Interview Question for a Commercial Kitchen is a little e-booklet providing questions you can ask any Commercial Kitchen owner. It is important to learn all you can about anyone interested in renting their commercial kitchen facility.
It is important to learn before you leap and the stability of the facility and if the business owner is in good standing financially. You do not want to sign a contract only to discover the kitchen will soon close due to financial issues.
What to learn about the owners of the kitchen?
The person that manages the commercial kitchen facility may not be the same person who owns the kitchen. This is information you have a right to know. In a COVID-19 environment owners of the property have a right to let you know if they are in good standing and will not close the facility in the event they have cash-flow issues. When working with commercial kitchens, make sure there is a clause that allows you to get out of the contract should a financial issue occur. (Note: This is not legal advice, only common sense.)
Is the facility clean and sanitary?
The facility should be receiving good health scores from the local Dept. of Health. Some facilities inspect each operator’s space individually. The facility may also have a score offered for those areas available for general use. You will want to know what happens if other vendors are receiving poor health scores. Will this impact your ability to use the facility and can the Department of Health close the facility? This information is essential.
Do you feel safe?
Many commercial kitchens work odd hours, and it is your responsibility to learn how your safety and the safety of your staff will be secured. You want to assure your car/truck and equipment, are safe. Check the outside of the facility to assure it is well-lit with plenty of safe parking. You will want to look for security cameras throughout the building as well as outside the building recording footage 24 hrs a day. Check to see if you have access to view the video footage should an issue occur.
How flexible is the lease offered by the commercial kitchen?
This is when you will want to push the envelop and ask for a flexible lease. Do you think you might need extra time away from your regular facility (time) to work on recipe development? Is so, let the facility manager know. It is important to give considerable thought to how and when you will use the kitchen rental space. Plan, plan, plan.
Who manages the facility?
The manager of the commercial kitchen should have experience in managing vendors and encouraging vendors to follow all kitchen rules and regulations. It should not be your responsibility to manage or supervisor other vendors. It is not your responsibility to make the repair of kitchen equipment. You will want to know if the manager is experienced at operating a commercial kitchen and what their responsibilities will be in regards to supporting your efforts to use the facility.
How does the facility handle overcrowding?
The number of vendors using the facility should be limited. There is nothing worse than an overcrowded kitchen. Maintaining control of access to the kitchen is necessary to prevent overcrowding at any one time. Does the facility have any kind of reservation system? What is the policy should you need to drop in and prepare products.
What equipment is included?
Does the facility provide sufficient and top-of-the-line equipment for your use? Before visiting the commercial kitchen make a list of the equipment you will need to produce your food products.
Make an additional list of production equipment, cookware, pots, pans, baking pans, and utensils. If for some reason a piece of equipment is needed are you allowed to bring it into the kitchen, i.e. commercial mixers. Address all liability issues and leaving your personal equipment at the facility overnight. Often vendors will be asked to provide their own cookware, sheet pans, tongs, spoons, etc. Will the kitchen be stocked with these items and basic dry goods so, in a pinch, you do not have those necessities.
The key to finding the commercial kitchen of your dreams is by asking lots of questions.