November 23, 2020

5 Commercial Kitchen Questions for Growing Your Online Food Business

So you’re graduating from home chef to commercial kitchen space? Congrats on a major step towards taking your business to the next level. This is a major investment in yourself and your burgeoning food business!

At the same time, selecting the right commercial kitchen space can be intimidating. It’s likely that this is one of the biggest investments you’ve yet made in your business.

But don’t worry. Castiron has your back. Here are five questions (and answers) to help you evaluate, select, and get cooking in your shiny new commercial kitchen space.

1. What local and national food laws will affect my business?

One of the primary considerations is food laws, including national and local. Your commercial kitchen decision depends on where you are, what you’re selling, and who you are selling to. Every state has different cottage food laws, and sometimes it can even matter what county you are in. 

No since you are already thinking about entering commercial kitchen space, it’s likely that you’ve already done your homework on this one. However, if you are still just exploring then check out this resource for state-by-state guidelines and resources.  

As a general rule, commercial kitchen space, along with the necessary licenses and permits will allow your business to (legally) grow much bigger than if you stayed in a home cooking space.  

One other consideration (that you’ve probably already thought of). At this point you should definitely consider establishing your business as a legal entity. The cheapest and easiest option is to set up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). Check out this resource for food trucks which would apply generally to any small food business. Among other things, this important step will protect your personal assets from any claims against your business. 

There’s obviously a lot to cover here. It’s very important to do your research and even consider talking to a local lawyer. While the legal stuff is generally not why you got into this business, it is an important part of growth!


2. Which commercial kitchen is right for me?

There are various types of commercial kitchens. This can range from buying or building your own space (the most expensive option) to renting fractional space in a shared or commissary kitchen. When you are first getting started, we most often recommend starting with shared kitchen space. It’s a fast and relatively inexpensive way to get started. As your business grows, you can always weigh bigger and more expensive options. 

Here’s how The Kitchen Door defines Commissary kitchens:

“A shared-use, commissary kitchen is a commercially-licensed space for chefs, bakers, caterers, food trucks, and other culinary professionals. You typically pay for a membership, or by the hour, in order to rent out cooking space alongside other food entrepreneurs. You also get to share expensive resources like cold storage, equipment, and cleaning supplies.”

These types of kitchens are available in many different cities and towns around the country, and they offer maximum flexibility for your growing business.


3. How much does it cost to rent a commercial kitchen?

Renting commercial kitchen space can cost anywhere from $15-30 p/hour. Some kitchens will also require a deposit or monthly membership fee. Typically a higher joining fee will also result in a lower hourly rate, so it’s important to consider your long-term strategy before making this decision. 

In the age of the maker, commercial kitchen space is becoming much more available. Over the coming years, we would expect to see a decrease in the cost of commercial space as the food industry continues to shift. 

Commercial and commissary kitchens charge both hourly or monthly, depending on the individual kitchen. It is common to buy a certain amount of hours per week or month, for example, check out this link to a Quora post for an example of a kitchen that charges $500 p/month for 20 hours of use

The most important thing to takeaway is that commercial kitchen space is generally affordable, with a variety of pricing options.


4. What equipment and support are in a commercial kitchen?

Commercial kitchens come in various shapes and sizes. In general, they will include an oven, grill, microwave, and plenty of counter-space to spread out. Most come with both cold and dry storage. Of course they come with commercial grade dishwashers and some come outfitted with many of the other tools a chef, baker or artisan cook might need to prepare food. Check out this article for a little more information on what is generally available in one of these kitchens. 

Another advantage of most commercial kitchens is the ability to use them as a shipping address. Buying in bulk? Need to store something immediately? These kitchens have you covered so that your home life and your business life can stay just a little bit separated. 

You may need to bring certain specialty items, depending on what you’re making. It’s a good idea to tour several kitchens in your area to understand the different amenities each of them has.


5.) How do you rent a commercial kitchen?

Renting a commercial kitchen is actually quite easy! Many of these facilities are always looking for new chefs and tenants. You can check out resources like The Kitchen Door to find a handful of kitchens near you. Set up some tours and select one that balances the correct amount of flexibility, amenities, and cost for you and your business. 

We definitely suggest touring more than one so that you can be sure to make a fully informed decision.


Conclusion

Congrats again on this exciting milestone! The decision to move into a commercial kitchen space is a major inflection  point in the life of a food business. 

At Castiron, we’re building technology for folks just like you. We’re in pre-launch and looking for exciting cooks to join our beta program. Our objective is to save you time and money, while automating some of the mundane tasks associated with running a food business.

Want to learn more about Castiron and our beta program? Fill out the form here and we’ll reach out to you soon. 

In the meantime, best of luck with your commercial kitchen endeavors. We can’t wait to see what’s cooking.


You're serious about your food business. We are too. Ditch the complex order tracking spreadsheets and late night texts from your customers. The Castiron platform is purpose-built to help culinary artisans build and grow their businesses online.
Get Started (It's Free!)