Commercial Kitchen Design: The 6 Design Principles You Should Know

December 7, 2021
Shipping container kitchen interior

Changes in food habits, styles, and technology have quickly evolved commercial kitchens around the world. Why? Because people’s preferences are changing, and so are restaurant menus

And as restaurants adjust their dishes to help customers navigate their allergies, food intolerances, and requirements when dining out, they’re also adapting their kitchen layouts to maximize efficiency. Commercial kitchens are now planned down to the last centimeter to optimize their workflow.  A lot goes into creating a restaurant’s kitchen layout, and it all begins with understanding the principles of commercial kitchen design. So let’s dive in.

Where to Start with Your Commercial Kitchen Layout

Before designing a commercial kitchen, you’re starting with a blank slate. You know how much space there is to work with, but what happens next? The first step is to define your eatery’s concept clearly. This includes the type of cuisine served, service style, location, and of course, target clientele. Part of developing your concept includes doing market research to determine what customers want and what type of kitchen layout works best for your menu, production volume, and team. But remember that different concepts will have unique requirements. 

Barbecue joints need grills, rotisseries, and even conveyor ovens to cook meat to perfection. In contrast, a bakery would have a different set of requirements. Their concept may call for installing high-volume vertical- or smaller batch spiral mixers and convection ovens into their kitchen’s design. Once you’ve determined your restaurant’s concept, think about how to adapt it to six commercial kitchen design principles. 

shipping container kitchen interior

Six Professional Kitchen Design Principles Explained 

The Certified Food Service Professionals (CFSP) program is considered the gold standard certification for foodservice professionals located in countries across the globe. Their guidelines help to raise standards and quality for the entire industry. As part of their program, they use a set of guidelines found in the CFSP handbook. This handbook lists six commercial kitchen design principles organized into these categories: 

Flexibility & Modularity

Busy kitchens have to pivot and adapt to everything from seasonal menu updates to the preferences of new chefs. And for these reasons, professional kitchens have to have the flexibility to move different stations around for easier prep work and cooking. Rolling grill carts, griddles, and other mobile shelving give professional kitchens the versatility to alter the layout to suit their needs.


As you plan your kitchen design, you’ll want to eliminate anything that could lead to inefficiencies for staff. For instance, storage is important, but unnecessary shelving inside a small space could lead to a cluttered, unorganized kitchen. This causes cooks to spend more time searching for what they need instead of doing what they do best. 

commercial kitchen interior

Flow of Materials and Personnel

When the lunch and dinner rush hits, the last thing teams need is to work in an environment that doesn’t match their workflow. Not optimizing commercial kitchen layouts to streamline service leads to confusion in the kitchen and injuries. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor, in 2019, there were 93,800 nonfatal injuries in full-service restaurants — most commonly cuts and burns. Preventing these injuries begins with creating a space designed for how kitchens function:  

Delivery to Storage:  There needs to be a convenient place to accept product deliveries close to where they’ll be stored. 

Prep to Production/Cooking: From there, staff will pull those products from cold or dry storage so they can start prepping. After preparing the ingredients, other workers will need to have easy access to cook them. 

Serving and Cleaning: Once meals are fully prepared, there needs to be a place to conduct a quality check before serving. After service is completed, commercial kitchens should have a designated area for cleaning and sanitizing dishes, cooking equipment, and utensils. 

For busy kitchens, this cycle is continuous, and it makes sense to design an environment that maximizes this hectic workflow. 

Ease of Sanitation

Since professional kitchens get daily cleanings, their designs have to include wash stations and waste disposal facilities to meet health and safety regulations. Mopping floors and wiping down walls are part of these requirements, along with periodic deeper cleanings. Because of this, your layout needs to allow for counters and other equipment to move around. This mobility makes it easier for staff to get to these areas.  

Ease of Supervision

Open commercial kitchen layouts remove barriers that make it difficult to get food out quickly and efficiently. Walls, shelving, and other obstacles can affect how well people interact and could slow down service. And in fast-paced kitchens, where teams have to be on the same page about timing, production, and quality control, communication is everything. When planning any commercial kitchen, the design needs to make it possible for everyone to see what others on the line are doing during service. 

Space Efficiency

Your commercial kitchen layout plan needs to be optimized for your team and maximize every square inch of space. This means bringing in only the essentials your team needs and will consistently use. It’s a smarter investment and prevents equipment from lying around, taking up room in the kitchen. 

When used together, these design principles create the ideal professional kitchen that works for any establishment, no matter its size or concept. These elements also provide the template for choosing the most important equipment kitchen staff need to work quickly and efficiently. 

commercial kitchen interior

Professional Kitchen Layouts Designed for Your Concept

ContekPro specializes in producing shipping container kitchens built for optimal performance and designed for your big culinary ideas. We work with you to learn everything about your food establishment: your staff’s workflow, the volume of service, menu, and more. You can choose from several pre-designed shipping container kitchen floor plans and models with our straightforward ordering process. Each unit is optimized for your staff’s comfort and how they operate before, during, and after service.   

Contact us today to talk to a member of our team about your shipping container kitchen design. We’re always here to help. 

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