Trends & Industry Insights

Commissary Kitchen - What It Is And How It Can Help Your New Food Business

Food trucks are growing in popularity - and so are commissary kitchens. This is because they are the cheapest and easiest way for people to open up a food business without investing in a restaurant building or even renting one.

Renting out a restaurant space or building gets expensive because of the interior decoration costs, setting the ambiance of the place, and maintenance and utility costs.

Food trucks seem like a great option if you have a limited budget and want effective restaurant management.

However, there are still a lot of drawbacks when it comes to owning and running a food truck. For starters, you will not have as much space as you require for food storage and food preparation. It’s hard enough taking orders and serving from a cramped up food truck. There’s very little space for you to organize your tools and equipment, store perishable food and food that needs to be kept cold, prepare ingredients for your dishes, and then serve them out to customers!

That’s why most food truck owners turn to commissary kitchens.

A commissary kitchen gives you all the benefits of a physical restaurant kitchen, with less of the costs involved.

What is a Commissary Kitchen?

Before we get into all the wonderful benefits of a commissary kitchen, let’s first talk about what a commissary kitchen actually is!

A commissary kitchen is an established commercial kitchen that is rented out to foodservice owners for them to store and prepare food for their customers.

There are some commissary kitchens that are especially open to food truck owners and other mobile food businesses, whereas some of them already have their own food business, but rent out part of their space to other businesses. Doing so opens another extra income stream for them.

What Are the Benefits of a Commissary Kitchen?

There are many benefits of using a commissary kitchen. Here are some of them:

1. Convenience

Commissary kitchens provide convenience. A food truck can get crowded easily with even just a couple of chefs working inside. Commissary kitchens allow your chefs much more space to move about it and easily prepare ingredients that can later be carried in the food truck.

2. More Place For Equipment

Since there’s only so much you can load into a food truck, food truck owners often miss out on having better kitchen equipment onboard to help them prepare better meals. 

A commissary kitchen is usually equipped will all kinds of cooking tools and equipment that can be shared by everyone. This allows you to prepare more complex and unique meals that will attract more customers.

3. It Works Out To Be Cheaper

Not only will you be saving up by not buying your own restaurant space, but you will also be saving on expensive equipment that you would have not had the chance to buy right at the start of your food business. Commissary kitchens are equipped with all the essential kitchen appliances and equipment that is shared by everyone who uses the kitchen.

4. It Is Safe, Hygienic, And Legal

Preparing food in a food truck is generally not legal. Food truck owners, therefore, need to rent out commissary kitchen to prepare their food. These kitchens are also clean, hygienic and up to food standards.

It also helps you plan your menu better and reduce restaurant food waste.

Do You Need a Commissary Kitchen?

When you are starting out, it can be really confusing to decide whether you really need a commissary kitchen or not. It can be helpful to first stop and consider how much food you will be preparing in the commissary kitchen every day, and how much food you will be selling.

If it makes sense for you financially to rent out a space to prepare your dishes, then you can look around for a clean and affordable commissary kitchen to rent.

Instead of looking to rent a kitchen by the hour, calculate how many times in a week or in a month you will have to rent the kitchen space. This will work out best for you financially and in the long term.

When you run a business you always have to think about the most cost-effective ways to rent out a commissary kitchen.

Next, figure out how much profit you will be able to make by making an average estimate of your monthly sales. The minute you feel you are outgrowing your rented space, it may be time to invest in a restaurant kitchen of your own.

Another reason you need to use a commissary kitchen is to comply with local laws. Most places do have laws concerning how and where the food you serve your customers is prepared, so it pays to be careful with those laws. If the laws in your area are not clear (after all, the food truck business is relatively new), then it would be better to check in with your local government for guidance on the issue. It is always better to be careful about these laws than to be caught in problems later.

Are There Different Types of Commissary Kitchens?

There definitely are different types of commissary kitchens that get rented out to food trucks. This is good for you since you have a wide range of options to choose from depending upon your budget and the type of food you want to prepare for your customers.

Here are some of the most common types of commissary kitchens:

1. Shared Commissary Kitchens

These are the most popular kind of kitchens that are shared among different food truck owners and other small food outlet owners. So there would be multiple chefs, cooks, and workers from different businesses working at the kitchen at the same time.

These businesses share the space and equipment in the commissary kitchen and could be assigned specific storage spaces and working counters depending on the type of agreement they have with the kitchen owner.

Although the rent gets split up between the different businesses, there is always the issue of coordination between the cooks and chefs and not having the kitchen fully booked at a particular time.

2. Private Commissary Kitchens

A private kitchen is a commissary kitchen you rent or take a lease on, and you don’t have to share it with other businesses. This is perfect for you if our food business is growing and you feel the need for a more spacious kitchen that gives you access to specialized equipment, then a private commissary kitchen would be your best bet.

Since in a private kitchen you will be paying the whole lease amount yourself, you will not be sharing it with anyone else. This would be especially suitable for those food businesses that have multiple food trucks or locations as you can use it as a central kitchen for your business. 

In this central kitchen, you will be able to prepare all your food and send it out to your various locations. This ensures that your business keeps good quality and standard, and all your outlets serve the same quality and taste of food.

3. Restaurant Kitchens

Renting out a kitchen that belongs to another restaurant is also a good option when you are just starting out. Some restaurants with big kitchens rent out their kitchens during their off-hours or non-peak hours. 

This means that most of the time you get the whole kitchen to yourself, although those may be at non-peak hours. You can use this time to prep most of your food and take it to your food truck where you can put them together and serve them to your customers.

The advantage of renting out a kitchen that belongs to another restaurant is that it may work out cheaper for you and you get the whole place to yourself and your staff, without other food business staff crowding up the place. Also, you know exactly what hours the kitchen is available to you so that you can plan your meals in advance and prepare most of your ingredients in that time period so that it is easier to serve from your food truck.

4. Other Kitchens

There are also some non-traditional kitchens that you can rent out temporarily for your new food business. These could be local churches, clubs, school kitchens, or even assisted living community kitchens that are happy to share their amenities and equipment with you.

You will be surprised to find how willing these organizations are to rent out their kitchen spaces, so never hesitate to ask around.

Renting out these spaces will not only save you money on rent, but also on heavier equipment that you may not have the money to invest in as yet. However, they will not offer you as much as a commissary kitchen which is designed for this purpose.

Commissary Kitchens May Be The Right Choice For You

Along with all the benefits discussed in this post, a commissary kitchen adheres to local laws, which your food truck business may not possess. This will help you protect yourself from fines or other issues that may potentially arise in the future.

Commissary kitchens also offer parking space for your food truck and storage space for your ingredients so that you don’t have to stuff them up in your food truck.