Optimizing Your Restaurant Kitchen Plan for Dine-In and Delivery

Explore the three most common restaurant kitchen floor plans, as well as steps to optimize your restaurant kitchen layout for delivery.

7 min read

Restaurant owners create restaurant kitchen plans to determine their kitchen layout, including where to place staff stations, equipment, and technology. Whether you're opening a brand new restaurant or renovating your current setup, your restaurant kitchen plan will have a significant impact on your operational efficiency and, ultimately, the guest experience. 

3 restaurant kitchen floor plans 

In this blog post, we'll explain three of the most common restaurant kitchen floor plans, as well as steps you can take to optimize your restaurant kitchen layout for delivery. 

1. Zone kitchen layout

Zone Kitchen Layout

This restaurant kitchen plan leverages different areas, or zones, for different tasks and functions. Each zone holds the relevant equipment and specialized staff, allowing for different types of dishes to be prepared at the same time.

For example, you can set up a prep zone featuring counter space for measuring ingredients, chopping vegetables, and dicing meats. A cooking zone will have the grill, fryer, ovens, and stovetops. Restaurants also have storage blocks for cold and dry items, as well as cleaning zones for dishwashing and sanitizing.

Best for: Restaurants with diverse menus and a larger staff that can divide and conquer. 

2. Assembly line kitchen layout

assembly line kitchen layout

The tried-and-true assembly line is great for restaurants that serve a high volume of people quickly — where efficiency and communication are crucial. Assembly line kitchens often have a limited menu or serve variations of the same type of food, such as sandwiches, build-your-own bowls, and burgers. In quick service restaurants, the cashier is often at the end of the assembly line.

Restaurant managers place the prep, cooking and service areas in a row to form the assembly line, with cleaning and storage areas in a separate row behind the line. Note that the assembly line doesn't necessarily have to be straight — it can be circular, on an island, or whatever best fits your space. 

Best for: Quick service and fast casual restaurants, where speed is critical and order volume is high. 

3. Island kitchen layout

island kitchen layout

This layout creates a central hub for the kitchen's cooking station. Restaurant owners place the majority of cooking equipment in the center of the kitchen while leveraging the perimeter for storage, service and cleaning. Some restaurants also put their prep station in the center island.

Because the island layout is very open, it facilitates communication between staff and allows executive chefs to supervise easily. 

Best for: Restaurants with square- or rectangular-shaped kitchens and ample floor space. 

Optimizing your restaurant kitchen floor plan for delivery

Restaurant owners will be successful if they adapt their restaurant kitchen plans and operations to capitalize on restaurant delivery and pickup.

While some businesses have opened delivery-only virtual kitchens, most restaurants have to figure out how to incorporate delivery flows into their existing locations. This poses a new challenge, as speed and efficiency, critical components in any commercial kitchen, become even more important in a delivery setting. 

There are three main stages of delivery: receiving orders, preparing dishes, and packaging orders for pickup. Restaurant owners can either merge these stages into their existing restaurant kitchen floor plan or create new space for delivery altogether. Depending on your staff, it might make sense to nominate one employee to serve as the delivery team leader to oversee the entire process. 

Here are some tips to optimize your restaurant kitchen plan for delivery throughout each of the three stages.

Receiving area

The decision that will have the biggest impact on your day-to-day delivery operations is your order protocol, or how you receive delivery orders. While every restaurant is unique and should choose the protocol that makes the most sense for their business, we highly recommend setting up a centralized, automated, online order management system. 

With DoorDash, restaurants can use a tablet and the Order Manager app to monitor incoming orders, make menu changes in real-time, and coordinate with Dashers. You can even integrate DoorDash with your POS system to send tickets directly to your kitchen to increase efficiency and minimize errors.

Another advantage of a centralized, online ordering system is that it gives you access to critical sales data, so you can get business insights on your profitability, understand which menu items are most popular, and predict and prepare for order spikes.

If you use an online system to receive orders, make sure the receiving area has a strong wifi connection or cell service. 

Prep and cooking areas

Restaurant owners should partner with their chefs to determine the best way to incorporate delivery orders into the prep and cooking flows. 

  • Full service restaurants typically incorporate delivery orders into the same flow as dine-in customers.

  • Fast casual restaurants often add a second assembly line dedicated to delivery orders, especially during peak hours. This helps ensure efficiency and speed while minimizing disruption to dine-in customers. 

Pickup area

Restaurants can take a number of steps to optimize the pickup area for their delivery orders:

  • Designate a clearly marked pickup area so delivery drivers know where to go and can quickly grab their orders without waiting in line or disrupting dine-in operations. 

  • Install temperature-controlled storage lockers to keep your salads cool and pizza hot. 

  • Organize the pickup area and train staff to arrange delivery orders by customer name, pickup time, or order number. 

  • Stock your pickup area with necessary items, such as to-go packaging, condiments, utensils, and napkins that can be easily added to the order at the end of the process.

With these tips, you'll be able to determine the right restaurant kitchen plan and optimize your business for the growing trend of delivery. Get started with DoorDash today.


Sara DeForest

Sara DeForest


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