The design of the kitchen renovation considered feedback from many different sources, including Session, the Board of Trustees, Deacons, employees, and the volunteers that regularly use the kitchen before completing the architectural drawings and starting construction. During the solicitation of input, objectives were identified and prioritized. Important objectives included (i) adhering to a financial constraint of a $250,000 budget, (ii) avoiding a decrease in the operational capacity and capabilities of the kitchen, (iii) compliance with the fire code and the building code, (iv) replacing and modernizing the equipment, some of which had not been replaced since original installation, (v) an improvement in the optimality of the utilization of the space, noting that some of the space was no longer used efficiently (i.e.- the area immediately inside the entrance from Westminster Hall); (vi) the replacement of cabinets and enhanced accessibility to cabinets, which were too high and/or too deep in some areas and could be difficult to open, (vii) the installation of air conditioning, and (viii) improving the aesthetics.

One of the decisions made during the design process was to avoid classification as a “commercial” kitchen per the terms of the building code, because a commercial kitchen requires additional work and costs necessary to comply with the building code; (e.g. hoods that must be vented through the roof, rather than the self-circulating hood selected). During the course of visiting other church kitchens in February and March, we learned that other churches that built “commercial” kitchens do not actually utilize their facilities to an extent that makes the additional improvements and costs necessary. The feedback to the task force from users of the kitchen as to the nature and extent of current operations allowed for an informed decision to avoid the costs of a commercial kitchen. And through the careful selection of the right equipment, the operational capacity of the kitchen was maintained. Two ovens that deliver the same capacity as the existing larger oven were identified, and each is allowed to operate with a self-circulating hood. Communication with the building department informed that, as long as items are not cooked with grease, self-circulating hoods are satisfactory and compliant. The renovated kitchen will avoid categorization as “commercial”, even though the new dishwasher will be a robust unit typical of those in commercial settings.

Although the project is not nearly finished, it currently remains comfortably within the budget. Multiple quotes from subcontractors were obtained by the general contractor, so the project was competitively bid. Much of the equipment has been ordered directly by BRPC, thereby avoiding the “marking up” of the cost of the equipment by the subcontractors. One of the task force members was successful in obtaining two pieces of new equipment as a charitable donation. Moreover, a careful inventory of existing equipment led to the determination that some equipment does not yet require replacement, such as the refrigerator, freezer, and two of the carts.

An inventory of all the items stored in the kitchen also was completed, as part of the effort to ensure the renovated kitchen will deliver the same or more storage. Some of the storage of plates and silverware in the newly renovated kitchen will be in the form of mobile “caddies”, intended to make the transport of these items to and from Westminster Hall easier.

The renovated kitchen will include new cabinets, new flooring, new and brighter lighting, and new paint. The electric range and ovens will be replaced, and so will the dishwasher. An HVAC unit will be installed on the wall, with its condenser on the ground outside. A griddle will be hard-wired and stationed on a countertop next to the new ranges, to provide for the continuation of pancake breakfasts. A new island which will include electrical outlets will be installed as a work area in the middle of the space where a group of tables of differing sizes had been pushed together. The wall opposite the range and ovens will include a new sink, an area for a coffee station, and an ice-maker. The area around the dishwasher will maintain the same “flow”, allowing for the storage of plates on the stainless steel counter adjacent to the new dishwasher.

Dave Gibbons
Submitted on behalf of the Westminster Hall Kitchen Task Force