For large group feeding facilities (cafeterias, hospitals, prisons), the support area takes on a complexity rarely seen within a table service or fast food restaurant. An institutional kitchen may require up to 2,000 to 3,000 square feet of support area, because this is where utility lines are set up in a multitude of combinations:
1. Straight service line
2. Shopping center system
3. Coding system (or free flow)
The straight line is exactly what its name implies. In terms of speeding customers through the food line, it’s the slowest-moving arrangement, because most of the guests are reluctant to pass in front of the slower ones. However, single or double straight lines are still the most common style in commercial coffee shops, because they take up the least space, and also the average guest is comfortable with the layout.
Since customers must analyze all food options, they are also more likely to create an impulse purchase.
The shopping center (also called a bypass line) is actually a variation of the straight line. Instead of being perfectly straight, sections of the line are indented, separating salads from hot foods, etc. This makes it easier for guests to bypass a section. On service lines where individual order burgers, tortillas or sandwiches are made, the bypass arrangement keeps things moving.
The free-flow or scramble system is designed so that each guest can go directly to the areas that interest them. (From time to time, you will hear that it is known as a hollow square program.) Food stations can be arranged in a giant U shape, a square with islands in the middle, or just about any shape the size of the room is. permitted. This design can be attractive, but it is often confusing for first-time customers. You are more likely to discover this design in an industrial cafeteria, where employees eat every day and will soon become familiar with it.
Scramble systems offer fast service and minimal wait. They also allow for some types of display cooking, including items that are grilled, stir-fried, or sliced upon request. Airline foodservice kitchens appear to have the largest and most complex support areas. Several dozen workers line a program of conveyors, assembling food trays for up to 70,000 passengers a day. To produce this type of quantity, the prepared food is stored in hot carts, and much of the preparation is done ahead of time so that the assembly process is quick.