Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

A Lot Cooking When it Comes to Commercial Kitchens

By Steve Rappaport, Managing Director, Sinvin Realty | September 23, 2009

Steve RappaportSetting up a commercial kitchen can be a daunting task, but far from impossible. Armed with some information, brokers can help guide their clients to the proper choice of space.

To vent or not to vent, that is the first question asked when a space is suggested to a restaurateur. Many prospective tenants require that venting already be installed, however, those willing to invest by installing it themselves can profit in the long run, as they would be paying less for an unimproved space.
All commercial cooking equipment that produces smoke or grease-laden vapors must be accompanied by an independent exhaust system. An exhaust system has a few basic components. First, there are hoods, which are classified into two types. Type I hoods serve cooking appliances that produce grease or smoke, such as griddles, fryers, boilers, ovens, and ranges. Type II hoods serve cooking or dishwashing appliances that produce heat or steam, but not grease or smoke; these include steamers, kettles, pasta cookers, and dishwashers.

Different regulations apply to the two hood types. The size and placement of a hood varies depending on the appliance for which it is installed.
For example, the lower edge of a canopy type hood must extend horizontally at least six inches beyond the cooking surface on all open sides and be no more than four feet above it, whereas non-canopy hoods must be set no more than 12 inches back from the cooking surface, and no more than three feet above.
For more information on exhaust hoods, consult Section 507 of the New York City Mechanical Code, found at

The next element of an exhaust system is the duct system, which is a series of ducts that run from the kitchen to the exterior of the building to remove smoke and grease-laden vapors.

There are many rules that govern the installation and maintenance of ventilation ducts, commonly called black iron. Guidelines can be found in Sections 506 and 802 of the Mechanical Code, and in Section 503 of the New York City Fuel and Gas Code, found at

One essential question often asked by tenants is where venting should be installed, and where it should terminate. The answer to this question will differ in accordance with the type of venting required by the equipment used (see Table 503.4 in the Fuel and Gas Code).

Type L vents, for example, suitable for combination gas and oil-burning equipment, which comprise most cooking equipment of the Type I hood category, must terminate no less than two feet above the highest point of the roof penetration and no less than two feet above any portion of a building within ten feet of it.
The third feature of an exhaust system are grease removal devices, which can take many forms, including grease filters and residue traps in grease ducts. There are a multitude of laws that regulate the clearances, cleanouts, and termination locations of grease ducts, many of which can be found again in Section 506 of the Mechanical Code.

It is important to remember that along with any exhaust system, one must also have a makeup air system. Fixed air supply openings must be installed to provide makeup air for air exhausted through the exhaust system. General rules for makeup air can be found in Section 508 of the Mechanical Code.
Commercial kitchens also need to have a system in place in case a fire occurs. Fire suppression systems, or ANSUL systems as they have come to be known, are handled by the FDNY and, less directly, by the New York City Department of Buildings.

In order to obtain an approval from the FDNY for new fire suppression system installations, a New York State Licensed Professional Engineer or Registered Architect must draw up complete plans of the installation. These must be filed — specifically, with the Department’s Technology Management Rangehood Inspection Group. The plans will also be reviewed by that group’s Plan Examiner, and a series of tests and inspections will ensue after approval and installation.
Possible further additions, and sometimes alternatives, to exhaust systems include different types of pollution control units and filters, such as electrostatic precipitators, wet or air scrubbers, charcoal filters, and other filtration systems.

These are often used when the cost of running a stack is prohibitive because of the height of a building, or when because of a building’s configuration, it is impossible to install one.

Companies that provide exhaust system installation services are generally up-to-date with all existing laws and guidelines. The information provided here is not intended to be all-inclusive, but meant to enlighten readers on the general elements of a commercial kitchen.