Finding Ways to Maximize Space, Even in a Compact Commercial Kitchen

Making the most of the space in your food service operation can be a real challenge, especially if you have a small kitchen. Creating a layout that makes sense and flows in the room available improves efficiency, which means money in your pocket, while bad design can cost you. So, how do you get big-kitchen performance out of your space?

Since most restaurant equipment is sized for large operations, it can be tricky to get it into a little kitchen. Fortunately, there are some smaller models that provide great performance, yet require less space. There are also pieces that allow you to use every square inch available, meaning you get the abilities of a big facility in your limited space.

Small Kitchen Tip No. 1: Employ an Under Counter Ice Maker

In many cases, an under counter ice maker can provide the same level of daily production as larger head and bin combination units. They’re also available in models that are perfect for low-volume places, providing from a couple dozen pounds of ice per day to nearly 100. They do all that in footprints that take just a few square feet of what might otherwise be unused space.

Small Kitchen Tip No. 2: Get a Commercial Sliding Door Refrigerator

In a little kitchen where space is at a premium, leaving enough of an aisle to allow for the wide swing of the doors on a typical reach-in refrigerator can be a challenge. Additionally, opening the doors in such tight quarters makes it impossible for anyone to move through that area, which can seriously impact the flow of your kitchen.

Rather than compromise all that room, maximize space with a sliding door refrigerator. With the opening of the doors contained within the footprint, your aisle space needs won’t be impacted by your refrigeration. That makes a commercial sliding door refrigerator one of the best ways to maximize space in a compact commercial kitchen.

Small Kitchen Tip No. 3: A Commercial Refrigerator Freezer Combination Does the Work of Two

A commercial refrigerator freezer combination unit, also called a dual-temperature refrigerator in the restaurant equipment industry, isn’t for every food service operation, even if it has a little kitchen. But they can be great particularly for low-volume operations or those that need two types of cold storage in a small footprint.

As the name suggests, these combine the abilities of both a commercial refrigerator and a commercial freezer in a single unit. They come in models with a single section, with the two operations stacked on each other, as well as two- and three-section models, with the refrigerator and freezer side-by-side. A double-section dual-temperature refrigerator takes up less room than a single-section commercial refrigerator and a single-section commercial freezer, making it great for most any compact commercial kitchen.

Small Kitchen Tip No. 4: The Combi Oven, Another Two-in-One Space Saver

The combi oven may be one of the greatest and most under-appreciated additions to the ranks of restaurant equipment in recent history. These units offer the even heating of a convection oven with the incredible cooking power of a steamer in a single box. They’re available in single-deck and double-deck models that pair two in a stack. You can also purchase a combi oven in a countertop model that provides all that cooking power without taking up precious floor space in your little kitchen.

Small Kitchen Tip No. 5: Get Your Restaurant Equipment off the Floor

Speaking of countertop equipment, it can be one of the easiest ways to maximize space in a compact commercial kitchen. From combi ovens to fryers to hot plates, units that can fit on your countertop move crucial pieces off the floor, freeing space for pieces like a dual-temperature refrigerator that can’t be so compact.

Small Kitchen Tip No. 6: Get Ingredients out of the way With Ingredient Bins

Drawing on experience in a residential kitchen, many people new to food service opt for a lot of storage space to stash their ingredients in. In reality, those items will likely spend little time in those cupboards, instead populating the counter top, taking up workspace and frustrating cooks. Meanwhile, all that storage space is doing nothing more than taking up space.

To avoid that situation, turn to ingredient bins. They’re great for dry ingredients like flour that your kitchen uses in bulk. They can be stored under your counter and offer easy access to those items you use the most, making them both one of the best ways to maximize space in a compact commercial kitchen and a terrific way to improve efficiency.

Derek Hodges
Derek Hodges

Derek Hodges is a proud North Carolinian who moved to Tennessee in 2006 to preach the gospel of Cheerwine and mix some Tar Heel blue in with all the orange. He has made wonderful friends who tolerate occasional remarks like those above. He and his wife Amanda enjoy spending weekends at Dollywood and trying to convince their dog Shiloh to get over his fear of swimming.

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