Establishing a Canteen, Part 1: The Spatial Prerequisites

Employee benefits are playing an increasingly important role. As a result, many companies decide to offer staff catering, initially thinking of a canteen or cafeteria. But which spatial conditions must be fulfilled? What guidelines are to be followed? We have put together the most essential information for you.

Not every free space is suitable for a canteen. First of all, it must be big enough. The required size depends, among other things, on the expected number of guests. In addition, you should consider all areas that belong to a commercial kitchen operation. They can be roughly divided into three categories.



1. The public area

This space is shared by employees and guests, as it is where the food is served and enjoyed.

The service area

Here, the guests usually receive the food at a long counter, which should provide enough space for hot and cold food, drinks, dishes and trays, possibly a salad bar and of course a cash register.

The dining area

This space should provide enough room for all visitors, so it’s important to calculate wisely. With an attractive offer in an unrivaled situation, it is to be expected that 50 - 70% of the workforce will use the canteen - and in some cases, external guests may come as well.

The space should not only be bright, friendly and inviting, but also provide at least 1.25 m² of space per guest.



2. The kitchen area

This is where the staff works mostly. In addition to space for the equipment, you need to consider room to move for every employee, which should be 1.5 m² (at least 1 m wide) per person. Every staff member requires an airspace of at least 15 m³.

The preparation area

Here the food is prepared. There should be sufficient work surfaces and sinks with hot and cold water available.

The cooking area

This is where the food is cooked. All large thermal devices need to fit in and be easily accessible for the employees.

The chilling area

Ideally, this is located directly in or by the kitchen, so that the cold chain is never interrupted.

The cleaning area

Often underestimated, an industrial dishwasher will in most cases occupy 50-70% of the kitchen area!

Waste disposal

There are several rules for waste management in large companies. When planning the space it should be taken into account that every guest generates about 0.8 liters of waste - so this will have to be stored temporarily.


3. The staff area

This includes the changing rooms and toilets for the staff, ideally equipped with showers.


If it is possible to find an area in the building into which all of this can be integrated, you still have to determine whether it also fulfills all other requirements. The list of these is long, and in the following only the most important points are put together.


First of all, the law stipulates that the ceiling height in large catering establishments must be at least three meters. It should also be borne in mind that a smooth workflow must be possible. So there has to be a sufficient energy supply (with electrical energy, gas or steam) that can withstand all thermal equipment.

The cafeteria should be easily accessible from the storage rooms. A location on the same floor shortens the transport routes, but is not absolutely necessary, as the food preparation is planned only once a day. Many companies therefore decide to set up the storage rooms in the basement. Corridors and elevators should always be wide enough for transporting pallets. The storage should ideally be close to the goods delivery area.



Finally, large kitchens are often an odor nuisance. Fish, frying oil and the likes often cause persistent smells, especially near the air conditioning systems. As these facilities are mandatory, they should hence be placed wisely.

If these basic requirements are met, it is necessary to comply with other legal requirements that you can learn more about in Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog post series. If all these criteria seem like too much to tackle, we recommend that you make your life a lot easier - with a smart alternative. Smunch is the virtual canteen that offers variety, freshness and quality while saving space, cost and time. What more do you want?

Whatever you do, enjoy your lunch break!

The Smunch Team


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