Commercial kitchens require a great deal of industrial strength equipment, including hoods and ventilation systems, commercial stoves, walk-in coolers and freezers, and safety equipment. It can be a little overwhelming at first as you embark on opening your first establishment and the list seems to keep getting longer and longer. Some guidelines might help you narrow down your needs.
You might want to stay away from electric models because they're more prone to break—not to mention that they can raise your utility bill sky high. A large, six-burner gas range is ideal for a commercial restaurant kitchen.
Vulcan ranges are some of the most durable so they're ideal for busy restaurant kitchens. Viking is another commercial brand that has a lot of fans but a lot of their models are better suited to home kitchens whose owners want that industrial chic look.
A flat top grill is ideal for cooking burgers and breakfast items, whereas a charcoal grill is better suited for steaks and barbecue items. Your choice will come down to the type of cuisine you're planning to offer, and you might need both.
A commercial hood is necessary for proper ventilation and to preserve air quality. Hoods are required by law in restaurants in some states.
Hire a professional to install your commercial kitchen hood if you don't have experience with ventilation systems because they can be tricky to install properly. For safety reasons, you'll really want to get this right.
A Stove-Warming Shelf
This space-saving shelf will help busy cooks stay organized during the dinner rush. It's a must-have in any fast-paced, well-organized commercial kitchen.
Keep cold items handy with a commercial refrigerator. Models include the upright version pictured here, or you can purchase a reach-in cooler. These coolers can also serve as prep stations in a pinch, although you'll want to keep the items inside easily accessible for utmost kitchen efficiency.
A Walk-In Cooler
A walk-in cooler is essential for any restaurant. It's the only way you'll be able to store large amounts of food safely. Your walk-in cooler should be adjacent to your restaurant kitchen.
Prep tables should be stainless steel for both durability and food safety reasons. Look for tables with built-in shelves to provide extra storage in your restaurant kitchen.
Rubber floor mats are must-haves for any well-appointed, safe, and serviceable commercial kitchen. They not only make the kitchen safer for your staff by helping prevent slips and falls on wet surfaces, but they're more comfortable to stand on as well. Don't make your employees stand on a hard linoleum or tile surface if they don't have to.
A Knife Magnet
Good quality kitchen knives are essential to any cook, and lost or damaged knives are expensive to replace. Use a knife magnet to keep your knives properly stored and organized.
No commercial kitchen is safe without a fire extinguisher. Be sure to choose a heavy duty extinguisher over a residential model.
Your Choices Could Make or Break You
You might be tempted to skip over some of these items that don't seem very important or to select cheaper models, particularly when you're starting out and money is a little tight. Resist the temptation. The more smoothly and efficiently your kitchen operates, the sooner you'll turn a profit.