Reach-In Refrigeration

The commercial refrigeration guidelines will be different and unique for every type of foodservice operation. There are several aspects  to consider, when determining the type of refrigeration that is needed. So, keep the following information in mind as you move forward with your restaurant kitchen design to ensure you meet your refrigerated storage needs. Make sure to review our post “Walk-in Refrigeration Selection” if you think your requirements will take you beyond your typical reach-in refrigeration units.

Base Your Commercial Refrigeration Guidelines on:

Menu Mix

The types of ingredients you will be purchasing will have a large impact on the types and quantities of refrigeration you will want to install in your commercial kitchen. Foodservice concepts that rely heavily on meat and seafood items will need to ensure there is adequate, if not separate storage, for these items to be stored on the bottom shelves of your refrigerated and frozen units. This is done to ensure that should one of the boxes/packages containing meat or seafood begin to leak, it will not drip down and cross contaminate the inventory beneath it. Depending on you concept, you may also require more frozen storage than is typically necessary such as in the case of a restaurant that offers sushi. Health code states that seafood used for sushi must be frozen prior to serving to ensure any parasites are dispatched in the flesh.

Frequency of Deliveries

The commercial refrigeration guidelines are also dictated by the frequency of the deliveries you receive from your vendors. Depending on the location of your restaurant and your access to fresh ingredients, you may have the ability to receive meat, seafood and produce deliveries on a daily, or semi-daily basis which will reduce your total refrigerated and frozen storage requirements. Conversely, if your ability to receive deliveries are relegated to a longer time frame, you will need to compensate in your restaurant kitchen design by adding enough storage to safely hold enough inventory until you receive your next delivery. An extreme example of this situation taking place was the Kampala Uganda Hilton Hotel Kitchen Design. This project’s storage requirements for meat, eggs and dairy we based on receiving delivery of such items on a monthly basis… Talk about an intense lesson in forecast ordering.

Purchasing Capacity

Cash flow in a restaurant concept is always a difficult aspect to manage, so ensuring your the budget in your business plan allows for a bulk purchasing approach, you will reduce your overall food cost and increase your bottom line. Understanding your purchasing strategy in the design phase is of critical importance in determining the commercial refrigeration guidelines for your project. It will be far more inexpensive to purchase say a case of romaine lettuce versus buying a couple heads. However, you will of course need to ensure you had adequate space to store it, as well as know if your sales will provide the ability to go through the whole case prior to it going bad. Typically, when you can buy ingredients in larger quantities, the costs go down, but obviously, you also need to store them safely.


I will close this post with a story that fits this discussion on commercial refrigeration guidelines… Not that long ago, we had a client with whom we were discussing their menu prior to beginning their commercial kitchen design. When I commented on the approximate size of refrigeration he would need for his concept, he was a little taken aback and stated that he thought it was too much for simply selling sandwiches. I said OK, then let’s look at your cheeseburger for example. Your going to buy burger patties at a 24-count case, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, correct? He said yes. I said OK, are you going to offer cheese? He said yes. I said how many cheese options are you going to offer. He said 5. I said OK, what about condiments? He said ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and thousand island dressing. I said alright, now that I have the tally for ONE item on your menu, if you purchase 1 case of each of these ingredients you will effectively need a shelving unit that is 24” x 72” x 72” just to store the cases of product for this one item. Of course, his response was that he would purchase smaller quantities of each ingredient to save money. I advised him that the moral of the story is that you may save some money upfront on refrigeration costs, but you will ultimately spend more money on ingredients in the long-term since you cannot use the purchase power of ordering by the case. If it were my money, I would rather spend a couple extra dollars upfront and reap the rewards of higher profits down the road.


Other helpful blog posts:

Equally as important when looking at the kitchen is how it relates to other areas of your project so we also suggest you read our posts about overall restaurant interior design.

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