If you’ve been through a kitchen renovation in your career, you know that without proper planning – there will be a lot of pain!
And yet, much of that pain is avoidable if you take the time before the project starts to do some simple and relatively easy preparation. Here are three things that we advise all clients do if they see a renovation in their future:
#1 Equipment Inventory
One of the first tasks you should do is to compile an inventory of all the kitchen equipment. A worksheet should list the manufacturer, model number, options, utilities, date of purchase and estimated life span of the equipment. Warranty information and any maintenance agreements should also be included. Without this information equipment replacement becomes a year to year program rather than a well thought out program. Getting through a future large renovation budget or RFQ requires an understanding of the current state of operations.
#2 Does this kitchen work …..?
This can be as simple as does this piece of equipment still meet our needs. Replacing a piece of equipment with the same piece of equipment is easy but take a moment to answer why exactly are we doing that. More specifically, evaluate the equipment. What exactly did you like or dislike about the equipment. Then ask these questions:
- Has the menu changed? Or will the menu be changing
- Has technology changed?
- Has the population changed? Or will the population be changing
- How often is the equipment used?
- Is the kitchen equipped to handle special diets?
This will help you assess whether replacement of the existing piece is the right choice or do you need to open up your consideration to different options.
A more complex situation to evaluate is to determine if the flow of the kitchen works. Some facilities were originally created to accommodate bulk feeding; however, over the course of time may have moved to tray delivery. In instances like this, you may find your kitchen has a tray assembly line that is placed where there was room rather than where it would best fit the workflow of the kitchen. Your dish room may not be the ideal set up for insulated trays and other issues too. Operations evolve over time, so a renovation is the perfect opportunity to build for what you are doing now rather than what you were originally set up to do.
#3 Future goals or shifts dietary requirements:
Now that you’ve reviewed the work flow of your kitchen today as it compares to what the kitchen was originally built for, you need to look into the future and ask yourself the same questions.
- Are there any plans for expansion, renovation or any other construction?
- Major repairs on the floor are inevitable, will those affect the kitchen area or will they be an opportunity for you to make needed structural changes?
- What is the expected population over the course of the next five years?
You also want to consider potential menu changes or other production related changes:
- Will you be accommodating more / less special diets? do you have sufficient area and tools to do this?
- Will you be making a shift to cook/chill from cook/serve or vice versa?
- What about off-site provisions? Will you be preparing food to be transported to other facilities or for use in community programs like a meals on wheels operation?
After you review these questions – you need to consider if your design can accommodate your needs in the future as well as today, and bring that perspective into your design planning.
Being prepared before you start the planning with a good view of your operation now and in the future will make a world of difference in your outcome. If you’re going to go through the disruption of a kitchen renovation, you want to be happy with the final result! At Cook’s Correctional, we have worked with clients across the country on projects and we’ve found that the more work that’s done on the front end, the better the outcome.