The foodservice industry went through a slump when it came to the business in 2020 due to COVID-19. During these uncertain times restaurants, hotels, and commercial kitchens were faced with challenges presented by the pandemic. These commercial businesses managed to survive only by facing these challenges head-on. This was possible due to quickly adapting to the changes and modifying their old systems of work when it came to commercial kitchen design and planning.  

However, things started to turn around in 2021. The fall in the number of cases, and a vaccine being developed by countries all around the world to immunize their citizens has led to a positive sign for these businesses to be back on track. 

Here are some key trends on the state of commercial kitchen design in 2021: 

1) Focus on food safety 

Food safety is a serious issue even post COVID-19. Now, commercial kitchens in the foodservice industry need to be more cautious than ever before when it comes to storing, processing, and distributing food in the commercial kitchen space. All these steps are mandatory to avoid cross-contamination and limit the transfer of bacterias and viruses into the food. 

The usage of Tamper Evident Containers and Stickers on food packaging, while preparing the food to be dispatched from the commercial kitchen, helps to ensure the customer’s food isn’t exposed or contaminated and makes it clear when the packaging of their food has been opened.


2) Maintaining hygiene in the commercial kitchen area and around the restaurant

Personal hygiene of the staff such as: 

  1. i) Wearing masks and gloves while handling the food 
  2. ii) Timely temperature checks before entering the kitchen space. 

iii) Timely sanitization of the hands while handling food material without safety gloves.

  1. iv) Using disinfectants to clean the kitchen counters.
  2. v) Maintaining the overall hygiene of the kitchen multiple times a day. 
  3. vi) Installing Hand-Sanitiser Kiosks in restaurants and commercial kitchens. 

vii) Using facial shields and cash counter shields. 

3) Virtual Masterclass on signature dishes 

During the lockdown restaurants and commissaries came up with the concept of doing virtual masterclasses of their signature dishes so that their customers could enjoy them at the comfort of their homes. This trend has caught on and continues to exist as many restaurants, bakeries, etc continue to host these masterclasses on social media platforms to develop a strong customer base. 

4) DIY Food Kits 

Restaurants, hotels, businesses with commercial kitchens rushed towards innovating ideas to drive sales in their businesses. One such idea was of DIY Food Kits. These are custom meal kits that are made up of pre-measured components to make a restaurant’s dish at home, without the fear of unsafe food handling of the final product. 

For Example, some pizzerias provided unbaked dough balls, sauce, cheese, and other toppings, while some Pan Asian restaurants provided broth, noodles, proteins, vegetables, and garnishes, in their DIY kits for their customers to prepare their desired dish at home. 

The whole idea for commercial kitchen set-ups to adopt this model was to provide customers with their favorite dishes with a hassle-free cooking experience.

5) New-age cloud kitchens (also known as ‘ghost kitchens’)

The new normal in the foodservice industry is take-out and delivery heavy. Many commercial kitchen business owners are turning towards a ‘ghost kitchen model’ also known as virtual kitchens/dark kitchens/cloud kitchens. This food business model food business is a ‘delivery only’ model, where orders for food are accepted and prepared at a rented commercial kitchen set-up, picked up by a delivery agent, and enjoyed at the home of the customer. 

Ghost Kitchen Models are ideal for small restaurant owners and food entrepreneurs as start-up costs are low as compared to running a full-fledged restaurant. The major advantage of running a cloud kitchen is that the money goes towards investing in high-quality ingredients and top-of-the-line kitchen equipment, rather than on investing in furniture, property rent, and electricity. 

6) Live cooking in Open Kitchens 

During the pre-pandemic times open kitchens with live kitchens added to the design and aesthetic appeal of the restaurant, now post COVID-19 it instills a sense of trust for consumers. 

Foods that are quick to assemble, easy to toss, and pleasant to see will take precedence over those that require lengthy preparation times. The bottom line here is that consumers want to see how the food that they are eating has been prepared, while also enjoying the process simultaneously. 

7) Walk-Up Pick Up Windows & Drive-Thrus 

Pick-up windows for customers to walk up and pick up their food order while maintaining social distancing has become an important aspect of commercial kitchen design in restaurants. 

2021 is expected to bring greater innovations in drive-thru design than ever before. Instead of using a singular drive-thru lane, more locations will be implementing multiple lanes with digital menu boards. Some menu boards are being programmed for contactless payment as well. After payment is made, cars are directed to numbered parking spots to await the delivery of their food out of the line. These waiting areas help reduce congestion during rushes.

8) No Contact Delivery 

With an increased demand for food to be delivered directly to customer’s homes, it’s important to find a suitable alternative for delivery. ‘No contact delivery’ limits restrictions between people. Through the use of contactless cooking, tamper-evident packaging, touchless payment, and designated delivery spots, no contact delivery establishes a safe and sanitary method of getting food to customers.

9) Meal Subscription Plans 

Taking inspiration from services like Netflix and Spotify and applying it in the form of meal subscription plans, where a monthly fee is charged in exchange for a service. These services allow customers to create a weekly or monthly meal plan based on their preferences. Once they’ve chosen what they want to eat, the ingredients are shipped to their door and they can begin to cook. 

10) Eating inside Pods 

Restaurants around the world have installed dome-like structures for their consumers to enjoy outdoor dining as well as maintain social distancing. These dome-like structures are also known as ‘dining pods’. They are made up of plastic or acrylics and have gained popularity due to their design and unique dining experience. 

11) QR Code Menus 

Technology played a major role in the commercial kitchen design space. When it came to indoor dining, to avoid cross-contamination from physical menus, QR code menus came to salvage the situation. 

QR codes are a type of barcode that holds information that can be accessed through a smartphone’s camera or an app. In this manner, all customers have to scan the barcode and have safe access to the restaurant’s menu. An intelligent design indeed. 

Food businesses require consultants to make them future-ready. The best consultants to guide food businesses during these unprecedented times belong to a pioneer foodservice consultancy known as HPG Consulting. 

Consultants at HPG have helped big names in the foodservice industry such as Taj & Carlson, Mainland China, IIMs, on landmark commercial kitchen design projects. The HPG Team believes in providing result-oriented, customized kitchen solutions that are future-forward thanks to the knowledge of industry and technology trends. 

Get in touch with HPG Consultants today and expand your knowledge of how commercial kitchen design will look like in 2021.