Why modular designs are the future of commercial kitchens


If you need to replace or remove equipment in a commercial kitchen, it can be expensive! Mistakes happen: benches are too low, fridges are too small, islands are in the way. Thankfully, clever new kitchen designs have managed to avoid these hassles with a new type of fit-out: modular kitchens.

Modular kitchens are spaces that are designed using pre-manufactured ‘modules’ that fit together like a puzzle. They can work well if you have a new space that can be designed from scratch. Unlike bespoke or custom-made kitchens, these modules use generic measurements that allow for a variety of brands to utilise. Cost effective and able to be installed instantly, modular kitchens are the way to go for hospitality businesses big or small. Here’s why.

You can pivot your venue concept instantly

Michael Jones is the owner of Commercial Kitchen Design, and says that in a fast-moving industry, modular kitchen designs are a must-have.

“Why these designs are good for hospitality is because they are versatile and flexible,” says Jones. “What is an Italian restaurant today, could be a Thai restaurant tomorrow. Modular equipment lets you change quickly for what you need.”

Having the flexibility to change your cuisine or concept is crucial in the modern hospitality industry. It's likely that your business will be sold within the next five years, and who knows what the next owner will want to do with it. Trends move quickly these days, and being able to quickly incorporate a high-selling item is important. Bringing in a specific piece of equipment such as an extra fryer or flash freezer gives you the chance to experiment and develop your menu.

Repairs or replacements will be far cheaper

Decades ago, kitchens were installed on a permanent basis. Fridges and stoves were custom made, then set into cement with the view of keeping them there for twenty years or more. But as these kitchens have aged and needed repairs or replacement, it has become a hugely expensive exercise.

“In a modular kitchen, benches and appliances are separate,” says Jones. “You can pull an oven out easily and change over regardless of brand. It’s not stuck into the building, or fixed to the cabinetry.”

Jones says that high-use items such as deep fryers and combi-ovens are often the first to be worn down and needing replacement - so it’s important these can be removed and replaced quickly and safely.

It will increase the value of the property for sale

Being able to sell a commercial space that lends itself to a multitude of purposes is naturally going to make it easier to sell. Everyone comes in with a very different dream of what they are wanting to create, along with fairly specific design needs to make that happen.

Asian cuisine, for example, requires large boiling vats, wok stations, and plenty of deep-fry stations, whilst a dessert or pastry shop will need more refrigeration and prep space. Having a modular kitchen that can be moved around easily is a great sell point when it comes time to move on.

There is no barrier to growth

“Back in the day, twenty years or more, there just wasn’t the variety of ‘plug and play’ equipment that we have these days,” explains Jones. “We take it for granted now, but anything that you needed in the kitchen pretty much had to be built.”

Custom made or bespoke equipment was expensive then, and is expensive now. So whilst it acted as a barrier to growth or change for previous business owners - why would you willingly lose money? It doesn’t have to be that way today.

If you are looking to increase your venue capacity, your kitchen needs to keep up. With a modular design, you can completely change your current kitchen to suit any extensions or additional areas put on. Talk to your plumber, electrician, and equipment supplier - the extra cost of a 'custom' kitchen may be something you can avoid.

“I only custom build as required as a last resort,” says Jones. “Think of it this way - would you buy a custom built car, or a Toyota?”

The upkeep and cost to replace items in a custom built kitchen is very expensive: by going down a generic route, you will be able to sub in items quickly and cheaply.

Decades ago, Australia was relatively closed off from the rest of the world when it came to kitchen technology. We had to create equipment ourselves, and for that reason it became an expensive investment that you would keep for the life of your business.

In 2018, we are spoiled for choice when it comes to cheaper, instantaneous kitchen design. Opting for a modular setup means you’ll get the chance to experiment and grow as you wish, with none of the extra costs of reshaping your entire kitchen.

There’s nothing to hold you back from creating the hospitality business of your dreams!