What Makes a Commercial Kitchen? (Full Explanation)

Restaurants, bakeries, food trucks, pubs, and everything between have kitchens in the core of their business, and it is important to understand what makes them commercial grade?

This article will teach you everything you need to know about commercial kitchens, the differences between some, and certain additional important things to understand about commercial kitchens. But before we get into those things, we need to determine what makes a commercial kitchen?

For a kitchen to be determined as commercial, the facilities need to be licensed by food service providers and several inspectors to prepare and store food. In addition, there are equipment and layout requirements that need to be approved so the kitchen can be commercial grade.

There is much more to the subject than that, so if you truly want to understand what makes a commercial kitchen, we need to get into the 3 main factors that determine whether the kitchen is a commercial grade or not. Let’s take a look!

Commercial equipment & supplies

All commercial kitchens need to have proper cooking and storage equipment to do business for customers. The equipment and supplies need to be fit for usage in terms of safety and hygiene. That’s why restaurants use stainless steel nearly in everything, among other benefits that stainless steel offers.

Refrigerator and freezer temperatures need to achieve the needed storage temperatures, so everyone can be assured that the food has been stored properly and have the minimum amount of bacteria and chance for contamination. Also, the dishwasher temperature needs to be optimized for commercial use because only then is it certain that dinnerware and cooking supplies are really sanitized and healthy to use.

Ventilation is another part of commercial kitchens that needs to be according to the requirements. You should always check your local information about the subject, but in general, all commercial kitchens need to have range hoods that filter the air from cooking steams, odors, and heat.

Also, a filtering system is required above high-temperature dishwashers because they generate so much steam that needs to be cycled away from the facilities.

A commercial kitchen needs to have multiple industrial sinks as well. One of the sinks is used for cleaning, and the another required is used for handwashing. That’s right; commercial kitchens need to have a specific sink and faucet for hand washing. In fact, in addition to the handwashing sinks, most kitchens have at least a couple of sinks where one of them is a double compartment sink or bigger.

This isn’t a requirement, but all restaurants have proper cooking equipment such as ranges and stoves. This enables the restaurants to cook for large quantities of customers by having multiple orders coming simultaneously.

Lastly, commercial kitchens need to monitor the food temperatures they serve. Especially with chicken, beef, fish, and other animal products need to be carefully monitored so the chefs can serve safe food to the customers.

Kitchen’s layout

Commercial kitchen’s layout needs to be smart, safe, and check the requirements for the restaurant to remain in business.

For example, there needs to be enough space between the appliances, so it’s safe to work in the kitchen. If the layout were to be done badly and the appliances would be too close to each other, it would seriously harm the workflow and increase the risks that are already present in the restaurant’s kitchen.

Planning the kitchen’s layout with efficiency, ease of work by looking at distances, and the organization features is essential if the kitchen wants to operate at a professional, commercial level.

The layout doesn’t concern the health departments either than in terms of food safety. For example, you shouldn’t place your mops and dirty brushes too close to the grills, neither should you install a mop sink close to a bar sink and things like that.

Requirements & Licenses

Last but definitely not least. In fact, requirements and licenses are the single most important things to get right if the kitchen wants to get permission to be open for the public and prepare and store food.

Before starting the restaurant, the relationship with your local health department starts as soon as you start to design the kitchen’s layout and business plan. You need to explain your plans and required conditions to the department to get the required licenses for the business.

You should always check your local country’s and state’s laws, requirements, and departments that you need to be in contact with. In addition, you need to pay fees to get the licenses, and you need to renew them annually.

Restaurants have other requirements, such as fire alarms and detectors that need to be up to code, and a commercial kitchen always needs to have a fire extinguisher. Escape routes and exits need to be marked clearly, and there needs to be enough of them as well. In addition, there needs to be enough space between the walkways.

With these 3 major things in order, a kitchen can be called and determined as a commercial grade kitchen.

Types of commercial kitchen layouts

There are many different layout types for commercial kitchens but 5 of them are the most popular on used ones. Below you will find the best ones that the vast majority of restaurants are using.

Assembly line layout

Assembly line layouts are designed to be fast and efficient. Most restaurants that use assembly line kitchens are fast food or fast-casual restaurants that constantly prepare similar foods; therefore, cook, assemble and deliver routine works the best.

Island layout

Island layouts work the best when there are many things to do at the same time. This is why many high-end and fine dining restaurants use island layouts. It enables multiple chefs to work at the main center of the kitchen.

Zone layout

Zone kitchens are brilliant choices for catering-style kitchens because these restaurants are usually packed with staff that work with a huge variety of meals, snacks, and drinks. This is why the zone kitchen is like one room with multiple sectors on it without any obstacles along the way.

It’s essential that you designate specific people with specific skillsets to each sector because moving between the sectors will only create chaos in a catering-styled kitchen.

Galley layout

If you look closely at the galley-style kitchen, you can imagine it being inside of a food truck. This is why galley layouts are the number one choice for food trucks, mainly because of limited space and the shape of the trucks.

Galley kitchens work great when there are only one or couple workers there because it allows fast movement between sectors and that is essential especially in food trucks because even when they are quite small, they usually offer surprisingly large menus

Open kitchen layout

Open kitchens are often disliked by chefs but loved by customers, and as a chef, I can confirm this 100%. Many restaurants have applied the open kitchen model to their business because it will entertain guests. Also, if the restaurant has space problems, they can rely on the open kitchen layout.

You can often see an open kitchen at expensive restaurants known for their entertainment abilities or kitchens that couldn’t survive without one due to size.

What is the meaning of a commercial kitchen

Commercial kitchens exist because they prepare food at restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, hospitals, schools, and workplaces. Commercial kitchens are industrial food preparing facilities that cook and serve food for the customers with industrial-level equipment.

What is the difference between a commercial kitchen and a domestic kitchen

The difference between commercial and domestic kitchens are the size, quality of equipment, and functionality. Commercial kitchens usually prepare food for customers following certain guidelines, whereas domestic kitchens have simple equipment, usually at home.

Can you make your home kitchen a commercial kitchen

You can make your home kitchen a commercial one by licensing the kitchen according to your local laws and requirements. You need to design your kitchen wisely so you can install needed appliances accordingly. To get started, you need to contact your local departments and present your plan to them.

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What is the best floor for a commercial kitchen

The best floor material for commercial kitchens is vinyl. Vinyl floors are slip-resistant, durable for cleaners, easy to clean with low maintenance, and it’s the most comfortable floor type to stand on. Considering these perks, it’s no wonder that vinyl floors are the most used floors in commercial kitchens.


Commercial kitchens need proper appliances, licenses, and a working layout to be considered a commercial kitchen. There is much more to commercial kitchens than these aspects, but the 3 things we discussed will be enough for that commercial label.

I hope that this article gave your real value and you now know more about the restaurant industry, which you can perhaps implement into your own life to make it easier.

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS. While I love writing about food, I also enjoy peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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