The dominant geometric shapes in most food truck kitchens are typically four sided, from rectangular cabinetry to square appliances. But in all reality, the most important one is a triangle. The work triangle has always been an important element in any kitchen design and functionality, and this includes those inside of food trucks.
The kitchen Work Triangle tends to take into consideration the three areas in a kitchen that is the most necessary in the work process: the sink, the stove, and the refrigerator. To visualize the Work Triangle, a line is drawn from the center of the kitchen sink to the center of the stove top, continuing to the center of the refrigerator and traces back to the sink.
Designing a food truck’s kitchen can be a daunting process given the limited space. However, like in any kitchen, the work triangle remains a crucial element in kitchen design and functionality. This becomes a critical starting point for a café or restaurant interior designer when creating a concept for a food or beverage truck.
Just like with any “formula” in space planning, the objective is efficiency. All major work stations are expected to be near the cook without cramping up the space. Suggested guidelines for work triangle layout include:
- The sum of the Work Triangle’s sides is expected not be more than 26 feet or roughly 8 meters, while each side should be within 1.2 meters and 2.8 meters each.
- The sink should be placed in between the preparation area, the stove, or the refrigerator.
- The triangle is expected not to be intercepted by major traffic patterns such as entrances and exits.
Have it in mind that the idea of the work triangle in a food truck isn’t without its flaws though. It is believed that a kitchen will only have three major work stations and one person cooking. First of all, most food trucks feature more than three work spaces, so the regular work triangle isn’t always practical. And in many trucks, two or more people can share cooking duties.
Owing to these issues, don’t assume that you have to hold to these work triangle rules when it comes to laying out your food truck kitchen. Note that creating a triangle just for the sake of having one isn’t always the ideal thing to do when designing a food truck kitchen. If the size of your truck and the way you prepare your food doesn’t fit into a standard work triangle, you have to make do by creating the most functional food truck kitchen possible.
Although the above guidelines are for ideal food truck conditions, it is crucial to note that these guidelines assume that there is only one person cooking. There can be more than three work spaces depending on the food items sold, and a work triangle isn’t always applicable or practical. Consider the size and the preparation of your food and beverage whilst using the standard work triangle only as a point of reference.
A well-designed food truck is very crucial if you want your mobile kitchen to be efficient and safe. Extensive and careful planning in the design of the kitchen will save you money and time during the build-out phase and over time will increase the profitability of your truck. Nonetheless, here are basic factors to consider;
Factors to Consider When Planning a Food Truck Layout
Table of Content
What Will You Be Serving?
You have to first start with considering what you hope to put on your menu. Think through the entire process, from chopping, grinding, and cooking. Then make a list of all the tools you will use, be it tongs, spatula, bowls, measuring cups, etc. Then consider your storage options, this has to include where you will place your ingredients, tools, and equipment you will use when cooking.
If you intend to start small and later expand, think about this when doing your menu and storage plans and also designing your truck. This way, the expenses you will make when expanding your cuisine won’t include the storage space and equipment as you already have them.
On-site/Preparing at Home?
Depending on what’s on your menu, you may have the option of preparing your food elsewhere and just selling it on the truck. However, some cities have health laws that stand against food trucks preparing and storing food in the truck. If that’s the case in your city, you can use a commercial kitchen, and you won’t need a lot of equipment or preparing space in your food vehicle.
Also, note that you can prepare your meals at home if that’s your forte. This can save you from having to go to the commercial kitchen to prep your meals. However, if you decide to cook your meals on your truck, you need to ensure you have the proper appliances and storage capacity to do so and all these will factor in your truck’s design.
What Type of Atmosphere Does Your Concept Require?
Does your concept include being part of a stationary group of food carts (also known as cart pods as found in Portland, Oregon, or Ann Arbor, Michigan) or trailers (as in Austin, Texas), or do you need to be on the road, moving from location to location throughout the day? If you need to be more mobile, then you have to design your food truck to suit that need.
What Are The Local Commercial Truck Restrictions?
If you plan to design a food truck, then you need to know the vehicle restrictions for your area. Some cities have limits on the length of commercial trucks, so you have to consider the length of vehicles you use. How big are the parking spots you plan to sell from? Food trucks can vary in length from 10 to 26 feet long, and a 16-foot trailer being towed by a pickup truck can extend even longer.
If your menu requires that you need a flat-top grill, fryers, and other assorted kitchen equipment, you may want to design your food truck to make space for them and also balance out the weights.
How Many Sales a Day are you planning?
Also note that the more sales you intend to make on a daily basis, the more storage space you need. Smaller platforms, such as food carts, can sell as much as a food truck or trailer; however, you may need to make multiple trips to your kitchen to keep yourself stocked to meet your sales needs. But with this in mind, you can design your food truck to offer all the necessary incentives you need to make your business a success.
How Many Staff Members Will You Need to Operate?
If you note that you need more than two or three employees to operate your mobile business, you may not be interested in designing a truck with only 120 square feet of floor space. Food trucks and trailers have much more room for equipment, storage, and staff. The advantage of a smaller staff allows you to get a much smaller platform, which makes it easier to fit into tighter parking spaces and even save money on the fuel you need to keep it moving.
Food truck design is totally dependent on how you want customers to feel when they see your truck. After you have been around for a while, they will start to associate your colors and logo with the delicious food they crave. In most cases, your menu should determine the functionality of your food truck and your kitchen. Not the other way around.