Posted by Patrick Maness
What your kitchen can learn from food trucks
The food truck — this roadside eatery is the place you stop for a quick meal on the go. And while their focus is often on light, tasty fare, it is all prepared in a kitchen that’s the product of some serious design. Design, it turns out, is especially important to you as well, because if you’re in the restaurant industry and you’re already dealing with the challenges of a tiny kitchen, the potential to solve your spatial woes may just be sitting in the truck in front of you.
Here are five key takeaways every restaurateur can borrow from food truck design:
Think menu first. When designing a new concept, professionals in the mobile food industry first design their menu and then add the necessary tools and equipment to create and serve that menu. This optimizes efficiency by ensuring everything in the truck has a place and a role.
Prioritize stations. When customers arrive, a food truck’s kitchen and a restaurant’s kitchen can be very similar. Both become congested, busy places where working space is tight. Food trucks work to prevent accidents by creating workstations and allowing people to work in their own individual areas without cross-over.
Ergonomics is essential. Small work spaces make efficiency more important than ever. Food truck workers understand this and every aspect of their design is done to eliminate extra movement whenever possible, making the reaches easier and the walking distances shorter.
Make smart equipment installations. Closed-door ice bins prevent spillage and temperature imbalances in small spaces while electric appliances can be effective at reducing the overall heat in the work area. Food truck vendors understand that every piece of equipment in their space must be considered for its impact on all the rest of the equipment, and they’re always on the lookout for tools that do the job without hindering anything else.
Keep only what you absolutely must in your kitchen. Whether it’s prep that’s done before loading the truck or menus and signage that hang outside, items only remain in a food truck kitchen if they absolutely have to. This can be a good lesson for restaurants as well. Look at your menu and try to determine if there are any items, such as soups, that can be poured by the service staff in the service area. Can additional tasks or equipment be moved to the prep area or another location? The more work you can keep off your main cook’s line, the more space you’ll open up in your tiny kitchen.
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