How to Set Up a Small Commercial Kitchen in Three Easy Steps

Freezers, fryers, and things to put out fires, oh my!

When you start a food service business, there are a lot of things to think about. And making sure your kitchen is set up right is very important if you want to do well. Setting up a business kitchen doesn't have to be hard. It's really as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Here's a guide with 3 easy steps on how to set up a small commercial kitchen.

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Step 1: Come up with a menu you love.

Everything in your restaurant is based on the menu. Make a menu with food you like. When making a menu, you should also think about how your commercial kitchen is set up.

By design, very small restaurant kitchens can't handle bigger menus like bigger commercial kitchens can. So, if your kitchen is small, you might want to make a menu with less food.

With this in mind, it's time to start making plans for what to eat. Start by making a theme for your menu. You want your food to make you stand out from other restaurants in the area. Write a few words about what you want to accomplish with this menu.

Bring in your head chef to help you with this. 

They'll have ideas for how to set up the kitchen based on what they've done before.

Another reason to keep your menu as short as possible is that having too many options can be confusing for customers. People like it when they can choose their meal in less than two minutes.

When you make your menu, you should also think about the prices. Prices determine what kinds of ingredients you use and how you set up the kitchen to cook them.

How to Build a Commercial Kitchen, Step 2

Yes, it would be nice if your kitchen were big, bright, and had a lot of space that you could use. But it is possible to set up a full-service commercial kitchen in a small space. 

When it comes to designing a small restaurant kitchen, you just have to make good use of the space you have. Restaurant kitchens that are small should have simple layouts.

There are three common ways that commercial kitchens are put together. 

The design you choose will depend on your tastes, the cook's tastes, and what you plan to cook. Let's take a closer look at each of these common examples of how to lay out a small commercial kitchen:


A zone kitchen is a smart way to set up a small commercial kitchen because it splits up the work between different areas. Each zone does something different. And the people who work in each zone are experts in that area.

Most zone kitchens have a place with a lot of counter space for preparing food. 

This is where you'll measure ingredients, slice meat, cut up vegetables, marinate, etc.

The cooking area might just have a grill and a deep fryer. Or it could be more complicated, with several ovens, cooktops, and warming pans. It's all dependent on your menu.

Zone kitchens have places for keeping things cold, keeping things dry, and cleaning. 

You could also choose a separate area for plating the food once it's done.

Line of assembly

Assembly lines work well in kitchens where a lot of the same kinds of food are being made. For example, sandwich shops, pizza places, and burger joints.

It's also a great choice if you want to serve people quickly. Because there is less time between each step, the food is ready faster.

Your assembly line doesn't have to be in a line, so don't worry. A lot of kitchens aren't big enough to fit everything in one straight line. When you don't have enough room, you can have your group run in a circle.


The island kitchen is a mix of the assembly kitchen and the zone kitchen. It is built around a central island. But also uses the outside as part of the space to work.

Set up your island as the main area for preparing food and cooking. 

You should put most of your cooking tools in this area. Use the perimeter for less important areas like storage and bathrooms.

The island design can also be used in a line of people making things. 

Set up your kitchen so that prep and cooking start on the island. 

Then moves to the outside of the dish to finish it.

Step 3: The most important tools

Now that you have a menu and a plan for how to set up the kitchen, it's time to look at the most important restaurant equipment and why having the right tools is so important to the success of your business. Every kitchen needs a few main types of things.


You'll need storage that is both dry and cool. There are walk-in, reach-in, and under-the-counter commercial fridges and freezers. 

There are usually more than one kind of refrigerator in a kitchen.

A large, walk-in refrigerator works for bulk storage. 

Then you'll need a smaller, easier-to-reach fridge in your kitchen. If you don't have a lot of room, a refrigerator that fits on top of a work surface is a good choice.

Cabinets and shelves make up dry storage equipment. Again, when setting up a small space, choose to store things on the worktop.


Everyone in the kitchen should be able to easily get to the cooking tools.

You can save space by buying a commercial oven with cooktops built into the top, like a gas range with built-in ovens below. 

A lot of these machines have extra shelves for storage above the stovetop.

Put the frying area close to the stove or grill. If you don't plan to fry very often, you might be better off with a small fryer that sits on your counter. 

And floor fryers are great if you don't have a lot of space on your counters.

Depending on what you plan to cook, your kitchen may need some special tools. 

This includes toasters, sandwich grills, pizza deck ovens, bread ovens, etc.

Also, buy good equipment to keep the food warm before sending it to the customer.


Choose a commercial dishwasher that can handle the amount of dishes you plan to put in it. 

If you want to use disposable containers to serve food, you might not need a very big one. They can be on shelves, on a conveyor belt, or under the counter.

Also, you'll need a sink. Most laws say that restaurants have to have at least a three-compartment sink. Choose one with shelves on both ends so that clothes can dry.


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