Healthcare and Hospital Cafeteria Design Consultants


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Balancing Regulations, Labor, and Costs

Hospital kitchens and cafeterias represent some of the most demanding commercial cooking and dining spaces. Not only do they need to meet the needs of patients with restricted diets, but they must also be capable of efficiently providing a variety of menu items for staff and visitors. Hospital kitchens must also be capable of complying with strict hygienic standards.

Rapids Contract has addressed these demands and more in designing and installing hospital kitchens and cafeterias. While designing spaces, we balance regulations, labor and costs with the need for smooth workflow and service patterns. And, with our decades of experience and dedication to communication, we have forged relationships with contractors and fabricators to provide efficient installation and to elevate any kitchen or cafeteria into an attractive custom design.

hospital kitchen

Flexible, Labor-Saving Healthcare Kitchen Designs

Commercial healthcare dining has evolved to place an emphasis on labor-saving flexibility in the kitchen, ordering, and service areas. Rapids Contract’s designers know how to incorporate practical, functional time- and energy-savers into versatile spaces suited for room service orders, grab-and-go service, and dine-in visitors and staff.

Our CADD technology enables you to view your kitchen design in three dimensions well before the build begins. Our LEED-certified designer selects the best available on-demand technology that meets code and saves on costs. This includes eco scrappers, a green replacement for the commercial disposal, and other state-of-the-art appliances and lighting.

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Experience With All Types of Facilites

Streamlined Dine-In, Room Service, and Pick Up

For today’s hospital patients and cafeteria visitors, flexibility and flow are key to fast, convenient service. Let us show you how to streamline remote ordering for hospital room service and make it easy for visitors to find and purchase a variety of hot and cold foods. In addition, we can help you select energy-efficient equipment for display and contactless pickup save money over the long run and reduce the pressure on kitchen staff.

Project Management and Communication

One of the most important considerations in selecting a hospital kitchen design firm is how they will manage your project. At Rapids Contract, our project manager will be with you throughout the entire process. He or she will be on site during construction to coordinate with the trades, from fabricators to installers, and architects to general contractors. We take relationships with you and these key partners seriously, guiding the buildout for your hospital kitchen and cafeteria to align with your specifications, timeline, and budget.

FAQs for Healthcare Cafeterias

How long does it take to install a healthcare kitchen?

The time it takes to install a healthcare cafeteria can vary widely based on several factors, including the size of the kitchen, the complexity of the design, the type of equipment being installed, local regulations and permits, the availability of contractors and skilled labor, and the efficiency of the installation process.

In general, smaller and less complex kitchens in an existing foodservice space might take a few weeks to a couple of months to install, while larger and more intricate kitchens could take several months. Here are some key factors that can influence the installation timeline:

1. Design and Planning: The design phase can significantly impact the installation time. If the kitchen’s layout and design are well-prepared in advance, it can help streamline the installation process.

2. Equipment Selection and Availability: The type of equipment needed for the kitchen can affect the timeline. If specialized or custom equipment is required, it might take longer to source and install.

3. Permits and Regulations: Obtaining necessary permits and complying with local regulations can sometimes be a time-consuming process that impacts the installation timeline.

4. Construction and Infrastructure: If any modifications or construction work is required to accommodate the kitchen, such as plumbing, electrical, or ventilation systems, this can add to the installation time.

5. Skilled Labor and Contractors: Availability of skilled contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other professionals can influence how quickly the installation can be completed.

6. Project Management: Efficient project management can help keep the installation on track and avoid delays.

7. Unforeseen Issues: Unexpected challenges or issues that arise during installation, such as equipment malfunctions or structural problems, can extend the timeline.

8. Size and Complexity: Larger kitchens with more intricate setups, multiple workstations, and specialized equipment can naturally take longer to install.

9. Coordination and Scheduling: Coordinating the various tasks involved in the installation, such as equipment delivery, construction work, and inspections, requires careful scheduling.

It’s recommended to work closely with a firm like Rapids who has solutions engineers, designers, project managers, project coordinators, and support teams experienced in commercial kitchen installations. we can provide a more accurate estimate based on the specific details of your project and help manage the process to ensure it’s completed as efficiently as possible.

How much does a healthcare kitchen cost?

The cost of setting up a healthcare cafeteria can vary widely depending on several factors, including the size of the kitchen, the type of cuisine you’ll be preparing, the quality of equipment and materials you choose, location, and local regulations. Here are some of the major cost considerations:

1. Location: The cost of commercial real estate can vary greatly based on the region, city, and neighborhood where you plan to set up your kitchen.

2. Size and Layout: The overall square footage and layout of the kitchen will impact costs. A larger kitchen will require more equipment, materials, and space planning.

3. Equipment: The cost of commercial kitchen equipment varies based on the type and brand. High-quality, specialized equipment can be more expensive. Equipment includes ovens, stoves, refrigerators, freezers, fryers, grills, ventilation systems, dishwashers, and more.

4. Ventilation and Exhaust Systems: Proper ventilation and exhaust systems are crucial for a commercial kitchen to ensure air quality and safety. These systems can be a significant cost factor.

5. Utilities and Infrastructure: Costs associated with plumbing, electrical work, and gas lines installation or modifications need to be considered.

6. Construction and Renovation: If you’re building or renovating a space to accommodate the kitchen, construction costs can vary based on the extent of the work required.

7. Permits and Regulatory Compliance: Obtaining permits and complying with health and safety regulations may incur fees.

8. Interior Design and Finishes: The quality of finishes, such as flooring, countertops, and wall coverings, can impact costs.

9. Furniture and Fixtures: If you’re setting up a restaurant or eatery within the kitchen space, the cost of furniture and fixtures for the dining area should also be considered.

10. Labor Costs: Labor costs include not only the salaries of kitchen staff but also costs for installation, construction, and any specialized services needed.

11. Contingency: It’s wise to budget for unexpected costs that may arise during the setup process.

Due to the many variables involved, it’s challenging to provide an exact figure. However, to give you a rough idea, setting up a basic small-scale commercial kitchen could start around $50,000 to $100,000. Larger, more complex kitchens with high-end equipment and finishes could cost several hundred thousand dollars or even more.

To get a more accurate estimate for your specific situation, it’s recommended to consult with our commercial kitchen design and construction professionals. We can assess your needs, provide cost breakdowns, and help you plan a budget that aligns with your goals.

What layout options are available when designing a healthcare kitchen?

When designing a healthcare cafeteria, the layout should prioritize efficiency, speed, and safety. There are several layout options to consider, each with its own advantages depending on the size of the space, the menu, and the workflow. Here are some common layout options:

1. Assembly Line or Linear Layout:
This layout resembles an assembly line, with different stations for each step of the food preparation process. It’s ideal for fast food chains with a limited menu of items that can be prepared quickly. The workflow progresses in a linear fashion, from order taking to food assembly.

2. U-Shaped Layout:
A U-shaped layout places the cooking equipment and prep stations along the three sides of a U shape, with the middle left open for movement. This allows cooks to access equipment and ingredients without having to cross paths frequently.

3. L-Shaped Layout:
In an L-shaped layout, the kitchen equipment and workstations are arranged along two adjacent walls in an L configuration. This can be effective for smaller spaces and helps streamline the workflow between cooking and preparation areas.

4. Island Layout:
An island layout positions equipment and stations in the center of the kitchen, allowing cooks to access equipment from all sides. It’s suitable for larger kitchens with ample space and can provide a more flexible workflow.

5. Zoned Layout:
This layout divides the kitchen into distinct zones, each dedicated to a specific task such as cooking, preparation, dishwashing, and storage. It’s efficient for larger kitchens and helps prevent congestion by keeping different tasks separate.

6. Open Kitchen Layout:
An open kitchen layout allows customers to see the food preparation process, which can add transparency and a sense of freshness. This layout requires careful organization to maintain a clean and presentable appearance.

7. Parallel Layout:
In a parallel layout, equipment and stations are placed along two parallel lines. This is useful for kitchens with a linear workflow, where tasks progress from one end to the other.

8. Zone and Flow Layout:
This layout combines zoned areas with a logical flow of food preparation. It ensures that tasks progress smoothly and avoids unnecessary backtracking.

9. Hybrid Layout:
Depending on the specific needs of your restaurant, a combination of different layouts can be used to optimize space and workflow. For example, a U-shaped layout for cooking and an assembly line for order preparation.

Remember that the layout should be tailored to your restaurant’s unique requirements, menu items, and anticipated customer flow. It’s important to consider factors like the placement of cooking equipment, prep stations, serving areas, and storage to create a seamless and efficient kitchen environment. Consulting with Rapids’ professional kitchen designers and solutions engineers can help you make informed decisions and create a layout that maximizes productivity and safety.

Where do you get your supplies from?

You can obtain foodservice equipment and supplies from various sources, both online and offline. Here are some common options:

Online Retailers: There are numerous online retailers that specialize in selling foodservice equipment and supplies but clearly Rapids Wholesale’s Webstore is the best in the business! In fact, over 75% of the K-12 school systems in our home state utilize our website for ordering equipment and smallwares. We work neighboring state school buying groups and independent schools as well! Our team can prepare a “market basket” of items your school uses most and provide negotiated discount pricing on those items! Reach out to find out more!

Restaurant Supply Stores: These are specialized stores that offer a wide range of commercial kitchen equipment and supplies. You can find everything from cooking appliances to utensils, furniture, and cleaning supplies. Rapids currently has Restaurant Supply Store locations in St. Paul, MN and Marion, IA.

Wholesale Distributors: Some distributors cater specifically to businesses in the food industry. They often offer bulk purchasing options and may have discounts for larger orders. Rapids Account Management Team is standing by to assist.

When sourcing foodservice equipment and supplies, consider factors like price, quality, warranty, and customer reviews. Compare options from different sources to make informed decisions that align with your budget and needs. Additionally, be aware of any local regulations or codes that might affect the type of equipment you can use in your commercial kitchen.

hospital kitchen design

Previous Work – University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital

When the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital envisioned their cafe, they saw a welcoming environment that was not only easily able to handle the flow of patients and their families, but could also offer a number of meal options.

Rapids helped bring the plan to fruition using our cafeteria and kitchen design services, as well as our equipment and smallwares fulfillment program. Our dedicated team worked on both the cafeteria and the Level 12 kitchenette, ensuring both had the same high-end look and quality materials – including equipment that is all run on electric power.


Rapids Contract serves the United States with locations in Iowa, Minnesota, and Missouri!

Get in touch with one of our experts and let us know how we can help with any of your foodservice needs.

Talk to one of our experts right away and get immediate assistance. We are open Mon - Fri, 8am - 5pm CST.

Get in touch with one of our experts and let us know how we can help with any of your foodservice needs.

Talk to one of our experts right away and get immediate assistance. We are open Mon - Fri, 8am - 5pm CST.