To keep up with the constantly expanding and diverse client base that restaurants are trying to please, trends in the food sector are continually changing and evolving. One of the most recent ideas that have proven to be quite helpful to the industry is the centralized kitchen.
In the long run, central kitchens have been shown to reduce waste in the restaurant business. They can lower waste and costs associated with hiring people, purchasing food, maintaining equipment, and finding new locations.
Since all food preparation takes place in one continuous area, centralized kitchens offer more consistency, better restaurant brand operations, and financial and environmental advantages.
In this article, we’ll go to great length about all the information you should know about the central kitchen, including how it works and its advantages, among other things. Let’s start with the fundamentals first.
What is a centralized kitchen?
A central kitchen is a shared cooking area run by a single restaurant chain that provides room to cook and store food for various restaurants such as food trucks and other small restaurants. New or up-growing restaurants can rent a central kitchen due to a lack of space for large-scale food preparation and storage.
Restaurants increasingly use central kitchens because they provide a suitable location for branches to cook goods in bulk. Additionally, they are helpful for small restaurants since central kitchens offer all the benefits of a contemporary, high-tech kitchen without the long-term commitment of purchasing their own.
What specifications must a centralized kitchen meet?
A central kitchen often has the following specifications:
Ensuring food safety and quality
When food preparation is relocated to a central kitchen, there is a notion that food quality is lost. Therefore, developing and testing a standard recipe for mass production, making sure you are using the classic recipes, and investing in equipment to help you retain the quality are the keys to preserving quality.
It’s crucial to maintain high standards of cleanliness, remind personnel to follow hygienic guidelines, and ensure that chillers and freezers are kept at the appropriate temperatures if you want to ensure consistent food safety on a bigger scale.
Managing the workforce
Employee training for the central kitchen is crucial since it reduces employees’ resistance to change and strengthens their capacity for adaptation. A central kitchen would use special equipment and procedures; therefore, early training on equipment use is crucial.
Job satisfaction is essential because it guarantees that each person’s role is highly specialized and that rigorous adherence to standards and norms is required. As a restaurant owner, you must anticipate the risk of boredom from repetitive activities and take preventative measures to boost morale.
Employee safety is essential since the work is physically demanding and involves repetitive movements that can lead to boredom and loss of concentration when using potentially lethal equipment. Install safety signage, and give employees regular breaks to refresh their bodies and brains.
How can you start a centralized kitchen?
There are two distinct methods for creating a central kitchen that you can use when opening a restaurant, that is:
You might decide to create a central kitchen model before opening your restaurant and include it in your business plan. Alternatively, if your restaurant has developed and evolved, you might make your unique products by establishing a central kitchen.
All of your employees, those in charge of storage, distribution, human resources, maintenance, equipment, the purchasing process, and communications, need to contribute to the establishment of a central kitchen.
What are the factors to consider while designing a centralized kitchen?
Without careful planning, designing a central kitchen may be very expensive. So, before drawing up the ideas for your central kitchen design, here are some things to consider.
Choose the menu
Knowing the basics of your menu is all-important whether you are working with a predetermined menu or are still in the creative stage. Everything you do, including the equipment you purchase and how the flow is set up, will depend on what you serve.
Coordination between teams
The managerial staff should collaborate with development, operations, construction, and your chef to design the central kitchen. Without feedback from other teams, you risk overlooking crucial factors like the requirement for monitoring, flow, and delivery.
The influence of a chef is more apparent when creating a central kitchen. A chef can offer insight into the workflow, hygienic standards, and general layout demands.
Measure the space
There are more factors to consider than only the square footage while taking accurate measurements for the central kitchen design process. It would be best if you now think about everything, including the entryway, plumping, and electrical outlets.
Think about the kitchen’s process
Central kitchens are chaotic by their very nature, but planning with this in mind will make the process go more smoothly. There are various methods to split the kitchen based on the anticipated workflow, from modular stations to assembly lines and more, depending on the type of service you are willing to provide and your menu.
The most effective central kitchens are those in which the workforce is kept to a minimum, and this is only possible by including ergonomic design. Using ergonomic design in your commercial kitchen can help you avoid mishaps and accidental food spills and speed up customer service by cutting down on lengthy waiting times at the restaurant.
Health codes and rules you must not forget
When establishing a central kitchen, you must make sure you are taking various laws and regulations into account. For instance, organizing a meeting with an inspector before you start building is crucial because each state has different standards for commercial kitchens that you need to consider.
Efficient use of energy
The location of all the cooking ranges in one area is a surefire strategy to reduce energy usage in central kitchen designs, directly affecting your energy bills.
Since every restaurant planner knows that good ventilation is crucial for the safety and comfort of the hotel employees, proper ventilation is given a lot of consideration in the design of every centralized kitchen. Additionally, it prevents the smell of food from permeating the waiting areas for your dinner.
Adaptability and modularity
Since a central kitchen is a dynamic entity, its design should be flexible. If you remodel the menu, introduce new items, or bring on a new executive chef who runs things differently from the previous one. You can use a multipurpose workstation or portable tools to design a flexible workspace.
What are the common centralized kitchen safety recommendations?
In addition to working with hot surfaces and boiling liquids, the kitchen can be dangerous because you must also handle sharp knives and tools that have the potential to injure you instantly. So let’s study some culinary safety tips.
Dress safely and wear shoes
For kitchen safety, wearing suitable clothing and sturdy shoes is crucial. Avoid wearing synthetic clothing, which can melt into your flesh if it catches fire, and ensure you’re not wearing anything loose or combustible.
Up and down movement around the kitchen will almost guarantee accidents. Unless you are a pro, cut food ingredients carefully and do not run from station to station, and also take your time while moving hot pots and pans.
Use hot pads at all times
Always use hot pads for any bowl, pot, or pan that has been in an appliance. Use these hot pads on the bowl you take out of the microwave oven.
Stir away from your body
Constantly stir off your body when stirring to prevent severe burns on your arms or whole body. A burn could result from some liquid food products that bubble up and splatter on your body.
Master the use of knives
Understanding how to use knives safely and respectfully is essential. A dull knife might slip and cut, so make sure all of your blades are sharp. Additionally, practice slowing down until you feel confident while constantly paying attention while you chop.
Find out how to put out fires
It’s crucial to keep a fire extinguisher close by in your central kitchen and to be familiar with its operation before you need it. Call the fire department if you can’t put out the fire in a few seconds since it can spread swiftly and out of control in a minute.
Be wary of steam
Since steam may burn just as readily as boiling liquid or a hot burner, it’s always a good idea to be watchful and vigilant, especially when it comes to covered microwaved dishes and foods cooked in packets. Open these packets away from your face, and use hot pads if necessary to prevent burns.
Handle your equipment with care
Reading and comprehending the appliance manuals before using the appliance is crucial. This will aid in preventing cuts from cutting tools and other associated culinary mishaps.
Clean up spills immediately
Spill cleanup will help you avoid accidents and save time cleaning the kitchen. Spills of water and oil make the floor slippery, which makes a fall inevitable.
Have a first aid kit on hand in the kitchen
Make sure your first aid kit has standard equipment, including a doctor’s cellphone number and an emergency number of a nearby hospital.
How do you manage a centralized kitchen?
Running a central kitchen differs from a typical restaurant kitchen, requiring more outstanding preparation and specialized equipment. A central kitchen is in charge of ensuring the smooth operation of multiple restaurants. As a result, there is much more pressure to maintain everything organized, clean, and functional.
Invest in a restaurant POS system that ensures servers act as an all-in-one inventory and sales tracker for all outlets to ensure a profitable operation.
If a restaurant has a central kitchen, it needs to have a system to ensure the ingredients are always available and the collecting procedures go smoothly and with the fewest possible errors.
In what ways do central kitchens influence outlet operations?
A centralized kitchen will always impact your outlets’ kitchen operations. Let’s examine the most affected areas.
The Periodic Automatic Replenishment stock system in the central kitchen determines how little food is needed to complete the busiest service. New stocks should be indented once stock levels reach the pre-specified minimum quantity.
Facilities and equipment
Since the central kitchen handles most of the cooking, the outlet kitchen’s operations are altered in several ways. For example, the need for less outlet kitchen space, less storage space, more basic cooking equipment, and less flexibility in changing the menu in response to customer requests.
A restaurant with a central kitchen typically experiences higher turnover and more space for multiple sitting, which shorten wait times and improve the restaurant’s customer service level. You must hire sizable wait staff to accomplish this.
Standard operating procedures versus a standard recipe
Have your restaurant’s personnel follow the routine operating procedures to produce a meal rather than standard recipes. Since less cooking is required, the emphasis is placed on warming or getting the food ready to serve.
What are the benefits of having a centralized kitchen in a restaurant?
Having a central kitchen for your restaurant operation has several advantages. Let’s explore some of the benefits in this section.
Aid in boosting efficiency
A centralized kitchen substantially increases your efficiency since it automates processes, streamlines procedures, and batch activities. A central kitchen can become more productive, primarily in human resources and inventory.
- Human resources.
You can save labor that you can employ for other duties by automating many of your procedures. Since a central kitchen houses many components, your specific restaurant’s staff can now concentrate on other responsibilities like managing queues to shorten wait times at the establishment.
Utilizing a central kitchen for your time-consuming cooking and storage activities can significantly increase efficiency at your restaurant and free up a lot of staff. It can also help you boost your entire marketing and services.
Larger purchases made at wholesale prices and fewer deliveries will lower your costs due to a larger facility. Additionally, since everything is in one location, it is simple to keep track of purchases, allowing you to reduce waste and purchase only the things you require and utilize.
Quality and taste consistency
You can maintain consistency in your final output by using a central kitchen. Your dishes have a sure texture and distinctive flavor across your other locations because you use the same tools, recipes, and employees.
Additionally, it enables you to uphold a standard for your food’s quality. Customers appreciate that food and beverage businesses with a central kitchen can maintain consistent standards and quality throughout their locations.
Expanding your business
You have options to expand your firm in directions you may not have previously considered if you have a central kitchen. For instance, if a particular component of your meals is well received, you can think about preparing it for nearby markets or other restaurants.
You now have a second source of income that doesn’t need more resources or personnel to operate. It allows you to expand into other areas by enabling you to test the market.
Reduction in unit cost
Using a central kitchen makes it very simple to reduce per-unit costs, resulting in significant financial savings. Additionally, there will be a reduction in waste and spoiling because of an improved and more practical ability to account for all of your goods.
Despite the somewhat hefty initial outlay, it will be well worth it in the long run. As your facility size and equipment consumption grow, the more cost advantages you have, your organization is more prominent.
Improved efficiency in the kitchen
The primary cooking and other chores are completed in the central kitchen, which alters how the numerous outlet kitchens function. Outlet kitchens run more efficiently with fewer rooms and personnel.
Since most of the labor-intensive work is done in a central kitchen, each independent outlet kitchen needs a few essential culinary tools to complete the task of mixing the main ingredient and serving.
A potential source of income
It can be a brilliant idea to rent out expensive, heavy-duty cooking and freezing equipment. You spent a lot of money putting up a good central kitchen for smaller eateries, cafes, and food trucks that might not be able to set up their high-end kitchen just yet.
Your central kitchen automatically turns into a reliable secondary source of revenue and has the potential to make you a lot of money. When you first set up your restaurant and central kitchen, this may only be a side income, but it can help you break even.
Brand name and distinctive style
Your distinctive brand might emerge from having a constant level of quality and flavor since your clients will be able to associate you with your unusual cooking technique or your homemade products. This may be remarkable for brand growth and give your brand credibility and consumer appeal.
Standard operating procedures and recipes
The outlet kitchen only needs to handle menial duties because most of the significant cooking operations are conducted in the central kitchen. The outlet personnel need not be exceptionally skilled chefs or cooks to provide high-quality meals for the consumers.
In the central kitchen, you must rigorously follow the primary recipes. The culinary staff at the outlet must still care about putting each meal together, offering top-notch service, and delivering it to the customers.
What difficulties does a central kitchen present?
Using a central kitchen also has some potential drawbacks you must consider while planning to have one. To find out what they are, keep reading.
Since real estate is less expensive and they can afford a larger space, many central kitchens will decide to locate outside the city or in the suburbs. However, the rental expenses will decrease. As a result, more gas will need to be purchased and more time will be lost getting from the kitchen to your consumers, which results in long waits.
You’ll need to adjust your timetables when using a central kitchen with other restaurants to guarantee that everyone has access. And even though you might be using the space equally, it might be at an inappropriate hour, such as early in the morning or late at night, which won’t fit everyone’s schedule.
Hefty setup cost
Due to the vast space needed for high-production cooking, a central kitchen venue’s cost can be very costly, especially in cities with limited land. Significant expenditure is also required for the equipment and upkeep of major kitchen facilities.
Many restaurants utilize central kitchens because they would like to create their own components like bread and sauces. Restaurants are making all their ingredients in one location and distributes them to all their outlets.
Having a central kitchen can have a significant impact on your restaurant business, despite having some drawbacks. Additionally, it dramatically impacts how your restaurant outlet kitchen operates daily.