For large-group feeding facilities-cafeterias, hospitals, prisons-the support area takes on a complexity rarely seen inside a table service or fast-food eatery. An institutional kitchen may require as a lot as 2000 to 3000 square feet of support region, because this is where serving lines are set up in a multitude of combinations:
1. Straight serving line
2. Buying center system
3. Scramble (or free-flow) system
The straight line is exactly what its name implies. In terms of speeding clients through the food line, it's the slowest-moving arrangement, because most guests are reluctant to pass slower ones in front of them. Nevertheless, single or double straight lines are still the most common style in commercial cafeterias, because they take up the least space and also the average guest is comfortable with the arrangement.
Since clients should walk by all the foods choices, they're also more most likely to create an impulse buy.
The buying center (also called a bypass line) is really a variation of the straight line. Instead of being perfectly straight, sections from the line are indented, separating salads from hot foods and so on. This makes it easier for guests to bypass one section. In serving lines where burgers, omelets, or sandwiches are prepared to individual order, the bypass arrangement keeps things moving.
The free-flow or scramble system is designed so that every guest can go directly to the areas he or she is interested in. (Once in a while, you'll hear it referred to as a hollow square program.) Food stations may be laid out in a giant U-shape, a square with islands within the middle, or just about any shape the room size will permit. This design can be attractive but is frequently confusing for first time customers. You're most most likely to discover this layout in an industrial cafeteria, where employees eat each day and soon become familiar with it.
Scramble systems offer fast service and minimal waiting. They also allow for some kinds of exhibition cooking, including items grilled, stir-fried, or sliced to order. Airline food service kitchens seem to have the largest and most complex support areas. A number of dozen workers line a program of conveyor belts, assembling meal trays for as numerous as 70,000 passengers a day. To produce this kind of quantity, the prepared food is held in hot carts, and much from the preparation is done ahead of time to make the assembly process go quickly.