Finding a commercial kitchen that works for you is an integral part of bringing your catering concept to life. The location, type and size of your commercial kitchen determines many aspects of your business, including the type of dishes you can make, the capacity of events you can handle and where they can be located. When it’s time to find a commercial kitchen where you can drop anchor, guide your search by the type of food you want to make and the scale of your operation. Because we want you to succeed, we’ve even outlined the 6 most common kitchen options for catering businesses.
Shared Commercial Kitchen
For most caterers who are fresh in the game, a shared commercial kitchen is the most viable option. A shared-use kitchen is leased out to multiple caterers or chefs at once. Sharing the lease with other businesses means you’ll save money, but scheduling can be an issue.
Many start-up caterers like the idea of catering from their home kitchen. While this is a good possibility for small-scale businesses, your home kitchen’s output capacity is probably limited. Also, a catering-from-home company usually does not look as professional or legitimate to clients. Furthermore, you will need to do research and work hard to ensure that your operation meets local health code standards, which often include pricey renovations or building a separate kitchen altogether.
Private Commercial Kitchen
Leasing out your own private commercial kitchen space is the best option for a catering business with large-scale aspirations. When you have your own kitchen to work with, the possibilities are endless. You do not have to worry about kitchen availability, and you can purchase or lease your own equipment to ensure that you have everything you need to execute your menu on a large scale. If your space has a front of the house, you can also offer clients a tasting straight from your kitchen. Even better, if things go well you can expand your carry-out and pick-up services, or start selling some of your signature items in a retail environment.
Kitchen at a Venue
If you want to perform a lot of on-site catering, you can rent out a commercial kitchen at the actual venue. If you end up catering at a venue with an empty kitchen, you may be able to lease the space temporarily. Unfortunately, most venues only lease their kitchens long-term to the in-house preferred caterer for that business. If you have contacts with venues, try to become their exclusive or preferred caterer.
Many caterers have found that renting out a restaurant kitchen during hours when the restaurant is closed is the most viable option for them. You will save money by leasing a space that would otherwise go unused during those hours. Furthermore, you will know exactly when you can use the kitchen and when you cannot, avoiding the scheduling issues that can occur with a shared-lease kitchen.
Portable or Temporary Kitchen
If your concept involves mobile catering or offsite catering, you can purchase or rent your own portable kitchen equipment and supplies and house it in a van, trailer or truck. This will give you a lot of versatility, allowing you to cook just about anywhere, whether it is a church parking lot or an outdoor wedding. You can simply wheel your equipment out of the vehicle and set up a temporary kitchen. However, you may still need a separate space to do most of your prep work.
Once you know what kind of kitchen you want, you can start shopping around to find the best pricing and amenities for your commercial kitchen. Whether you need to buy a portable trailer for your kitchen or lease a shared space, the newspaper or internet classifieds are usually a good place to look. You may also want to ask around to see if you have the connections to find a really killer deal.