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Restaurant Solutions: Kitchen Design Considerations for Restaurants

REALIZE the Possibilities. DESIGN Your Reality. INFLUENCE Your Life & Community


Whether your restaurant is a national brand roll-out or a new construction or renovation, the kitchen is the most important aspect of design. The obvious reason is because that's where your product comes from...it's the heart of house. But when you take a deeper dive into the kitchen planning that occurs during design, you discover there's great detail that goes into kitchen layout, finish and equipment selection and local building and health requirements. This 'Restaurant Solutions' entry will highlight those topics and more. So let's jump right in.



Start with the Back of House

Why? You need to determine what changes need to be made if there is an existing kitchen located within the space or where the kitchen will be located within the renovation or new construction. This will help you understand the space required to have a functional kitchen and allow for maximizing space within the dining area / front of house. This method also allows you to consider and emphasize the areas that depend on the use of entryways and exits; including greeting areas, server and customer circulation.









The Kitchen Layout

Is it functional? Do your prep stations flow? Do you have a take-out / delivery prep area? Where are your sinks located? Grill? Storage? Coolers? Is there a delivery area to accept new product? Is your food prep to cooking to service locations organized the best way possible to avoid issues and accidents?

To break this down into even simpler terms, most restaurant kitchens have a flow that includes the following steps:



Delivery > Storage > Food Prep > Cooking > Service > Cleaning


Establishing these points is essential to a cohesive and complimentary flow within the kitchen area.

Design Tip: Determine where food and staff will be entering and exiting the kitchen. This will help you decide where the above activities will take place - creating the most functional space possible.


Think about it...If there isn't a specific entrance and exit to the kitchen, accidents and confusion are more likely, which in the long run will cost money.






Equipment and Finish Selection

Equipment selection is an important aspect of designing a functional kitchen space. At JP Architects, Ltd. we inform our clients about the many options available to them; however, our focus is often on establishing a nonporous environment (more resistant to bacteria) by selecting stainless steel equipment and counters. We also try to guide our clients in the direction of shelving units, racks, prep tables and other equipment with wheels because those are easier to move and clean, collect less dust and grime and give our clients flexibility in their location within the kitchen space. Furthermore, it's also important to consider the quality of equipment you like. Also with the restaurant environment, health departments usually require a certain type of flooring to be used within the kitchen space. At JP Architects Ltd., we work with specific kitchen vendors that provide our clients with multiple options to fit their budget and design.









Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection Systems / Local Building & Health Requirements

Does your building have existing mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems? Do we need to change the location of these systems or design to accommodate new systems? Does the current location of these systems affect the layout / space planning for the kitchen? Are the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems industry standard? Does your kitchen have the proper ventilation & exhaust? Furthermore, are there any major building code or health violations that must be addressed in order to create a functional kitchen?


Your architectural partner can answer all these questions during an initial walk-through and provide an in-depth assessment through a building condition analysis. Finding out the answers to these questions will give you an understanding into the systems within your space and provide a solid 'foundation' for the design of a functional kitchen.




Health Department

When opening a restaurant, the health department for the county in which you're opening is involved. There is a variety of information and design details that require review from the health department in order to gain approval to begin construction and move towards opening.


A plan that generally details the following and some other non-design related items must be submitted to the health department prior to construction:



  • Food service equipment layout, including floor plan with elevations.

  • Food service equipment list with manufactures' names, model numbers, and equipment specification sheets.

  • Plumbing plans including food service equipment layout with waste diagram and specifications.

  • Room and area finish schedule for floors, walls, and ceilings.

  • Kitchen ventilation plans (if applicable).

  • Restaurant menu

  • Please be aware that most municipalities require architectural/professional quality food service plans to be submitted for subsequent review and approval for any sized project. The same plan information that is submitted to the health department is also to be submitted to the local municipality for review and approval.



Then you can expect further inspections during construction. Some common ones are plumbing location inspection to verify underground plumbing is provided for food service equipment to be installed, pre-file / stocking inspection occurs prior to receiving or stocking food and beverage products and final / opening inspection happens when previous inspections have been completed and passed and the facility is cleaned and ready for operation.


Some general details the health department will be checking within the kitchen design are the equipment installation and location, the required floor and hand sinks, proper refrigeration, storage locations / quantities and flooring. Smooth and cleanable surfaces are required on countertops, walls and ceilings in prep area. There are industry specific items under review depending on the type of restaurant / food service business you're opening.


The bottom line here is an architectural partner is an imperative aspect of the team because they will review the requirements, ensure designs adhere to the strict regulations, help you pass inspection and create a functional kitchen.




Coordination with Operations Team

No one knows the challenges that occur within a commercial / food service kitchen better than the everyday users. By talking with your operations team we can gain a better understanding into how the kitchen operates and design a solution that best fits the needs of the user. After all, we are designing this space for you and your business, not ourselves. Let's take this extra step to make sure we gain the necessary insight to create the most functional, efficient space possible.




The Final Word

There are many considerations as it relates to kitchen design and space planning. Having an architectural partner that can guide you through the process of understanding the variety of moving parts will ease confusion and lay the foundation for a functional kitchen and maximized space.


Don't go at it alone. JP Architects, Ltd. can help you navigate the intricacies of kitchen design and space planning. Let's talk Restaurant Solutions - 708.907.3651.



Until Next Time,


Ariel Delao | Vice-President

JP Architects, Ltd.



JP Architects, Ltd. was founded in 2015 by Jose R. Pareja, AIA. We specialize in and are passionate about residential design, commercial architecture, restaurant design and public sector planning / capital improvement projects. Located at 7250 College Dr., Palos Heights, IL 60463, we serve Chicagoland, North & Central Illinois and multiple states. We complete hundreds of projects per year and bring sound principles of design, resourcefulness, reliability, unmatched quality, enthusiasm, creativity and functional design to each project. JP Architects, Ltd. realizes the possibilities, designs your reality and influences your life and community.