staff as it is carefully placing your units. You need to ensure that all of your staff is fully trained in using their equipment, that they know where their stations are, what exactly they are expected to do, and that they know how to navigate a professional kitchen.

Hopefully, your team’s full of great hires who are eager to learn, and who can work swiftly under pressure. Peak times are crunch times.

Careful training and setting expectations means you can always fluidly react to busy periods. You can better ensure that your team knows where they need to be at all times.

Stuck for ideas on how to motivate your team? It is worth taking the time to run through a few example sessions with them to ensure that everything runs smoothly at peak times. There are going to be some frantic service periods – and it’s healthy they understand this.

Find out more about our planned preventative maintenance plans.

Health and safety are king and queen

Always keep health and safety regulations in mind – they never take a back seat to customer satisfaction. As important as efficiency is, nothing is more important than the safety of your staff and customers.

That is why it is worth running through the organisation of your kitchen with a health inspector before committing to any one way. You also need to ensure that all your staff members know the health and safety codes as they work.

That means ensuring that everyone knows where the fire exits are, how to handle potential hazards, where to leave and not leave their equipment (such as knives, for example), and how to react in an emergency.

Keeping all of these codes in mind will ensure that even when the restaurant is full, and everyone is concentrating on work, your whole team remains safe and secure.

Let The Professionals Help

Managing peak service is a crucial skill for restaurant chefs. Not only is it vital for the safety and security of your staff and customers, but efficient management also keeps orders rolling thick and fast.

Take the time to consider when your peak times are, the equipment that you need, the perfect layout for your kitchen, how to train your staff appropriately, and health and safety regulations you need to adhere to. You’ll be cooking with more than gas in no time.

To find out more, view our Planned Preventative Maintenance Agreements or get in touch.