Dining Hall Design And Kitchen Layout

No other building or facility occupies campers’ time like the dining hall. Campers and alumni remember, rather revere, the wonderful experiences they had in their camp dining hall: the songs they sang, the friends they met, and, hopefully, the wonderful meals they ate.

Take into consideration all uses when designing a camp dining hall. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / JanMika

While the computer-aided design (CAD) system, drawing board, and T-square are the tools of design, the dining hall is an expression of the camp ownership or management.

This individual, or group of individuals, must communicate the purpose and function of the hall, the clientele it serves, the cost versus value ratio, and the long-term use of the facility.

It is always good to remember that most architects are not large-volume food professionals.  Therefore, a few suggestions may aid in the decision to design, build, or remodel a dining facility with a personal touch and expression in mind.

First and foremost, know the purpose or goal in making such a large capital investment. Perhaps there is a need to increase camper participation by attracting a larger or new population base. A dining facility may be the key to increasing revenue.

A break-even analysis should be performed, a new budget drafted, and long-term projections calculated.

▪ Base the size of the facility on the maximum number to be served, with consideration for expansion and potential special needs of campers.

▪ Decide whether this facility should be a multipurpose building or simply a dining hall. Then decide the type of food and service to offer, such as family or buffet-style dining.

▪ Next, plan a typical menu and the kitchen it will serve, based on the expected number of participants, giving consideration for all age groups. For example, many youth camps have eliminated deep fryers, but when designing a kitchen, provide a space for a fryer and the necessary exhaust system to support the equipment. It is very expensive to modify these systems at a later date.

The kitchen design should involve the opinions of food-service management. The dining hall and kitchen design should be planned to maximize labor efficiency, safety, and productivity. This includes the best kitchen equipment with the highest efficiency rating.

Larger is not always better. Many kitchen designers include a 60-quart mixer when a 40-quart unit is more productive for the menu. The menu directs the equipment, and the equipment directs the design of the facility.

In camp dining, it is often said the two favorite items on the menu are breads and desserts. Therefore, the design should plan for a separate baking area in the kitchen with special equipment, like a proofing cabinet for homemade breads, and convection ovens that permit the convection fans to be turned off while baking continues.

Kitchen equipment normally has a long life span if it is well-maintained, but labor costs continue to rise. The design should minimize the labor with multifunctional equipment and a well-trained staff experienced in high-efficiency equipment.

Kitchen staff can offer expert design advice. © Can Stock Photo Inc. / yekophotostudio

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