Whether you’re entirely new to the restaurant business or you’re a seasoned veteran opening your tenth restaurant, there are certain safety precautions and features to keep in mind as you set up a commercial kitchen. Following are a few ideas of what to keep in mind as you go about outfitting the hub of your new restaurant: the kitchen.
It’s crucial that any cabinets or shelves be firmly attached to the walls. A collapsing shelf can result in a whole lot of broken dishes—not to mention potential injury to anyone unlucky enough to have been standing beneath the offending structure. Double check the cabinets’ installation instructions and make sure you or your contractor follow them to the letter.
If your kitchen installation will include a gas stove—and most commercial kitchens do—it’s crucial to make sure the gas lines are hooked up properly. Gas is obviously a highly combustible substance that must be dealt with carefully, so make sure the installation—and any future service calls—are done by a qualified installer, service agency or by the gas company itself. This way, you can be sure that every part of the gas connection—from the unseen underground gas fittings to the stove itself—is hooked up properly and remains in good working order.
Automatic pilot lights
On a similar note, purchasing a gas stove with an automatic pilot light can go a long way toward fire safety in your restaurant’s kitchen. In such an appliance, the pilot light is ignited electronically, and an automatic shutoff valve prevents the main burner from working when the pilot light isn’t lit or is otherwise malfunctioning. Most newer stoves offer this feature, so keep an eye out for it when shopping for both used and new models.
Most commercial kitchens contain a walk-in freezer or combination refrigerator/freezer to store the large amounts of produce, dairy and other refrigerated foods necessary in a restaurant environment. When shopping for such an appliance, it’s imperative to look for one that has an inside door release to prevent employees from becoming trapped inside. If you’re buying a used model, test this feature multiple times before buying the unit to make sure it works properly.
Other bits and bobs
Besides the aforementioned items, there are other, smaller safety considerations that can make a significant impact on employee safety over time. Make sure all knives are kept sharpened; it might seem counterintuitive, but dull knives carry a far higher risk for cuts than sharp ones. Install an eyewash station and make sure employees know it’s there; this can be tremendously helpful in the event that an employee gets, say, ghost pepper juice in his eyes. And make sure the whole space is properly ventilated and meets all state and federal guidelines for safety and cleanliness.
Setting up commercial kitchen equipment requires planning and forethought, so be sure to make decisions carefully and always with an eye toward employee safety. Doing so will ensure better overall success. Good luck to you in the opening of your new restaurant!