The Essentials to Consider When Designing and Equipping Your Restaurant

Source: The Essentials to Consider When Designing and Equipping Your Restaurant

OCTOBER 12, 2016

The following excerpt is from The Staff of Entrepreneur Media’s book Start Your Own Restaurant and More. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes

The two key parts of your restaurant are the produc­tion area, where the food is prepared, and the public area, where your customers either dine or make their carryout purchases. The major factors to think about in terms of a restaurant’s design are the size and layout of the dining room, kitchen space, storage areas and office. Dining space will occupy most of your facility, followed by the kitchen and preparation area and then by storage. If you have an office on the premises — and you should — that will most likely take up the smallest percentage of your space.

The customer service area is important because it determines the first impression your restaurant will make on your guests. It must accurately convey the atmosphere of the restaurant in a way that takes advantage of the space available. Your customer service area should include a waiting area for customers, a cashier’s station, public restrooms and a bar, if you choose to have one. Other than fast-food or quick-serve establishments, most restaurants have bars or at least serve beer or wine.

Most upscale restaurants don’t have a cashier area where patrons walk up and pay. Instead, the waitstaff typically collects the payment at the table and takes it to the bar cash register. They then bring the change back to the table or return with the credit card slip to be signed.

You can use your cashier’s station as the host or hostess station, or you can set up a separate station at the threshold between the customer service and dining areas. A host or hostess stand usually consists of a small wooden podium with a ledger or computer keyboard and monitor for recording the names of waiting guests.

Related: What You Need to Know Before Starting a Food Service Business

The waiting area itself should have a few benches lining its walls. Don’t skimp on these seats. They should be cushioned, unless your theme dictates otherwise, so your customers are comfortable during their wait. If the wait turns out to be long, and if your seats are hard and uncomfortable, chances are you’ll lose customers and generate some bad word-of-mouth.

In many restaurants, a bar will generate a good portion of the operation’s revenue. Generally speaking, you should have one bar seat for every three dining seats. For example, if you have 150 dining seats, your bar should have about 50 seats, including bar stools and seats at tables. Allow about 2 square feet of floor space per stool. Your tables should have about 10 to 12 square feet per customer.

A bar also provides an additional waiting area for your restaurant. It’s a good place for your customers to relax and enjoy themselves while their table is being prepared. You can also serve food at the bar, which is especially beneficial when you have a long waiting list. Also keep in mind that many restaurants either take a guest’s cell phone number or provide an electric electronic pager to contact their waiting guests.

Dining area

This is where you’ll be making the bulk of your money, so don’t cut corners when designing and decorating your dining room. Much of your dining room design will depend on your concept. It might help to know that studies indicate that 40 to 50 percent of all sit-down customers arrive in pairs, 30 percent come alone or in parties of three and 20 percent come in groups of four or more.

To accommodate various party sizes, use tables for two that can be pushed together in areas where there’s ample floor space. This gives you flexibility in accommodating both small and large parties. Place booths for four to six people along the walls.

The space required per seat varies according to the type of restaurant and size of the establishment. For a small casual-dining restaurant, you’ll need to provide about 15 to 18 square feet per seat to assure comfortable seating and enough aisle space so servers have room to move between the tables. People don’t like being crowded together with other diners. Keep in mind that while you want to get in as many people as possible, you also want return customers. It is often said that 80 percent of business comes from return customers. If people are crammed in and don’t enjoy their dining experience, they won’t be likely to return.

Related: How to Start a Restaurant

The furniture and fixtures in your dining area should match your concept and be appropriate to the market you’re trying to attract. For example, a family-style restaurant needs to have comfortable tables and booths that can accommodate children’s booster seats and highchairs. A fine-dining establishment should be more elegant, with tables situated to provide your patrons with privacy.

Regardless of the type of operation you choose, the quality of your chairs is critical. Chairs are expensive, and how comfortable they are — or aren’t — is the second most common source of environmental complaints in restaurants (the first is noise). But while your seats should be comfortable, they shouldn’t be too soft, either — you don’t want customers falling asleep. They should also allow for ease of movement. Diners should be able to get up and down easily and slide across seating surfaces without tearing clothing or hosiery. And they need to be sturdy. When an overweight customer sits down or even tips a chair back on one or two legs, the chair shouldn’t break. Also, choose materials that can tolerate abrasive cleaning products as well as the abuse of being stacked and unstacked.

Develop a uniform atmosphere all through the public areas of your restaurant. That means the décor of your waiting area, dining room, bar and even restrooms should match. Also, be sure your waiting area is welcoming and comfortable. Whether your customers are seated immediately or have to wait awhile for their tables, they’ll gain their first impression of your operation from the waiting area, and you want that impression to be positive.

Production area

Too often, the production area in a restaurant is inefficiently designed, and the result is a poorly organized kitchen and less-than-top-notch service. Your floor plan should be streamlined to provide the most efficient delivery of food to the dining area.

Generally, you’ll need to allow approximately 35 percent of your total space for your production area. Include space for food preparation, cooking, dishwashing, trash disposal, receiving, inventory storage, employee facilities and an area for a small office where daily management duties can be performed. Allow about 12 percent of your total space for food preparation and cooking areas.

Keep your menu in mind as you determine each element in the production area. You’ll need to include space for food preparation, cooking, dishwashing, trash disposal, receiving, inventory storage and employee facilities, plus your office area.

The food preparation, cooking and baking areas are where the actual production of food will take place. You’ll need room for prep and steam tables, fryers, a cooking range with griddle top, small refrigerators that you’ll place under the prep and steam tables, a freezer for storing perishable goods, soft drink and milk dispensers, an ice bin, a broiler, exhaust fans for the ventilation system and other items, depending on your particular operation.

Arrange this area so everything is only a couple of steps away from the cook. You should also design it in such a way that two or more cooks can work side by side during your busiest hours.

You’ll want to devote about 4 percent of your total space to the dishwashing and trash areas. Place your dishwashing area toward the rear of the kitchen. You can usually set this up in a corner so it doesn’t get in the way of the cooks and servers. Set up the dishwashing area so the washer can develop a production line.

To make your production area as efficient as possible, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Plan the shortest route from entrance to exit for ingredients and baked goods.
  • Minimize handling by having as many duties as possible performed at each stop — that is, at each point the item or dish stops in the production process.
  • Eliminate bottlenecks in the production process caused by delays at strategic loca­tions. When things aren’t flowing smoothly, figure out why. Be sure your equipment is adequate, well-maintained and located in the proper place for the task.
  • Recognize that the misuse of space is as damaging to your operation as the misuse of machinery and labor.
  • Eliminate backtracking, the overlapping of work and unnecessary inspection by constantly considering possibilities for new sequences and combinations of steps in food preparation.
  • Set up the dishwashing area so the washer can develop a production line. The per­son responsible for washing dishes should rinse them in a double sink, then place them into racks on a small landing area next to the sink. From the landing area, the racks full of dishes are put through the commercial dishwasher, then placed on a table for drying. The size and capacity of your dishwasher will depend on the needs of your operation.

Receiving and inventory storage spaces will take up to about 8 percent of your total space. These areas should be located so they’re accessible to delivery vehicles. Use double doors at your receiving port, and always keep a dolly or hand truck available. Locate your dry-storage area and walk-in refrigerator and freezer adjacent to the receiving area.

Related: The Ingredients of Restaurant Success

Because most food-service businesses require employees, you should also have a private room for them that includes a table, a few chairs, a closet or garment rack (to hang coats and street clothes after staffers have changed into their work clothes), lockers for safe storage of personal belongings and valuables and a restroom. The staff facility should not take up more than 5 percent of your total space.

You’ll also need a small area where you or your manager can perform administrative tasks, such as general paperwork, bank deposits and counting out cash drawers. This space is essential even if you have another office at home where you do the majority of your administrative work.

Foodservice Equipment – How to select the right caster for you


Casters are special housings that include wheels and they facilitate those wheels being attached to equipment.  Many people interchange the terminology of wheels and casters as meaning the same thing and for the most part that works out to be accepted.  However, when we want to really analyze the subject of casters, it is important to break them down into all of the important components.  Components such as the wheel, the tread of the wheel, the barring that make the wheel spin, the mounting plate, and even how the wheel locks and swivels are important to know and understand.

A caster is simply designed for mobility of equipment.  The equipment needs to be mobile, caster-patriot-plus-hdwhether it sits in a corner of a commercial kitchen and only needs to be moved for easy access for cleaning, or if it’s a large banquet cabinet that needs to be loaded onto trucks and moved to off-site locations.  These two applications require different consideration when it comes to wheel tread, hubs, and bearings.  A caster that supports equipment without being moved very often can tend to get flat spots from sitting still, so a wide dense tread with bearings that require little to no maintenance is best.  Adversely, equipment that will be pushed over thresholds, bumps and gravel, roll well with a soft tube-less semi-pneumatic tread, with Zerk grease lubricated raceways and bearings.

The environment the equipment is in can play a large part in your purchasing decision as well.  The bulk food warming cabinet that hangs out in the corner of a commercial kitchen needs a caster that can roll on the smooth surfaces of the kitchen floor while being resistant to the cleaning agents that are used when cleaning those floors.  Some applications, such as in healthcare patient meal delivery, need casters that can roll around hushed environments on equipment that must be as quiet and tranquil as possible.  These delivery cabinets, in the highly sanitized healthcare facilities, are commonly spray washed inside and out.  Without the properly sealed bearings, the casters will become corroded from the cleaning.

caster-dimentionsSize matters but bigger are not always better.  If the cabinet is one that will be sliding in and out from under a counter, being sure to pick the correct size caster will be paramount in your decision.  It should also be known that typically the larger the wheel diameter is the easier it will roll.  Remember this terminology for the size of your caster; Wheel Diameter – This is the distance measured vertically from one side of the tread to the other, Tread Width – The distance measured laterally across the tread, Overall Height – the total distance the caster raises the cart of the ground from the tread to the fastener plate.  Generally, the larger the casters are, the higher the load capacity they can carry.  This becomes spread out across all of the casters, so if you have typically four casters on your cabinet, you will divide your total weight across the four casters.  Assuming you have a cabinet that weighs 100lbs and it has a load weight of 900lbs, your total weight would be 1000lbs.  As stated before, this weight will be divided by each caster giving you a total of 250lbs per caster.

Foodservice Equipment – Product Knowledge Guide: High-Speed Ovens

Source: Product Knowledge Guide: High-Speed Ovens – Foodservice Equipment & SuppliesPublished on Monday, 01 August 2016

Written by The Editors

High-speed or rapid-cook ovens refer to any oven that uses two or more heat transfer methods to reduce cooking time by more than 50 percent. This equipment may combine microwave technology with convection, impingement or radiant heating. Although units in this category don’t always include a microwave component, the majority utilize this technology for rapid heating along with another source for browning.

High-speed-14262215The biggest benefits of this equipment are speed and versatility. These benefits make high-speed ovens popular in quick-service operations, schools, healthcare facilities and retail spaces, where operators prepare anytime meals, serve multiple dayparts or offer convenience-style foods.

These ovens support a variety of applications, but most often they heat and serve menu items at the front counter. Food that is already produced, such as pizza or appetizers that cook in the oven, can be finished or reheated in dual-technology ovens. Items that take more time to cook, such as soufflés, can be prepared quicker with the help of these ovens. Although the units also can be used for raw proteins, this is not common in commercial applications.

Larger operations commonly use high-speed ovens in conjunction with other cooking equipment, such as fryers, to increase speed of service. Units that combine microwave, forced convection and infrared radiant heat offer cook times that can be as much as 15 times faster than a conventional oven, which can help increase menu flexibility. Some compact microwave/convection oven models cook four times faster than conventional ovens.

These countertop units provide powerful, versatile operation in a small area, maximizing space for operations with limited footprints. With the increasing issue of limited back-of-house space, along with expanding menus, these ovens have become more popular.

The majority of high-speed ovens have stainless steel construction both inside and out and ceramic plates inside. This equipment may include adjustable, chrome-plated legs and ergonomically styled handles.

Another benefit is that these units are extremely efficient to run since most of the day is spent on idle. This drives operational costs down to just a few dollars a day on average for most operations.

Most high-speed ovens are designed for countertop use, with depths between 20 and 30 inches. Capacities vary, with units accommodating ¼- to ½-size sheet pans, full-size hotel pans and 12- or 14-inch pizzas.

These ovens are generally electric, requiring at least 30 amps and either 208 or 240 watts. Temperature ranges vary depending on the type of oven but are typically between 150 degrees F and 550 degrees F. Microwave wattage ranges from 1000 to 2000, depending on the unit.

It would be difficult to find a high-speed oven model that isn’t ventless, which is one of its biggest selling features and allows these units to be installed in virtually any operation or location. Most high-speed ovens are designed to be stacked, further maximizing space, capacity and volume.

These ovens generally provide multiple set point temperatures, with some models offering automatic programming for close to 400 menu items. The data keys allow for the electronic transfer of cooking programs, which can save cooking time and aid in product consistency. Many models are moving toward resistive or capacitive touch-screen controls, which are user-friendly and intuitive, rather than push-button interfaces.

High-speed-Ovens-78617757Some high-speed ovens are Wi-Fi-enabled and can be connected to the internet for uploading recipes. This allows operators to leverage technology by sending menu updates to equipment in multiple locations and expand on limited-time offers more easily.

Operators may choose from various exterior colors with some models, which is beneficial for units used in the front of house. Some types also offer windows for users to view the cooking process taking place. An auto-unloading feature on some ovens presents the food to operators upon completion.

A number of high-speed oven accessories are available, including Teflon pans, sheet metal pans, baskets and pizza screens.

In the next few years, it is predicted there will be a switch from vacuum tube-style magnetron technology to solid-state technology for launching microwaves into these ovens.

Foodservice Tips – How Long to Cook Fish

Source: How Long to Cook Fish | LEAFtv

By Andrea Cespedes

Unless you’re eating sushi, no one wants undercooked fish. The amount of time it takes to cook fish depends on the type of fish you’re cooking, the size of the fish and the method that you’re using.

Methods, such as baking, sauteing, broiling, poaching and steaming, follow a 10-minute rule. For baking, set the oven to about 400 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Determine how thick the fish fillet or whole fish is at its thickest point. For every inch, plan for 10 minutes of cook time. So, if your fillet is 1/2 inch thick, you’ll need about five minutes.


Use the 10-minute rule for stuffed or rolled fish, too. Simply measure right before you put the fish in the oven, when the fish is completely prepped.

Turn the fish approximately halfway through the cooking time. But, if the fish is thin — less than 1/2 inch thick — turning is unnecessary.

The fish is safe to eat once it’s reached an internal temperature of 145 F when you insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest portion. Thin fillets — such as sole — can be visually inspected for doneness.


For fish that’s cooked en papillote, wrapped in foil or parchment paper, or in a sauce such as curried fish, add five minutes to the cook time. If you’re cooking fish straight from a frozen state — double the cook time. For example, a 1/2-inch steak needs 10 minutes.

A fish with pink or white flesh will appear opaque rather than translucent when fully cooked. The flesh should feel firm, but still look and feel moist. If you’re not sure, use a fork to break into the fillet. The meat should easily flake. Avoid overcooking fish as it dries out easily.

Fish steaks, including salmon and swordfish, respond well to grilling. They’re firm, so they stand up to the grates and this less precise method of cooking.

Preheat the grill. Ensure your grill is clean or you’ll risk having the fish stick and fall apart during the cooking process.

Place the fish steak directly on the grill in the hottest portion. Sear the outside for1 to 2 minutes per side.

Move the fish steak to a slightly cooler section of the grill to finish cooking. Use the 10-minute-per-inch rule.


If you’re grilling fish that still has skin attached, such as whitefish or coho salmon, place a greased layer of foil over the top of the grates and grill the fish, using the 10-minute rule.

To cook fillets on the grill, wrap them along with seasonings in foil and use the 10-minute rule. You should also wrap whole fish — and the 10-minute rule applies as well. Enhance the flavor of grilled fish with a flavorful marinade.


Holding pizza hot and fresh in a pizza warmer

The pizza market is a huge slice of the restaurant industry, reaching over $38 Billion in Pizza oven2015 according to PMG Pizza Magazine.  Pizzas are flying out of the ovens at an incredible rate as the restaurant industry is forecasted by the NRA (National Restaurant Association) to continue to grow.  Millennials are leading the way in pizza purchasing power and Mintel is projecting them to account for 30% of all U.S. retail sales by 2020.

Millennials are a generation of foodies who want pizza, and they want it now.  To keep wait times down and quality up, many pizza restaurants are using pizza warming cabinets.  These pizza hot boxes are designed to keep pizza hot while maintaining a high quality, service ready product.  The millennial foodie is aware of the quality products that are available; They know and seek out new, intense flavors, and textures of artisan dishes.

It’s paramount that pizzerias keep the high-quality product that they are turning out of their kitchens all the way through the sales processes.  The investment and efforts that are put into the staple menu item should not be neglected in the few precious minutes before the customer bites into the slice.  80% of what makes that product great, is what happens between the oven and the plate.

Specially designed foodservice equipment such as pizza warmers, or holding cabinets, are TS-1633-36made to maintain safe food temperatures while keeping the pizza as hot and fresh as it is right out of the oven.  To do this, companies such as FWE / Food Warming Equipment have figured out the ideal temperature and humidity settings specifically for pizza.  FWE has found that maintaining and holding pizza at 150°F – 160°F with a relative humidity* of 15% – 20% will keep the pizza at an optimal serving quality.

FWE’s hot holding pizza cabinets come with something very unique in the industry; They have a small removable water pan located by the heating elements and an air circulating fan, that allows for just the right amount of vapor to lift out of the water and humidify the cabinet.  This heated holding environment is made with your pizza in mind.  Being product specific when designed means they have engineered the correct wattage for food temperature, along with the correct air to moisture levels to maintain product consistency.

As the pizza industry is sure to continue to feed the generations following the millennials, the consumers are going to seek faster service and higher quality.  Foodservice solutions are available to help as labor becomes difficult to find, and as customers become more informed and picky.  Something as simple as a pizza warmer cabinet can help you get and keep that slice of pizza industry business.

* the amount of water vapor present in air expressed as a percentage of the amount needed for saturation at the same temperature.


Bring this to your boss: 10 reasons to attend – NAFEM

Source: Bring this to your boss: 10 reasons to attend – NAFEM

We get it: Taking even a day off from your fast-paced work routine is a lot to ask. But some events are worth breaking away. The NAFEM Show, Feb. 9-11 in Orlando, Fla., is the one place where you can truly focus on bringing your business to the next level – with innovative equipment and supplies and invaluable networking opportunities. Here’s why The NAFEM Show is worth your while:

  1. It brings together the best in the business, for your business. The racket of broader industry events can be distracting. At The NAFEM Show, you’ll focus exclusively on the foundation of operational success: innovations in equipment and supplies. With 500+ exhibitors offering the latest in prep, cooking, storage and service, you won’t find a more diverse, yet focused, show.
  2. Everything you’re looking for is in one place. Shopping for new equipment and supplies is time-consuming. Save time by browsing the latest products across every category in person at The NAFEM Show.
  3. The equipment and supplies are game-changing. Exhibitors bring their A-game to The NAFEM Show – and you reap the benefits. More than ever, the equipment and supply innovations you’ll see here have the power to drive down utility, labor and food costs, and improve customer satisfaction and food safety.
  4. The latest and greatest products are earmarked. The WHAT’S HOT! WHAT’S COOL!® New Product Gallery at The NAFEM Show displays unique new innovations in terms of equipment and supplies – in one convenient hub.
  5. Attendees are impressed. Nearly two-thirds of attendees of The NAFEM Show 2015 said the event was “much better than they expected” compared to other industry shows. What’s more, attendees spent an average of about 13 hours on the show floor over 2 days – that’s 3 hours more than the average trade show attendee.*
  6. You’ll be in good company. The NAFEM Show draws decision-makers from all segments of the foodservice industry. The best in the business attend, and you should too.
  7. The networking and entertainment rocks. Start the show off in high spirits with good food and drink, great company and a killer cover band; then, wrap things up at the After-Show Party. Big-name performers like Zac Brown Band and Jimmy Buffett have graced our After-Show Party stage. This year could be our biggest act yet. Sign up to be the first to hear about it.
  8. You’ll get valuable education and training opportunities. Several show exhibitors offer training and certification sessions in their booth – many with well-known and respected industry experts. Attendees also can certify as a Food Protection Manager during the show through the ServSafe Food Protection Manager’s Exam.
  9. Badges are a steal. The value of the show far outweighs your entry fee of just $30 (get the Early Bird rate!). What’s more, all attendees qualify for The NAFEM Show Scholarship Program: $500 to offset travel expenses.
  10. Orlando in February – need we say more? Sunny Orlando is a happy backdrop for our show. Take a break and invest in an experience that can take your business to the next level. 

Registration is now open – and there’s no show like it on earth.

* Average from Exhibit Surveys, Inc.’s all-show norm

Tips and Tricks – BBQ Brisket

Brisket is a great example of the perfect cut of meat that bodes well with barbecue.  As we know, barbecue is a method of indirect low and slow cooking.  Generally, meats that are tough need the low and slow technique to break down connective fibers to become  more tender and delicious.

You might now ask yourself “why is the brisket such a tough muscle?”.  Well, as cattle don’t have collar bones, and their heavy upper body that makes up over half its weight is supported by these chest muscles, this piece of meat holds up a lot of bovine weight.  That makes for a well-used Schwarzenegger approved daily work out.

In this post, I will be going over some of the basics about cooking a brisket that you may or may not already know.

Selecting Meat

Depending on where you shop, you will see a (NAMP 120) beef brisket, this comes with the Flat(120A) and the Point(120B) together, or you can purchase the individual cuts separately.  I personally use the Flat(120A) because it gives the best competition looking slices and cooks more evenly than the whole brisket.  For a better value the whole (120) can be used, the flat for brisket slices, and the point for burnt ends inside dishes such as your BBQ beans.

When you are looking at the meat you should take note of the marbling and the fat cap.  The fat cap should be pretty much trimmed at the time of purchase but a good rule of thumb is, if you press down on top of the fat, you should feel a little bit of a bounce, or give, to the pressure you put on it.  If the fat is so thick that it has no resistance when pressed down on, trim it to around 1/8th of an inch thick.



This is where you can get a little more creative in terms of flavor for your meat.  This step is not absolutely necessary, but if you wish, it’s very similar to making a marinade.  Use an apple cider, or cider vinegar, mixed with some stock and seasonings.  Be careful that your seasoning is ground fine enough to pass through your injector without clogging it up.  You can use tenderizing salt in the injection as a cheat for a more tender brisket and deeper smoke ring, but like I said, that’s a cheat and not condoned by the likes of me.  I have always been told you can never over inject meat, so apply as much or little as you wish.


This mop is not the same as a mop that is used to continue to baste with during the cooking process.  For this “precook” mop I use a mixture of hot sauce and mustard.  The hot sauce will add a bit of zing whereas the mustard will help in color and give your rub something to stick to.  Spread this mixture out over the meat coating the brisket all around.   Basting is not as necessary in an FWE Cook and Hold smoker because the design keeps the moisture in the meat better than typical barbecues.  However, I’m not going to tell you to stop adding flavor, if you wish too, baste away.  It’s just not necessary to the moisture level of the meat.


A tip to remember when selecting a rub is to be mindful of the sugar content in the blend.  I use a good amount of brown sugar in my rubs, so when I cook, I keep my temperature below 225 (sugar starts to burn or degrade above 225).

As for making your own or buying a premade mix?  I have heard it from many of the best in BBQ, they buy pre-manufactured rubs.  Making your own award winning rub takes a lot of time and effort, but in my humble opinion, I like to put my own spin on what I touch.  So when, or if I do, buy a premade rub, I always add a little something to it to make it my own.

Nate 4th Brisket Prep 3071

Cook by probe

Cook the brisket up to an internal temperature of 180F, at this temperature the product starts to break down and become very tender.  Depending on how tender you wish the product to be is determined by how long the product remains at this temperature.  To get your feet wet, cooking by a probe is the best way to get a great and consistent product.

Cook by Time Brisket slicesjpg

Once you have your system down, you might want to adjust your cooking process.  Some people cook at low temps like 225F for over 12 hours.  Cooking by time gives you more control of how long your product is at that internal temp of 180F getting it even more tender.  It does come at the risk of making a mistake that can overcook or dry out the product.


With meat that has a robust strong flavor like a brisket, you want to smoke it with a hardwood that really smacks with flavor.  Use a hickory or mesquite to really get a solid flavor, save your fruit woods like apple and cherry for pork or chicken.  I have soaked my chips with liquids such as port wine and beer to add a little more dimension to the smoke profile.  You can get real creative in the wood chip department, people smoke with things like corn cob, grape vine, and even tea leaves.