The term “Kitchen” when applied to a PraiseBuilding means specifically a room used for the preparation and cooking of food. Don’t use this term if the only use will be to make coffee for an after-service fellowship.

The reason for this admonition is that a “kitchen” in buildings of assembly, come under the health and building requirements for restaurants. Thus, if the congregation plans on preparing chicken and fish-fry fund raising dinners or cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the elderly or homeless, the PraiseBuilding must be constructed to the standards of a commercial kitchen. A commercial kitchen differs from a residential kitchen in several ways.

First, local health department codes normally mandate the size of the kitchen. On average, expect to dedicate a space of at least 14’ x 20’ for the kitchen area. Much of the expense of a commercial kitchen is due to the requirement that it contain a fire suppression system over all grills, stoves, deep fryers and ovens. The purpose of a fire suppression system is to automatically suppress a quick spreading grease fire before it leaves the kitchen area.

It is not uncommon for a commercial kitchen to cost between $20,000 and $80,000 depending upon local requirements, size and equipment.If the budget is tight, consider purchasing used equipment at a local restaurant auction. Restaurants have one of the highest failure rates of any type of business so it is very possible that equipment can be purchased for pennies on the dollar and can be in excellent condition.The location of the kitchen is also important.

Normally, the building designer places the kitchen in a rear corner of the building for a number or reasons. Locating the kitchen in the corner of the structure allows for venting the exhaust fumes, which is required by building code, as well as allowing for the installation of a ventilation system to replace the air in the kitchen with fresh air.

Fire Code normally requires a commercial kitchen have an emergency exit directly to the outside. Since many pieces of very heavy equipment need to be brought into the kitchen, it is useful to have a door leading from the outside loading area directly to the kitchen. This loading door will prove invaluable the first time the kitchen crew needs to unload a truckload of frozen turkeys or ship out several hundred packaged dinners for the elderly.

When designing the kitchen, it is best to first do a space plan on paper showing a rectangular room with an opening to the fellowship hall and a second opening to the outside. Next, begin to lay-in the various sinks, stoves, deep fryers, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, steam tables, food preparation counters, etc. One will soon find all of these items require the kitchen to be a very large area. Most restaurant equipment supply houses can take crude drawings and put them onto a commercial kitchen Auto-Cad computer program to show in three dimensions, exactly what the kitchen will look like.

The purpose of this exercise is to see how the kitchen creates flow. The secret of commercial design is to allow the people preparing the food to have plenty of elbow-room while working. The refrigerators, freezers, work tops and food preparation sinks should be within a few paces of where each is standing. How does one achieve this?

Design the traffic area as a racetrack. Place cooking equipment together in a row against the rear wall with the exhaust and fire suppression system directly above. The sinks used for washing pots and dishes are placed along the left wall with storage cabinets directly overhead. According to health department regulations, a commercial kitchen must contain at least one stainless-steel sink with three compartments. Each division in the sink has a specific purpose – wash, rinse and sanitize.

Additionally, most health department regulations also require the kitchen have a single basin sink for washing hands. Neither of the sinks may be used for filling or disposing of water used in mopping floors. This activity requires a scrub sink, which is normally installed in a janitorial closet outside the kitchen area. The walls of a commercial kitchen must be covered in a washable material such as stainless steel sheathing, ceramic tile, plastic covered wall panels or other hard surface materials.

Whatever the surface selected, it should be washable and capable of withstanding the high temperatures generated by a commercial kitchen. Depending upon local building and health department regulations, the ceiling of your kitchen may be constructed from drywall with a scrabble painted surface or a drop ceiling with special hard surface tiles capable of withstanding moisture, scrubbing and high heat.

By Stephen Ferrandi, Director, KLNB Religious Properties

Stephen Ferrandi is the Director of KLNB Religious Properties, a real estate firm serving religious clients in Maryland, D.C., Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He is one of the top experts in land development in the region. Mr. Ferrandi frequently contributes real estate related articles to both print and online publications.