14 Questions to Ask Before Renting Kitchen Space

rentIt doesn’t matter if you’re a startup or seasoned home food producer, here are the questions to ask when you’re ready to start renting kitchen space.

Incubator Kitchens

An Incubator kitchen is a certified commercial kitchen in which individuals or businesses prepare small-batch food products and meals. Vendors pay an hourly or daily rate to lease a space shared by others. While most kitchen rentals are set up in similar ways, they all have distinct differences.

Shared-Use Kitchen

A Shared-Use kitchen is the most viable option for cottage food operators and food artisans who are looking for an economical cooking space. These kitchens are leased out to multiple food producers, caterers, and pop-up chefs at once. You will share the space with other vendors. Shared use facilities vendors are assigned to specific storage areas. You’ll have time slots and the rent is split among several businesses but working out a schedule among the various chefs can be difficult. Unfortunately, the kitchen area may not be available when you need it.

Commissary Kitchen

Like most kitchen rentals, a commissary allows food prep and storage. These facilities can cater specifically to food trucks and mobile food businesses, while others may be businesses that just rent out their kitchen space for some extra income. No real rules and guidelines. It can be quite chaotic. These kitchens may not offer support, resources or information about operating your business.

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Private Commercial Kitchen

If you need access to specialized equipment or more time and space to work, a private kitchen might be the right fit for your cottage food or small-batch food business. In a private kitchen, you take on the whole lease yourself, meaning you have full access and don’t need to share the space with anyone else. These are an excellent options for businesses with multiple food trucks or locations because you can use them as a central hub to prepare all your food before sending your trucks out or delivering to wholesale or retail locations.

You also won’t have to worry about the kitchen being cluttered with equipment and ingredients you don’t need. On the other hand, renting kitchen space from a private business is much more expensive, and may not be an attainable option for small-batch startups or new food trucks.

Non-Traditional Commercial Kitchen Sources

There are other spaces that have kitchens for rent that you can also consider. Churches, social clubs, schools, bed and breakfast establishments, and retirement communities all have kitchens.  Like renting kitchen space from a restaurant, these non-traditional locations are a great way to save on your rent costs. A non-traditional kitchen won’t offer as many amenities of a shared-use or incubator kitchen.

Another Great Read:  California Cottage Food Operations Update

Answer the following questions when renting kitchen space

  • What questions should I ask when renting a commercial kitchen?
  • What is the cost of renting the facility? Is it by the day or by the hour?
  • What is the inspection history of this commercial kitchen?
  • Are cleaning and disposal facilities available?
  • Does the commercial kitchen have dumpsters and recycling facilities?
  • Do you simply need space to store food and cook/bake?
  • Does the kitchen have time slots available for the hours you need on a regular basis?
  • What storage space is available for your equipment or dry, refrigerated, or frozen foods?
  • Ask about any additional cost for refrigerated and/or frozen foods?
  • What additional services do commercial kitchens offer that’s included in the rental fees?
  • Is there access to business consultants and support available to the kitchen participants?
  • Is there assistance in marketing, brokering, distribution of your products, recipe/formula development and is there office space available?
  • Ask about training that might support your business.
  • Is the kitchen facility as interested in your success as their own?
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