It may look like a restaurant, but church kitchens have lots of special details that make them very different. With everything you need for a good church kitchen, these detals are easy to overlook. Use this link to download our overview of church kitchen design.
Church Kitchen Tour
Church kitchens really are unique. We recently conducted a tour with building committee members in the early stages of planning their new project. We visited several of our recently completed church kitchens, and it was interesting to see how the committee members responded. I was pleased to hear they liked all the kitchens a great deal. However, their conversations alerted me to several unlikely church kitchen details that might be easy to overlook.
One unlikely piece of equipment got the most positive response - the members really liked seeing a washer and dryer in the kitchen! It's not every church kitchen that needs to handle laundry, but many volunteers tell us how difficult it is when they have to launder table cloths, napkins and towels at home.
This visiting committee added a new reason for having laundry facilities in their project. Their current hall had just been used as an emergency shelter for families displaced by a massive fire. They gave the families food, personal items and beds, but they had no place for washing clothes.
"Oh look! A stool!" We rounded one of the counters and saw a tall stool tucked under the end. One of the visitors got pretty excited. "I could pull up stools like this and have a meeting in here." His comments made sense to me. We all get older, and it sure can be useful to have a place to sit.
For this particular design, we only provided for one stool. In most commercial kitchens, people don't sit down. But church kitchens have to be flexible. In this kitchen, when someone is chopping or packaging, they can pull up the stool and complete the task while sitting down.
That's not the only was to have seating in a kitchen. We designed another kitchen to double as a meeting room. In that kitchen, we opened up the space under a counter to fit a collection of stools. Based on the committee's comments, we'll consider expanded seating in the new kitchen.
Coffee pots, coffee pots, coffee pots. The committee members were delighted to see them in so many places. We saw many variations for handling coffee service. In several churches, we've designed a Starbucks-like coffee bar with high-end brewing equipment and comfortable seating.
At Emmaus Catholic Church, the coffee counter is placed right outside of the kitchen. The idea was to have limited service at some events so the kitchen could remain closed. At other times, the coffee counter would serve for all drinks and beverages, separate from the areas needed for food service.
Our advice, no matter the location, is to plan carefully for coffee pots. How the service works is important, but it's not the only consideration. Large coffee urns can require a lot of energy. If you don't provide them with a dedicated circuit, you could have lots of problems with blown fuses.
OK, not all the rules were clearly marked or explained as we toured these kitchens. But the committee members were already talking about them and we encourage these conversations in the early planning stages.
What sparked the discussion of the rules was a little sign posted at one of the doors banned anyone under 16-years old from the kitchen. This may seem harsh, but made perfect sense when you walked in. This was the one kitchen that most closely resembled a commercial establishment. This place, with all its equipment and activities, was no place for kids.
Visit our Church Kitchen Resource Page for a number of ideas and links to our portfolio of fellowship halls and recent blog posts. Or download our overview of how to design a church kitchen by using the link below: