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Need creative ideas for storage in a cramped restaurant kitchen

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Doing some work for a local restaurant trying to get it back on track, cleaned up, running more efficiently.  So, I'm looking for some creative ideas for increasing storage in a very small kitchen. 

post #2 of 8


No one can or should answer this till they see a plan or layout of the space.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #3 of 8

Rent a container and put it outside the back door.

post #4 of 8
Two layers of solid stainless shelves lining as much of the kitchen as possible.
post #5 of 8

So without seeing any layout I'll offer this as a veteran of cramped small spaces who is currently re-designing a cramped, small space. 

1. Remove the clutter. What is in the kitchen that can be removed? A possible, although labor intensive idea, is to remove everything and only put back those things you really need. Short of that, there is likely to be a variety of items that sit around with little or no use. If it needs repair, remove it. If you plan to use it someday but do not use it now, get rid of it. A good general rule of thumb is to only keep items used on a daily basis. Anything used once a week or less should be taken out. This includes extra pots and pans, lids, odd containers, broken printers, no longer used supplies, excess spices and food products, small hand tools, paper supplies of any kind, half empty or worn out cleaning supplies no longer used, etc.  

2. Look for under utilized storage in other areas of the building. Does the clutter extend to the rest of the building? Are there poorly used, forgotten places under a counter or in a half forgotten closet? If there is a dry, clean basement, is it used for efficient storage or as a repository for forgotten items? 

Are there pieces of equipment no longer used by the restaurant that are kept only because they have intrinsic value but need repair or maintenance? 

3. Walk through the entire building with a notebook and write down anything you feel is questionable. Bring the list to the owners for review  to see what they are willing to adjust.

4. As strange as this may sound, I have found that a good rule of thumb for beginning to clarify things is to start by attempting to clean the floor from wall to wall. This forces you to confront everything that sits on it. Can you get it off the floor permanently? if not, why not?  

5. Peg boards are useful for utilizing wall space.

6. Observe human behavior. A. Do the employees waste space by keeping  personal items, like purses, bags, coats, in unsuitable areas? Do they have an alternative? 

B. Are there habitual behaviors based on past needs that could be altered. As an example, is the butter stored in the front cooler because the roll warmer used to sit next to it, but the restaurant no longer serves warm rolls and the roll warmer is long gone? 

7. Clutter also extends to the menu. In a previous post you mentioned out of control food costs. How much storage space, refrigerated, frozen or dry, is taken up by food that is little used or could be eliminated. Onions typically earn their keep by being used in multiple dishes. Leftover ingredients/specialty ingredients from past menu items can collect quickly with a changing menu. If they won't get used soon, create a daily special to utilize them or get rid of them. 

     Just a few ideas to get started with. Once the clutter is gone, you can begin re-thinking the efficient layout of whatever is left. 

Hope this helps. 

post #6 of 8

Most shelving units ship with 4 shelves.

These units are usually built identical to each other, each shelf being at the the same level as shelves on other units.

Reorganizing items by height (gallon mustard, relish, olives, etc. all on one shelf) can usually reduce dead space (space above items and below upper shelf), and allow you to add more shelving.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #7 of 8

I have lived in a tiny, cramped OPEN kitchen for three years now and am constantly rethinking storage and working methods. An open kitchen has certain special requirements, as customers will appreciate a neat and attractive set-up. Thankfully, I have a back room for dish washing and some of the more messy work.

Anyway, as has been said before, the walls are your friends, while the floor is your enemy. In my open kitchen area, I have fenced myself in with stainless steel shelves mounted on top of my work tops, because I have always struggled to keep my mise en place organised during frantic services, not least because I often work on my own and there is rarely any time to tidy up mid-service. Now I keep my mise on three levels, don't have to run back and forth all the time and can do most of my in-service work turning through 360° with just a couple of steps away from my range, oven, flattop grill, pass, etc. My pass is also a two-level shelf unit with infrared heaters mounted below the bottom shelf, so plates are kept warm on the bottom shelf, while plated food is kept warm below. The top shelf of the pass is dedicated to stuff I need for plating, i.e. garnishes etc. I have also incorporated a small bain marie (steam table) into the pass area. Furthermore, I have mounted an old five-foot IKEA curtain rail across the top of the wall that is taken up by the doorway leading to the back room, equipped it with hooks and hung all my small sauté pans on it.

 

In the back room I essentially have one long worktop which I have separated into "stations", as tiny as they may be, but there's a system to it, i.e. salads, schnitzel breading, Kitchen Aid (in constant use for spatzle batter) etc. Above, there are two levels of shelving, the lower one of which is dedicated to often-used ingredients such as condiments etc., because the workspace doubles as a prepping area outside service hours.

 

So, in addition to using wall space for storage, you may want to think about double-duty areas that can be converted from a prepping to a service function.

A few months ago I read an interesting article on tiny restaurant kitchens in New York City and the ingenious ways in which the owners/chefs made them work. Their strategies even extended to their menus, as they had to devise some dishes that could be produced in a single pan due to their lack of hob real estate. One chef had a worktop made that could be folded down onto the sink just to gain a couple more square feet of work space. I found that article really educational and inspirational; unfortunately, I can no longer find it on the net.

 

Good luck!

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you, Chefwriter and Recky!  Excellent ideas.  Chefwriter, YES, the menu needs an overhaul.  The kid they have in there now as the acting "head chef" (they hired me to get the restaurant/ kitchen back on track) is overwhelming himself with his menu.  My goal is to get everything stream-lined, cleaned and very pared down.  I made the heart-stopping mistake of bending down to look under the stove and prep table.  Cleaning the kitchen from top to bottom will be the first task and then we are going to tackle the space and storage issues.  The kid is a really nice, humble kid, but is in way over his head.  Sanitation is a huge problem.

We will be removing items that have not been used in over 6 months.  I am going to present a budget to the owner and see if we can't get shelving units mounted on the wall to eliminate the under table clutter (and filth).  Simple things, like a wall-mounted paper towel and soap dispenser will help immensely with the clutter.  The line-jockeys have their stuff everywhere.  So, hoping to put an end to that as well.

I'll post more as the transition progresses.

Thanks again for your advice.  Greatly appreciated!!

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