Restaurant Shelving and Accessories Guide

With the variety of wire rack products available for restaurant shelving, it can be difficult to determine the storage you need. There are several goals that quality restaurant shelving should achieve, such as adding safety and efficiency to your operations.

As well as shelving, there are many accessories that can be used for restaurant storage or help with restaurant storage such as shelf bins for storing smaller inventory or kitchen equipment parts and hand trucks for moving bulky crates and cases of food and beverages. Knowing the material and handling products available can help you design the best storage solution for your restaurant.

Safety requirements

It is vital that any industrial shelving you use in your restaurant is safe. This means it is safe for your employees to use, but also that it is safe for food. The FDA has rules about sanitary storage, and you should ensure you meet all their requirements. Our team at Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc can help you determine which shelving is most appropriate for use in your space to ensure you meet all FDA and OSHA regulations.

The shelving and accessories you use should be easy to clean. This reduces the risk of pests or mold in your facility. Given the risk of spillage in a food storage area, an easy to clean storage unit will also save you time.

The requirements for your shelving will also vary depending on its use. For example, storing dry goods such as flour means you need storage bins with sealed lids. You will require shelving that can support the bins, while also allowing you access to the stored ingredients.

Best materials

While the FDA permits plastic and wood for food storage, it is recommended you use metal. Metal is sturdy and safe and can take heavy loads. It is also easy to clean. Chrome plated shelving can be an easy choice for basic storage. However, although it may be more affordable, it may rust.

Higher quality shelving with rust resistant and antimicrobial coating is more cost-effective. Not only will it last longer, but it will be easier to maintain and clean, potentially saving labor costs.

Weight support

A high-quality industrial restaurant shelving unit should be able to hold at least 150 pounds. This is suitable for many types of restaurant storage, such as food storage.

However, if you want sturdier storage, you can find products that hold up to 800 pounds. These may be needed for more substantial storage, such as large pieces of kitchen equipment. Heavier duty shelving like rivet shelving can hold thousands of pounds.

Before you choose the shelving, you want, make a list of all the items you intend to store from dry goods to your walk-in chill, and even banquet supplies in your storeroom. Ensure you know what the weight requirements are so that you choose the correct shelving for each section of your restaurant.


The height of your storage will dictate its effectiveness. Using your vertical space is important. However, because of the speed at which the stored items need to be accessed in a restaurant, high storage is not ideal. It is generally recommended that your shelving be around 7 feet high.

Also, make sure any storage you purchase has 6 inches of clearance above the floor. This is an FDA requirement, as it allows you to clean below the shelving without moving it.


Wire shelving is popular for restaurants, for many reasons. As well as being sturdy and easy to clean, the open mesh shelves mean there is added visibility. You can see to the shelves above and below eye level, and quickly assess which food or equipment is being stored on the shelf.

This is important for a fast paced, busy kitchen or stockroom. During a lunch or dinner rush, employees should be able to find what they are looking for immediately. Even a few lost minutes can have a knock-on effect that will delay service for the entire meal period.


Ventilation is very important when it comes to restaurant storage. Many areas of the restaurant must comply with rules regarding ventilation. This helps prevent dampness from spreading. Ventilation is also vital to the flow of air required for temperature-controlled storage.

Wire shelving is particularly suited for this. If you choose open mesh shelves, the air can flow more easily through the unit. This will mean any temperature control system can operate more efficiently. In this way, wire shelving may be able to save your restaurant money.

Temperature control

The different areas of your restaurant may require different types of shelving depending on the temperature. If you have a walk-in refrigerator or freezer, ensure you have shelving that can withstand these conditions.

Some restaurants may also have outdoor sections, where climate control is not possible. If you need shelving for these areas, it should be able to withstand altering temperatures and conditions.

Antimicrobial coated Proform wire shelving is ideal for humid or wet environments. It is made from carbon steel which is treated with a zinc phosphate base, and a hybrid epoxy antibacterial coat is applied to offer antimicrobial protection.


When storing food in temperature-controlled areas, there is a risk of humidity. You must keep your cold storage area dry, for sanitation purposes. Antimicrobial open metal shelving with sufficient ventilation can help with this.

Wheeled units

A popular accessory for restaurant shelving units is wheeled castors. These can be purchased separately and added to shelving that needs to be moved. This allows you to make the best use of your shelving by making it mobile.

Wheeled shelving units mean you can move heavy loads across the kitchen, food storage area or restaurant. You may be able to move certain ingredients to within easy reach during a meal rush, for example. You could also use wheeled units to transport trays of dirty dishes or table linens.

Wheeled units used within your storage area can also be extremely important. Many restaurants have smaller storage areas than they ideally need. Wheeled units allow you to quickly rearrange your storage into different configurations whenever needed, optimizing your storage space.

Label holders

Given the importance of speed to an efficient kitchen, labelling is important. Clear labelling allows employees to find food or equipment quickly. It can also help with other tasks.

For example, stock taking can be much faster if every item has been labelled. Restocking empty shelves is also easier, as even new employees can find the right location for each item.

Label holders are a crucial accessory for this. They clip onto the front of the shelf and can be moved to different places. This means you can have several labels for each shelf, at different locations along its length. Every section of the shelf will be dedicated to a particular purpose, for maximum organization.

Shelf dividers

When storing smaller items, it can be helpful to have smaller storage spaces. This can be particularly important when you want to reduce the risk of the item falling to one side. Crockery, glassware and other breakable items, for example, may present a risk if kept out on open shelving.

Shelf dividers can be added along the length of an open wire shelf. This is a quick and simple way to separate smaller storage areas. You can add labels to each section, for added organization.

Stabilizing accessories

A key feature of restaurant storage is its stability. In a busy kitchen or food storage area, it can be easy for employees to knock into shelving, increasing the risk of items falling. Not only can this result in lost stock or equipment, but it could result in injury and litigation.

Stabilizing accessories can be added to restaurant shelving to help prevent these risks. For example, a free-standing unit could be attached to the wall using brackets. These are simple to attach to a wire shelving unit because the back of the unit has an open design.

Another stabilizing option is footplates. These accessories are added to the bottom of each post, supplying support any time the unit is knocked or bumped. This can be useful if the shelving unit is located in the middle of the room, away from a wall.

In an environment where collision is an issue, it may seem as though you need purpose-built shelving to reduce the risk. However, by adding accessories to basic wire or metal shelving units, you can increase your restaurant’s safety at a much lower cost.

Trays and bins

Some items may need to be stored in containers. This includes fresh produce items, which may need to be stored in a high sided container. Dry goods such as rice or flour should be kept in a sealed container with a dedicated scoop. Rather than installing a separate set of drawers, you could add moveable plastic bins or trays to an open shelf system.

This allows you to use different sizes of bins or trays on one shelving unit, so you are not wasting storage space. The trays or bins can be made of food safe plastic, to ensure long lasting produce.

Using bins and trays also permits you to store smaller, loose items that can easily become lost. The bins should be labelled to allow employees to find items quickly.

If your restaurant is using a particular item over a certain time, perhaps a seasonal ingredient for a special dish, this system allows quick adaptation. Trays and bins can be moved between shelves for fast and effortless reorganization.

Solid shelving

An important safety factor for food storage is whether you need closed shelving. There is some risk of food leaking or spilling onto items below. When you are storing fresh produce or raw meats, this can present a significant safety hazard. You may also need to ensure certain items are kept apart to help prevent cross contamination of allergens.

In these cases, open mesh shelving is not ideal. Solid shelving will be a better option, protecting levels. However, you should still ensure the way you store your food items reduces the chance of harmful spills.

Tennsco Q-Line shelving is boltless for easy adjustability and has a load capacity up to 1,000 pounds. As your needs grow, you can easily add more shelving to create a row of shelves or add more adjustable shelves, shelf dividers, shelf boxes and even doors.

Liquor storage

Security can be a problem for some restaurants if you store additional liquor on the premises. These bottles are not only easy to break but can present a theft risk. They are also expensive and should be kept safe.

Liquor storage can be simple with the addition of wire mesh partitions. You could purchase a dedicated mesh unit if you store a lot of liquor. This means the bottles will be kept securely, but that you can still see what you have in stock at a glance. The E-Series welded wire partitions separate areas to create security cages without impacting air circulation or visibility.

Visible storage

If you need storage out on the open restaurant floor, or if your food storage area is visible to customers, appearance is important. Purchasing a set of matching shelving units can provide a uniform look. Epoxy coated shelving allows you to select different colors to complement your décor.

Wire shelving is discreet and can match almost any design style you use in your restaurant.

Final thoughts

Improving flow and productivity should be at the forefront of your restaurant operation and having the right storage is an integral part of this. At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., our design and installation teams can help you choose the right shelving for your kitchen and storage needs whether it is shelving or even accessories like employee lockers, utility carts crowd control barriers, hand trucks or dollies. Call us today at (800)-589-7225 (RACK) to speak with one of our project managers about your restaurant storage needs.

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