Rule of thumb for sizing commercial kitchen

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by architect, Aug 19, 2013.

  1. architect


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    Can't boil water
    We are architects and are starting preliminary site design on a new restaurant. The chef / owner doesn't have a good sense of how large his kitchen needs to be. He said 80SF for a restaurant and bar that seats 350 total (50 at the bar, 150 in the restaurant, and 150 in an event space room). My gut says his number is way off, but I haven't been able to find any resource to tell me how large the kitchen needs to be other than one reference that said 5sf per patron seat.

    We don't try to design commercial kitchens, but at this point it is premature to hire a kitchen designer, so I am asking for guidance here. 

    Any help would be appreciated.

    We are also using .5sf / seat for waste area, 2.5sf / seat for cold storage, and 2.5sf / seat for dry storage, so any input on these would also be appreciated.

    Thank you.

    Christian Rogers, AIA

    Birmingham, Alabama
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 19, 2013
  2. soesje


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    Professional Chef
    why don't you visit a few restaurants near you and ask to have a look at the kitchen area to get a more realistic idea?

    I myself don't think there is a "set size" for a restaurant kitchen as in my country I have seen very small (24 sq metres) serving 50 but also 100. 

    a well set up kitchen is more important, with a good storage area aka enough dry storage, plus freezer and fridge, for the amount of people you want to serve.

    am sure more experienced people on here will be able to give you a better idea.
  3. chefwriter


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    Professional Cook
    I would think the local authorities (city hall, health department, etc) could point you in the right direction. With ADA and other concerns, much of it should be found in local building codes and other requirements.

    Personally I would want as much room as possible. One system I have heard of is to make mock-ups of the equipment out of cardboard and set them outside, arranged as you want. This gives everyone an idea of actual sizes and helps the chef visualize what it will actually look like and be like to work in.  
  4. petemccracken


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    Professional Chef
    The menu dictates the kitchen equipment and the kitchen equipment dictates the size of the line(s) and the seating capacity dictates the size of the dish pit and other support areas.

    If the Chef doesn't have a clue as to what size the kitchen should be, you have a high hurdle to get over!

    Guessing, and I really mean guessing, minimums would be:
    • Dish pit and dish storage 120SF
    • Dry Storage = 60SF
    • Walk-in refrigerator = 80SF, add 32SF for freezer
    • Cold line(s) (Garde Manger) = 120SF/cook (includes reach-in refers)
    • Hot line(s) =80SF/cook (sauté, Broiler, Deep fry, etc. (includes cooking equipment and plating area)
    • Pass 60SF (6'x10')
    That adds up to around 600SF (20'x30') at a minimum
  5. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Retired Chef
    You can't even fit your equipment in 80sqft., let alone space for people.  I would say for a place that large you will need at least seven people on the line and two dish machine operators.  Broiler, cold side, hot apps, saute, fry, expediter, and chef.  I would say at least twenty linear feet on the line.
  6. jake t buds

    jake t buds

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    12 SF per person according to code for table seating in NYC, and it's around 9 for the bar, IIRC. Every city is different. You'll have to consult with a code expert in your state. Secondly, your chef needs to know what he/she needs to accommodate the menu, as chef Pete says. You also need to take into consideration what SF is available on site. Start with building code and space planning (host, service stations, table configurations, circulation, fire exits, etc) for front of house and then see what is left for the kitchen to accommodate the concept/ business plan. If it's not enough SF then you need to look for another location. A feasibility study is recommended. Depending on the menu and type of restaurant, a rule of thumb is around 40% for kitchen/ BOH for fine dining. Every situation is different, though. 
  7. foodpump


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    Professional Pastry Chef
    Oh dear.....

    If the chef/owner figures on a 80 sqft kitchen space to serve 300 patrons, then he hasn't done any real cost calculations.

    You've had some very good advice from Pete and others, and your local municipality should give you some idea on what's expected for an establishment this size.

    The "heart", so to speak, of the kitchen isn't really the stove, but rather the ventilation system, a.k.a.  a "hood".  The size of this is dependent on the equipment (as Pete says, the menu dictates the equipment).  hood requires a shaft, as well as make-up air. Most municipalities demand that the calculations for the hood, shaft, and make up air be done by a Mech. eng.  For obvious reasons, the hood should be located as close as possible to the exit of the shaft, thus the hood dictates the location of the hot kitchen.   The dish-pit, cold kitchen, store rooms, and walk-in fridges&freezers can be located away from the hot kitchen--and many kitchens do this. 

    I hope this helps....