Probably the most popular restaurant kitchen design concept in America is the fast casual restaurant kitchen. There will always be a place for experiential fine dining restaurants, but they are becoming fewer and father between, due to the high cost of development.

Studies show that people eat out more than they ever have in history. Our fast-moving society, coupled with two income households who may also be raising children have most families dining out upwards of 5 times a week. Fast casual restaurant kitchen concepts were developed to meet the needs of these guests by providing familiar food items, executed quickly and offered at a reasonable price so as to be more of a convenience to their guests than an experience.

We are all familiar with the fast casual restaurant concepts, made popular by famous restaurant chains such as TGI Friday’s, Chili’s and Applebees; to name a few. The operational strategy of these fast casual restaurant kitchen concepts is that almost every item on the menu is prepared to almost completion prior to being ordered. In the instance of a restaurant chain concept, most items are prepared off site at some form of commissary kitchen and shipped to the individual restaurant where for most items, they simply need to reheat the product that was delivered from the commissary kitchen. For example, just last week I visited one of these fast casual restaurant concepts and ordered a salad that came with a dressed-up flatbread as a garnish. When I placed my order, I asked the server to bring me the flatbread without any cheese, since I do not eat dairy. After a few moments in the kitchen, she returned and apologized to me saying that all the flatbreads on the menu already have cheese on them, and asked if I would like something else instead. So clearly, of the 5 different flatbreads that were on the menu, every single once was delivered to the restaurant completely assembled so all the cooks need to do is actually cook it.

Creating a non-chain fast casual restaurant kitchen concept would follow a similar operational strategy, albeit without the convenience of items being sent to you completely prepared. The idea is to develop your menu, and most importantly, your preparation list to create your menu items in a way that allows the chefs to simply fire the items upon order, with minimum editing of the item itself. This allows for the popular 10-minute ticket time in a fast casual concept.

Every fast casual concept will have different kitchen design requirements, so it is of great value to hire a restaurant design consultant that has a varied background in many different types of operating environments. Having an intimate understanding of how to prepare the menu items to pre-execution, will help to ensure your fast casual restaurant kitchen can provide the coveted 10-minute ticket time these concepts strive for.

Since there is no single approach to designing a fast casual restaurant kitchen , the design & layout strategy for development would be similar to the a small café or restaurant concept. We’ve previously authored several posts on these styles of restaurant concepts so for convenience, I’ve placed some relevant links below.


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