Back to Blog
Brenda Rice

Running a Commercial Kitchen: A Checklist

Checklist to a Comprehensive Commercial Kitchen

What is the recipe for a comprehensive and high-performance commercial kitchen? All the right ingredients, of course! This starts with having the right equipment and continues through having the right processes and policies in place across everything from prep to cleanup. As anyone who’s ever worked in a commercial kitchen knows, organization is everything. While it might take some time to get organized, taking a proactive approach to doing so can facilitate a smooth and safe workflow. Meanwhile, leave an important element out or fail to account for a common problem, and your restaurant operations can come to a grinding halt. 

In today’s intensely competitive restaurant business, there’s little room for error. To that end, we’ve created this roundup of common commercial kitchen needs to help ensure that your restaurant has all the right “ingredients’ in place.

Commercial Kitchen Equipment

The average commercial kitchen is equipped with many types of professional equipment, such as ranges, ovens, steam tables, fryers, grills, kettle cookers, freezers and coolers. From commercial gas and electric ranges to countertop ranges, these units allow chefs to perform a variety of cooking tasks. 

Take commercial restaurant ranges, for example. Essential for many types of foodservice operations, such as cafeterias, restaurants, bistros and others, these units allow chefs to grill, sauté, boil, steam, bake and simmer foods. Because all restaurants aren’t created equal, neither are their range requirements. The type of range that will work best for your foodservice operation depends on many factors ranging from the size of your restaurant to the type of food you offer. For example, portable and drop-in ranges are ideal for buffet-style restaurants.

Another essential type of equipment for nearly all restaurant and industrial kitchens? Commercial refrigeration. This category of equipment includes reach-in freezers, refrigerators, ice machines, walk-in coolers and freezers, refrigerated displays, and all of the related accessories. As with ranges, your commercial kitchen’s unique needs and requirements will directly influence the type of refrigeration equipment you’ll need. For example, if your restaurant is small and your goal is to maximize square footage, under-counter freezers, under-counter refrigerators and worktop refrigeration can all be space-savers. 


Equipment and Dry Storage

Having the right commercial kitchen equipment is only one part of the puzzle. Also essential? Keeping everything organized. An organized kitchen means that there’s a designated place for everything. Your kitchen team should not be scrambling to find essential pieces of kitchen equipment or ingredients because of a poor commercial kitchen setup. The more accessible everything is, the smoother your operations will be. In addition to slowing down your kitchen operations, a poorly organized kitchen can also result in unhappy diners due to unnecessary delays.  

There are many different options when it comes to commercial kitchen storage. Kitchen shelves, racks and carts are all available in a breadth and depth of materials, sizes and styles. Many can also be modularly configured to further optimize space. Additionally, carts, trolleys and trucks, and other mobile storage units not only improves organization and storage, but also transporting food and equipment. 

In addition to storage for equipment and smallwares, you’ll also need dry storage for keeping food products neat, organized and easily accessible. Again, your needs and space dictate your ideal storage. Looking for storage for bulk food? A dry environment is essential, while the ability to customize with mounted shelves and posts expands your options. Additionally, open-wire shelving can be beneficial because it allows for both air flow and drainage so shelf items maintain their temperature while drying quickly. In addition to wall-mount shelving, other popular storage options for commercial kitchen equipment include pass-thru shelves, wall units and pot racks. And don’t forget about accessories designed to help you protect and organize your food, such as covers and labeling supplies. 

Other common storage for restaurants includes the use of wire wine racks to store wine at the proper angle to keep corks airtight and moist, as well as the use of security cages for storing valuables.

Restaurant Cleaning Supplies

While restaurant cleanliness has always been a topmost concern, it’s even more important in post-COVID times. In addition to being a matter of hygiene, a commitment to cleanliness can also promote customer peace of mind. Together, these work in partnership to create a clean, safe and hygienic environment for your employees and your diners.  Restaurants have an arsenal of cleaning supply options to choose from, including the following restaurant equipment list of cleaning supplies:


  • Sanitizers (a quaternary ammonium sanitizer is the most highly recommended type of sanitizer by the health department)
  • Degreasers 
  • Delimers
  • Bleach
  • Oven brushes
  • Griddle screen scour pads

Each of these cleaning materials serves a different purpose. For example, detergents prevent lime build-up and spotting while delimers remove calcium and lime buildup from ice machines.Bleach, meanwhile, is a multipurpose must-have that can be used on flatware, dishes and glassware for sanitizing in a three-compartment sink. Just be sure to read the kitchen equipment manufacturer’s instructions for the proper ratio of water to bleach. 

On that note, remember to always adhere to your manufacturer’s recommendations when cleaning your equipment in order to protect your investment as well as to maintain optimal performance. For example, our recommendations for griddle cleaning can be found here. 

Additionally, be sure to contact your health department to see if there are any special rules relating to commercial kitchen chemicals in your area.

One last note on maintaining a clean restaurant? All the cleaning supplies in the world won’t help you if your employees aren’t sticking to a thorough regular cleaning routine. Creating a schedule which clearly delineates which equipment should be cleaned, when, and by whom can help ensure that cleaning practices and protocols are followed. 

From buying the right professional cooking equipment and commercial refrigeration equipment to arranging for ample storage and stocking up on restaurant cleaning supplies, there are many elements involved in running a kitchen. Understanding these requirements upfront (and using a commercial kitchen checklist like this one) is critical to making sure you have everything you need to run the most efficient, productive, safe and harmonious kitchen. 


Related Posts

What Does it Mean to be a 2023 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year?

Vulcan has proudly been an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year for 16 consecutive years alongside our ITW Food Equipment Group sister companies. We’ve earned this by providing a range of ENERGY STAR® certified product series.
Read More

Consumer Preference Towards Fast Food Trend

The term “fast food” is usually associated with words like greasy, junk and unhealthy. From the rise of food delivery/expanded ordering to the demand for more plant-based and vegan menu options, the future of fast food is looking brighter than ever.
Read More

ENERGY STAR® Certified Commercial Food Service Equipment Buying Guide

Read More

Cut Cook Times in Half with the Vulcan Clamshell

Read More

Restaurant Menu Trends: Cold Weather Comfort Foods Your Customers Will Love

Read More

Commercial Gas Range Comparison

Read More

Choosing a Deep Fryer for Your Commercial Kitchen

There’s a reason why fried foods are beloved by diners: They taste delicious! Fried foods have practically become a staple in the world of commercial kitchens; but not all fryers are created equal.
Read More

Should You Buy New or Used Restaurant Equipment?

Read More

A Guide to Griddle Controls

From breakfast to dinner, late-night menus to snack items, commercial griddles are an essential part of a kitchen to keep every daypart running smoothly.
Read More

VC5 Ovens Q&A

Read More

The Guide to Purchasing a Restaurant Range

Read More

Small Restaurant Kitchen Solutions to Maximize your Space

Read More

VC5 Commercial Oven FAQ

Convection ovens are a go-to in many restaurant kitchens, and with good reason: They’re true workhorses. However, not all convection ovens are created equal.
Read More

PowerFry5™ FAQ

Read More

Why It Makes Sense to Spend More on Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Read More