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What Is A Commissary Kitchen?

In the era of ghost kitchens, food trucks, and pop-up stops, commissary kitchens have quickly become a common necessity of the restaurant industry. Commissary kitchens are fully-equipped rentable kitchens where restaurateurs can prepare their food. They are commercially licensed, meaning that food service workers can legally serve the food cooked there. 

To those running small restaurants, or food service places without kitchens, this is an incredible boon. This significantly lowers the buy-in cost to start chasing your restaurant dreams, and allows variety and flavor to grow within the industry. 

 

How Commissary Kitchens Operate

There are two types of commissary kitchens— private and shared. Shared kitchen can be used by other businesses or operators throughout the day. You’re renting time, not the entire kitchen. These locations are typically open for 24 hours a day, and house janitorial staff to keep things clean and running well. 

Shared kitchens generally possess a wider range of equipment to accommodate the various types of eateries that might be seeking their services. 

Private are the near inverse. You’ll get the privacy and control of the space you desire, but it comes at a higher rent cost, and generally needing to provide any niche or hyper-specific equipment you may need. 

 

Who Benefits from A Commissary Kitchen?

The truth is, almost any restaurant can benefit. Excellent examples include: 

  • Catering Companies and Event Planners
  • Food Trucks
  • Pop-Up Stops
  • Ghost/Virtual Only Kitchens
  • Restaurants filling many needs (kiosks AND cafes AND catering)

The long and short of is that almost everyone can succeed in a commissary kitchen. Like most things, it’s all going to depend on how well you integrate it into your restaurant’s setup.

 

Pros of Commissary Kitchens 

Flexibility

The flexibility of commissary kitchens can’t be beat. Before, upcoming restaurants would need access to an entire building to access commercial-grade kitchens. But with commissary kitchens, there is a lower financial barrier for entry. 

Renting options are also varied and can often be tailored to fit your needs— there are often hourly, monthly, or membership rental plans. 

Increased Workspace

Much like renting a home can generally get you a slightly nicer place than you could afford to buy. Using a commissary kitchen can allow you increased space for your cooking needs. Properly used, this can be a huge efficiency boost in how much food you’re able to prep per hour. 

Niche and Specialty Equipment

Kitchen equipment isn’t cheap. Similar to how people pay gym memberships for access to tools they don’t have, commissary kitchens often offer more niche tools that are as invaluable as they are expensive. 

Added Storage Options

You may be starting to notice a trend on the benefits of commissary kitchens— on top of the increased workspace, and special equipment, some commissary kitchens also offer additional storage options. This is an incredible perk for any restaurant that offers seasonal items, rotating menus, or just loves to decorate. 

Central Location 

Commissary kitchens are often located in central parts of town, which can provide a notable benefit to those whose locations often change (catering, food trucks, etc.) Having a central base to work out of can mean the difference between your warming containers arriving hot vs. lukewarm. 

Connecting With Local Community

This is by far one of the most underrated resources that commissary kitchens provide. The people you meet at a commissary kitchen are people just like you— facing the same challenges, working within the same industry. If you’re willing, you can make meaningful and lasting connections within the community. 



Cons of Commissary Kitchen

You Get What’s There

The commissary kitchen giveth, and the commissary kitchen taketh. While it is a clear upgrade to have access to the swathes of equipment a commissary kitchen might provide, you will run into cases where it’s not perfect and won’t have everything you need; this will happen much more often as you dive into more niche needs. 

Sharing is Caring

Privacy concerns and sharing the space are one of the things you’ll combat in a commissary kitchen. However, this one has a much higher variance depending on what kitchen you rent through. Some only allow one rentor at a time, so you may never run into this at all. In other kitchens, this will be your chief complaint. 

Tied to this is the need for scheduling. Scheduling is as much a part of the food industry as serving food is. If your commissary kitchen is one of the ones that shares spaces, you’ll have to navigate making sure that you have access to your kitchen when you need it. 

Suffering From Success

The best case scenario is that you eventually grow too big for a commissary kitchen. Generally all success brings some degree of change and growth, so this con isn’t totally unexpected, but worth mentioning nonetheless. 

Multiple Locations

Your storefront, foodtruck, or catering event are not going to be in the same place as your kitchen. Managing both locations will take higher levels of organization to direct efficiently. 

 

Commissary Kitchens, POS Systems, and You

Commissary Kitchens can provide a lot of success to restaurants, but require a lot more organization as a whole. One way to aid this is to simplify the programs that operate with your POS system. 

Take online ordering for example. Most places have separate services for delivery, loyalty memberships, and managing online orders. These extra interactions are costing you extra time and money, two things that are extremely valuable for all restaurants, but especially those using rented kitchens. 

Enter all-in-one systems (coincidentally a service we provide 😇.) You have all the tools you need to run a successful restaurant in one place, allowing you more time to focus on your kitchen, your customers, and your food. Running a virtual kitchen? Awesome! Allow us to help you shift your 3rd party delivery to 1st party and start turning more of that gross income into net profits. Have the best food truck in town? Keep your customers coming back for more with an engaging loyalty program that helps keep people invested in their customer journey. 

 

Get Cookin’

Commissary kitchens are an excellent way to bridge the gap between starting out and being an established business. Curious where to start looking? Consider sites like The Kitchen Door, which help match restaurant owners with licensed, commercial kitchens near you! 

 

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