Much like a small restaurant kitchen design, or a small cafe design, a small cafe kitchen layout requires strategic planning to ensure optimal operating efficiency. The foodservice designation of a cafe can mean different things to different people so for our purposes, we will assume this means a very small restaurant type operation that offers a limited food menu to customers that may or may not provide a coffee shop type atmosphere with associated offerings.
As you develop your menu, one strategy that needs to be implemented is pre-fabricating as many menu components as possible. Sure, we’ve all seen on Hell’s Kitchen where the chefs cook dry pasta to order… But those of us in the real world understand that it is just not practical to cook everything from start to finish for every order, so there is a certain amount of pre-preparation that is necessary to keep the customers flowing quickly. In a small cafe kitchen layout, this strategy is critically important since the space for food preparation and service is usually provided at a minimum.
Particularly for operations that serve many multi-ingredient dishes such as an expansive salad menu, it will be helpful, if not absolutely necessary to consolidate garnishes for each respective dish for quick and easy access during assembly. This typically requires the use of a sandwich-top refrigerator, or cold bain marie, as it is often referenced in professional kitchen environments and is a necessity in any small cafe kitchen layout.
In a perfect scenario, all ingredients, refrigeration and cooking appliances will be at arm’s length in any workstation. This will allow the chef or cook to generate a vast amount of muscle memory to execute the menu items in way that can only be termed via a Spaceballs reference, Ludicrous Speed! When the chef or cook has all ingredients and equipment at arm’s length to execute the dishes he or she is responsible for, after a certain amount of time, they literally go on autopilot. They see the order come in, read the ticket item, and the brain literally executes the dish without the chef or cook consciously moving their arms towards the ingredients. Organize the small cafe kitchen layout properly, make the dish the same way enough times (everyone generates this muscle memory differently), and I can tell you from experience, you will literally execute the menu without consciously thinking about it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flawlessly maintained a full 12 burner stove while carrying on a conversation with the busboy about the latest movie release, or talking about the great new beer at the bar.
Keep in mind that as you create your design team, using a restaurant kitchen design consultant with real world operating experience to develop your small café layout will ensure you and you staff will have the ability to literally, generate revenue on autopilot.