It is a universally acknowledged truth among people who have worked BOH (‘back of house’ for those new to the biz), that one of the most valuable assets in a working kitchen is counter space. It is the kitchen's heart, where all the food is prepped and plated; the cornerstone of a restaurant that deserves the very best. Anyone that’s worked in a commercial kitchen understands that efficiency is king. Having an adequately laid out workspace is critical to achieving that ideal.
If you’ve worked in a commercial kitchen you’ve been there: the dinner rush is in full speed, cooks are moving about getting their ingredients, dodging the dish crew while the prep crew is busy prepping for the next shift, the heat from the grills are scorching, each second becoming more pronounced, all the while under the hawk's eye of the head chef and his army of sous chefs bearing down. There is one mission: get the food to the window as fast as possible. The last thing a kitchen needs in mid-shift is to run out of counter space. There is a flow to the kitchen that allows for efficiency on the line, ease on the pass, and smooth sailing to run the dish. The kitchen is an inherently dangerous place that is prone to accidents. It is necessary to keep the flow to balance productivity and safety while dealing with fire, sharp objects, and many people milling around. Keeping a head chef happy can be a challenging endeavor. Still, one of the easiest ways is to design a kitchen with ample counter space.
Designing a kitchen and choosing the appropriate work/prep table can be challenging and overwhelming. Thankfully, we have created a guide to help you select the ideal countertop table.
WHAT'S ON THE MENU?
When choosing your commercial grade table, it is imperative to talk to your chef and know the menu. Understanding the intention of the kitchen and what foods will be served will help determine your counter space requirements. It will give you an idea of which type of layout will be best in producing the best quality food while maintaining an adequate flow.
Kitchen layouts and counter space needs are different depending on the type of service you are providing. A large Italian restaurant, a small counter space ramen shop, or a food truck requires different needs. Once you have that in mind, you will get a sense of the size and layout, helping you envision the worktables needed.
This is the foundation of choosing which worktables are needed, how big they should be, how many, their location, and the style of the kitchen to maintain the flow. Take a survey of the kitchen and talk to your head chef to get a sense of what you will be looking for.
- Take measurements.
- Pay attention to where the outlets are
- The placement of the doors and windows.
- If you want the counter space against the wall or floating.
- Whether you'd need a grill table, work table, prep table, and/or equipment stands in the room.
The layout will also determine the communication of the kitchen, safety, and flow while working. Keep in mind these elements as they are vital to a well-functioning kitchen.
It is essential to know the space that you're working with, so don't rush it! Though it might be tedious, taking your time will help you in the long run and can make the difference between a functional and well-organized kitchen or an inefficient, unsafe, and bumbling workspace.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT TABLE
After understanding the space you’re working with, it’s time to select your table. The most efficient kitchens are careful about the size of the counter space since the whole idea is to promote a seamless flow.
It is necessary to know the company from which you are buying. Not all companies are created equal, and some have a better reputation than others.
- Read the reviews of the products.
- Speak to your chef and other professionals about the manufacturer's reputation.
When choosing a material, it must withstand the demands of the kitchen. Stainless steel consistently scores as the best option.
- Resistant to high temperatures and dents
- Holds up against corrosion and sanitary chemicals
- Low maintenance
- Easy to clean and sanitize
- Doesn’t absorb bacteria
However, not all stainless steel is created equal. Pay attention to attributes such as commercial-grade and NSF certified.
- Standard height is 34-1/4"
- Popular sizes range from 30" x 24" to 72" x 30"
The versatility and varying sizes lend itself to customization. Knowing the available space in your kitchen will help when selecting the optimal table size and quantity for your kitchen's needs.
A backsplash is a great option for tables that are placed flush against the wall. Backsplashes come in a range of heights. We found that a 1 ¼" backsplash is perfect for a commercial worktable.
- Prevents food from falling on the ground
- Makes cleaning easier
It is always a good idea to have shelving at your worktable. Shelves allow for storage, enabling the cook to move as little as possible. Shelves allow for increased productivity while being compact.
- UNDERSHELF - A convenient place to store small appliances/equipment or food storage. You can choose a wire undershelf as an economical shelving option.
- OVERSHELF - This is a good option when more storage space is required. The convenience of top shelves is to store larger appliances/equipment and food at the station.
- WALL MOUNTED - A great option when you have open wall space. They don’t block outlets and can hold a multitude of products to be kept at arm’s length.
Edge style is essential depending on how you are going to organize your workspace. The best is a combination of rounded and flat edges, utilizing their best qualities, making them convenient and versatile.
- The rounded front edge makes it easy to clean as well as providing safety from getting snagged on sharp corners and edges.
- Square side edge makes it convenient to place workstations next to each other.
It is crucial to consider whether the table is adjustable. Adjustability allows for customization and a convenient way to save money while maintaining integrity. Adjusting the height also promotes ergonomics and reduces fatigue.
- Allows for customization depending on need
- Reduces fatigue through ergonomics
TO CASTER OR NOT TO CASTER
Caster wheels are typically 4" and are a great addition to your worktable.
- Easy to move and clean the floors to maintain safety and sanitary codes.
- Adds height to your worktable
- Able to maneuver if the table is needed in another area
- Able to lock in place when mobility isn’t needed
With products that check off every box in our list, Gridmann Commercial Kitchen Equipment is great brand to outfit your kitchen. Gridmann is a reputable company that makes quality products. They have an array of durable, NSF certified, commercial grade 16-guage and 18-gauge #430 stainless steel tables and shelves at an affordable price. The good thing about Gridmann is that all their tables have adjustable height undershelves, and they have a wide variety of sizes available.