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Don’t Fall In The Pit: Tips For Assembling A Commercial Dishwashing Area

Setting up a commercial dishwashing area (or “dish pit”) can seem an overly tedious process, but it is of utmost importance.  The functionality of a dish pit helps sets the pace of a commercial kitchen, so it is important that businesses make sure they spend the necessary time setting up this often overlooked area.  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when setting up or redesigning your business’s dish area.

Consider the Space Available

Like every other area of a commercial kitchen, space is of utmost importance in the dishwashing area.  Dish pits have a number of components that take up space, including things like clean and soiled dishtables, sinks, and, of course, a commercial dishwasher.

It is important to relegate proper space to accommodate the expected volume the dish area will see.  A business such as a smoothie stand or small bakery will require a significantly smaller dish area than an operation such as a large banquet facility. 

During the initial phases of setting up your dish pit, pick an adequately sized dishwasher (or dish sink) and work backwards.  Space can always be found for dirty bus boxes during a rush, but the size / capabilities of the dishwasher or dish sink you purchase won’t change unless you buy a new one. 


Believe it or not, the flow of dirty dishes in and out of your commercial dishwashing area is important.  The placement and flow of a commercial dish area must be easy for servers / bus boys to access with bus boxes of soiled dishes, but must also provide a clean storage place for dishes to dry properly and easy access for cooks in need of plates on the line.  Whether your dish area flows from left to right or vice versa is only of importance to your kitchen specifically.  Dishtables, dish sinks, and commercial dishwashers can all be oriented to flow in both directions (or even be set to fit in corners or against walls), giving businesses the option to choose what suits their specific needs.  When shopping, be sure to make your dish area work for you rather than against you.

Upright Or Undercounter Dishwasher

Traditionally, upright or conveyor dish machines are the standard of a commercial dish area.  These machines not only offer businesses a higher rack turnover, but increase general productivity and flow in the dish pit.  Undercounter dish machines are intended for use in instances where space is limited, or in low volume operations.  Though an upright dishwasher may cost more initially, they can wash up to twice the number of racks per hour, and use approximately the same amount of energy per wash cycle.  Businesses that are even remotely considering a conveyor dish washer, however, should abstain completely from purchasing any undercounter machines.

Plumbing & Sink Considerations

There are a number of soiled dishtables available that have pre-rinse sinks built into their design, however not all businesses opt for this design.  A dish sink of some sort is 100% necessary, but a dish sink should be purchased to fit your precise needs.  Some smaller kitchens don’t necessarily have the room for a mop sink, and instead opt to have a dish sink large enough that it can be used as a mop sink.  Other kitchens don’t have dishwashers at all, and require 3-compartment or 4-compartment sinks for the three stages of commercial dish washing (wash, rinse, and sanitize).  Pre-rinse faucet units are relatively standard for businesses operating with dishwashers, but can be mounted and sized to accommodate plumbing and varying sink types.  Plumbing can be altered once the larger pieces of a dish pit are placed, but it is best to have a rough idea what kind of faucets are going where during the planning stages.

Down The Drain

Depending on what will be flowing down your drains, there may be a pressing need for some other pieces of equipment in your commercial dish area.  For example, businesses that will be dumping waste water after boiling out fryers will require a commercial grease trap to separate out any residual fats.

Businesses that expect excessive amounts of food waste, such as caterers or banquet facilities, would do well to invest in a commercial waste disposer.  A commercial disposer system can help businesses reduce their overall trash output, and significantly reduce dumpster fees.

In addition to these items, items like floor drains or troughs should be installed around the dishwashing area.  During rush periods, excessive amounts of water and waste end up on the floor of a dish pit, and floor troughs and drains are essential is easily trapping the excess water.  These floor drains should and troughs should be shielded with screen to trap solid waste, and possibly even a grease trap depending on the expected volume of oil that may end up on the floor (which will be, in most cases, minimal).

Small Items

There are a number of smaller items necessary in the commercial dish area.  Items like squeegees (both for counters and floors), mops, scrubber pads, and cleaning / sanitizing chemicals all have their place in the commercial dish pit.  Often times, restaurateurs designated other cleaning supplies, such as mop buckets or brooms, to be specifically used in the dish area.  The dish pit is by far the dirtiest area of a restaurant, and by designating cleaning supplies to be specifically used there, it prevents these items from contaminating other areas of the kitchen or the dining room.

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