Starting your own food business is the dream career move for those looking to turn their talents into profit. Others are simply interested in riding the wave of interest in having multiple restaurant options from one kitchen.
One of the most beneficial tools used today is actually something that's been around for decades, commissary kitchens. Everyone from new food entrepreneurs to seasoned food truck owners is leveraging these shared culinary spaces.
What Is a Commissary Kitchen?
The needs of a restaurant are near endless. There are regulations in place from the FDA as well as local and state laws surrounding how food must be prepared in order to be sold. Many regions require all food to be prepared in a tested and FDA-approved kitchen, a costly investment that new owners can't afford.
Picture a huge kitchen that serves an entire college campus, hospital or hotel. Dozens of cooktops, clean stainless steel surfaces and a gaggle of chefs running around yelling "Behind!" to direct traffic. This is how a commissary kitchen operates, only it tends to be multiple smaller teams rather than one large one.
Can I Rent a Commissary Kitchen Myself?
There's a laundry list of reasons that having a commercial setup specifically for you and your crew is optimal. Unfortunately, none of them are cost-effective as renting the entire kitchen can cause a considerable dent in profits.
On the other hand, the shelves and cold storage will only have the ingredients used by you. Controlling cross-contamination becomes much simpler. The extra space means less bumping into each other during busy shifts, reducing the tension that builds during these hours.
Sharing the space with other chef teams can significantly lower costs. With equipment, cookware and storage already being approved by the FDA, commissary kitchens are the smart solution for most of us. You'll have to learn how to share, but that's a small step to take in order to save potentially thousands of dollars each month.
How Does It Differ From Ghost Kitchens?
Commissary and ghost kitchens both share similar benefits for entrepreneurs, extending beyond food prep. Ghost kitchens tend to be extensions of established traditional restaurants. Sometimes the known brand will want to try new offerings and will use a new brand and ghost kitchen.
Those with their own concept may partner with these established kitchens in order to affordably offer their dishes. In this case, the new brand can leverage the popularity and infrastructure of the popular restaurant they are renting space from. It stops there though as ghost kitchens are delivery-only and lack any other options for exposure such as a storefront or dine-in experience.
As for commissary kitchens, they are outfitted to be a more cooperative and communal space. Normal business hours don't exist in a commissary kitchen as teams can rent them out by the hour or day. The commissary kitchen definition is "a shared-use kitchen licensed and certified for food production while fulfilling regulatory compliance."
Who Benefits Most From Commercial Kitchens?
Anyone who lacks the funding or capital to create a compliant kitchen should explore commissary kitchen options. That being said, there are certain groups flocking to the concept more than others. For instance, food trucks are an unexpected crowd now found sharing these cooking spaces.
Renting space in a commissary kitchen for food truck prep is becoming the norm as more regulations are being drafted for the industry. As more talented chefs leave the workforce to chase self-employment, food trucks are popping up by the dozen.
By prepping the needed items in a commissary kitchen, food trucks can quickly and compliantly stock their truck each day. The larger space increases productivity which allows food truck owners to focus on operations and customer service.
How Do Commissary Kitchens Improve Business?
During the current Great Resignation, many commercial cooks are taking their skills back home to serve their own food. The trouble comes with the legality pertaining to food cooked in a personal kitchen rather than a licensed commercial space.
Commissary kitchens are perfect for bakers and chefs with a social media following as the kitchen can grow with their fanbase. The lack of a brick-and-mortar location is of little concern as new leads are generated in the digital world.
Established restaurant chains will test new cuisine or menu items in a commissary kitchen before implementing them into their regular menu. It also means their regular kitchen can continue business as usual, separating concerns for the staff.
Even restaurants with a single location can benefit from commissary kitchens. As delivery inches closer to becoming a requirement, these locally-owned locations are playing catch up. Sharing space in a commercial kitchen provides them with a staging area for orders to be picked up by drivers. Otherwise their regular space becomes overcrowded and decreases the experience of staff and customers.
How Do You Get the Most Out of Commissary Kitchens?
By availing restaurants and entrepreneurs with customizable space, commissary kitchens are a given improvement for many. That being said, there are certain steps that need to be taken to truly realize as much gain as possible after investing in monthly rent.
One approach is to have everything lined up to start selling food as soon as possible. Creating and developing a brand is vital. Customers won't be able to drive by and see your sign meaning social media accounts and ad space need to be optimized.
Managing your kitchen is the next pillar of a successful commissary operation. Order management platforms gather requests from various platforms and present them on a single dashboard. Cuboh is the leading restaurant technology company helping start-ups and entrepreneurs alike.
Order Management Platforms
What makes virtual kitchens apart unique is their reliance on food delivery and pick-up orders. Unlike traditional restaurants, ghost kitchens depend fully on online ordering to make money. Thus, it's important to keep customers satisfied by ensuring that every order is made quickly and correctly.