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Top Kitchen Design Mistakes
by Ezra Adler

KitchenWhen designing a kitchen, you must take more than what meets the eye into consideration. Common kitchen design blunders usually seem like they will work, but over time, end up costing you an obscene amount of money - and that cuts right into your profits. They could also mean the difference between a successful endeavor and a failure.

Cost, Construction Time and Building Codes

If you figure $150 per square foot to build a restaurant, add $25 to that figure. Building a restaurant or even rehabbing an existing restaurant is expensive, and you'll always come upon hidden costs. Some of those hidden costs may be in relation to building codes. Always ensure that you have the proper permits before you start - it's easier to get permission for something than it is to change it because it doesn't pass inspection or isn't allowed.

Furthermore, if the builder gives you an estimate on completion, add some time. The time will depend on the scope of the business. It's easier to make a grand opening date earlier - if it's later, you will definitely discourage a lot of people. Loans often depend on an opening date. If you have a construction loan, you don't want it to come due prior to completion, especially if you can't pay your conventional loan payment without some income from the venture.

Space and Size

The bigger the restaurant, the more expensive it will be, and not only during construction. Say you've considered the cost of building a 6,000-square-foot space: don't forget to count on the cost of running that big building. Utilities, employees, management - those budgets and more expand with the size of a restaurant.

Once you've decided on the size, ensure you have the proper setup. For example, if you are not a sports bar, you might consider having a smaller bar and not as many televisions throughout the restaurant. If you have a long bar and it's never filled, your restaurant is going to look "empty," and that could be a huge turn-off to potential customers.

Make sure you have enough space between the tables for people to maneuver without smacking the chair behind them. Countless restaurants either don't think of this issue or place tables close together so they can seat more people. You want your restaurant to be comfortable, even for larger people. And, this gives the wait staff more room to properly serve customers.

Space and size are also important in the kitchen area. The kitchen staff must have enough room to move about so that they may do their jobs properly, and you must have enough space for the equipment. Furthermore, equipment layout must not only be convenient to the kitchen staff, but it must be convenient to the equipment itself. You are going to run into problems if you put an ice machine in an area that is not efficiently cooled or that has an exhaust fan from another appliance blowing onto it.

Storage

When planning your kitchen, never underestimate the need for storage. Even if you don't think you'll need extra storage space, add it in where there's room. You won't regret it in the future. Also, go "up" with storage when possible. You can keep the footprint of the kitchen (thus the building and operating costs) lower as long as you don't compromise accessibility and space requirements for staff.

Take It for a Test Drive

Before you even hire contractors to start building or remodeling, make a test kitchen. The easiest and most inexpensive way is to map out the restaurant on the floor of a warehouse or large parking lot with tape. Have people act as employees and customers, then run a full dinner service.

Make sure that if you have two stations right next to each other in which two people can work comfortably. The wait staff should be able to see the line chefs. The host/hostess should be able to keep an eye on wait staff. The kitchen staff should be able to have eye contact with all of those working on different lines - the meat line, appetizers, fish, salad line, hot line, cold line - however you lay out your prep lines and prep areas.

Once you take a test drive, you can see if the kitchen and restaurant setup will work and if it will be efficient. If people and equipment in the kitchen and in the front of the house can work smoothly, your business model is efficient and you will have a much better chance of success.



Ezra Adler is the Ecommerce Marketing Director for Culinary Depot Inc. in Monsey, NY. A kitchen supplies and equipment retail store, the company has a large online selection of restaurant equipment.



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