Prison Architect – How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen

This guide will show you how to properly set up a kitchen and canteen to maximize efficiency and keep temperatures low.
I will go through how to meet prisoner needs during eat and free time and how to efficiently build your logistics system.

Building Your Kitchen

What’s the saying? The kitchen is the heart of the home? Something like that…
Anyway, a kitchen is one of the main facilities in your prison. It is necessary to keep your prisoners fed, happy and in a non-‘♥♥♥ this place’ attitude.

The key to building a successful and efficient kitchen is a ratio. This ratio changes depending on your policy on food. But the default ratio (medium variety, medium quantity) is:

  • 1 serving table = ~40 prisoners.
  • 1 serving table = 2 cookers.
  • 1 cooker = 2 refrigerators.
  • Preferably 1 sink for every serving table.
  • Preferably 1 chef for every cooker.

These ratios should help you design your kitchen efficiently.

Space is also another important factor. Having all of your appliances in a small space is a massive fire hazard and will make it easier to spread fire, especially in escape mode. On the other hand, having them too far apart means that A, space is wasted and B, your staff will have to move around more meaning that time is lost moving from cooker to fridge. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but the extra second it takes a cook to move a certain distance is an extra second longer it takes to cook a meal and feed your inmates, these seconds can add up.

Compare these two kitchens:

Prison Architect - How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen
Prison Architect - How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen

Above is a very badly designed kitchen, it has no bins, no space to move around, and an incorrect ratio of cookers to fridges.

Below is a much better designed kitchen, it has the correct ratio (1 cooker = 2 fridges), a bin (to get rid of food waste) and a decent amount of space. Also, notice the sprinklers, kitchen fires are very common if you have events turned on and can get out of hand very, very quickly.

Metal detectors are extremely important in a kitchen, whether you have prisoners working in them or not. They are a common source of knives, digging tools (spoons, forks etc.) and can pose a serious threat to the security of your prison if you do not have them. Also, I have noticed that it is possible for prisoners to bypass them if they do not have a fence or wall either side. That is why I placed two brick wall either side of my metal detectors in the bottom image. An alternative is just to remove the doors altogether and replace them with metal detectors.

Building Your Canteen

Canteens are tricky to get right first time, especially if you are a new player.

The minimum furniture a canteen needs is tables, benches and serving tables. However, this is simply not enough to keep your prisoners happy.

Remember that ratio?

  • 1 serving table = ~40 prisoners.

Keep that in mind.

Also, you will find that 1 table and 2 benches in a 4×3 rectangle will give you space for 8 prisoners.

Many people would play this game, build a canteen by throwing some chairs and tables and a serving table into a room and calling it a day, and then wonder why their prisoners are so unhappy. Simply put, this is a terrible way to design your prison.

During this process, it is also necessary to consider the amount of time your prisoners have to eat. Giving them too much will leave them bored and looking for something else to do (usually fighting) and having too little time will leave your prisoners half fed, which is absolutely not good.

Having one large canteen in the center of your prison will force all of your inmates to migrate toward it, clogging paths, gates and metal detectors. It will also open up the possibility of some of your prisoners being fed and some not. The best way to design a prison is to have one canteen per number of prisoners. In my current prison, I have one large 72 prisoner cell block which has its own canteen and kitchen. My prisoners only have to walk a short distance to get to their eating place. I only assign 2 hours of eating time for them as well, simply because I worked out that most of them will finish their meals within one hour, so I tagged on an extra hour to make sure any stragglers are fed as well. This may take some trial and improvement to get right.

Compare these two images:

Prison Architect - How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen
Prison Architect - How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen

In the above image, I built a very awful and badly thought out canteen. The prisoners have no space to move around and they have nothing to do other than eat and sit. This will not leave prisoners happy. I have constant fights and occasional deaths in this canteen.

The below image has plenty of space for prisoners to move around, has other facilities for them to use (toilets (very important), pool tables, phones and a TV). I have not experienced a single fight in this canteen.

Sorting Out Logistics

Logistics can be very overwhelming for new players, especially if they are not used to dealing with complex systems across multiple screens.

If you want to maximize efficiency, you will have to edit your logistics.

The logistics will tell your prisoners where to eat, where your cooks will send food and which kitchens will serve which canteens.

Prison Architect - How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen
Prison Architect - How to Properly Set Up a Kitchen and Canteen

Yellow lines indicate where canteens will source food.

Red lines indicate where prisoners from different cell blocks will get food.

Clicking and holding shift will allow you to assign multiple canteens to multiple cell blocks. You should be able to work this out yourself.

Balancing demand with supply is very important. You should have an even amount of people sourcing food from each and every canteen (depending on the capacity of the canteen) and you should have the correct amount of food being sent to each canteen. This is why I find it easier to have one canteen to one kitchen.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13705 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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