Opening a Commercial Kitchen for Rent
Our blog tends to focus on those seeking to rent a commercial kitchen, but here’s a switch: what if you want to open your own commercial kitchen for rent?
In researching this topic, I found very little clear-cut information. No one has broken this down into, “10 Easy Steps to Opening a Rental Kitchen.” Using Los Angeles as a test market, I found bits and pieces of information on the County’s environmental health website, but nothing comprehensive. I also found a number of articles that addressed various aspects of the process. Here are a few things to think about if you’re considering this endeavor:
Licenses and Identification: This is something you can do while you’re working out all the trickier details. Your rental kitchen business will need a business license from the city where you plan to operate and most likely a DBA/ Fictitious Business Name registration from the county. Consult your accountant about tax issues and whether your business needs a federal tax ID number.
Finding a facility: This depends on what’s available in your target area. Think about startup expenses versus long-term expenses. You could find an industrial space and install a new commercial kitchen—the advantage here is that rent in industrial spaces tends to be cheap—but you’ll have to pay for all of your systems and equipment. Or you could find an established commercial kitchen, like a vacant restaurant space, and retrofit it as a rental kitchen—the advantage to this plan is that some of the very expensive systems and equipment may already be in place. By the way: the kitchen in your home cannot be rented out as a commercial kitchen, unless you have a separate kitchen available–one that you don’t use for personal cooking–that you can outfit to meet commercial standards. And even then, zoning laws in your city may permit a commercial operation from your home.
Permits and codes: Here’s where it gets tricky. Commercial food operations are regulated much more stringently than other businesses. You’ll have building codes, health department codes and fire codes to comply with. Pay a visit to your city office and tell them what you’re trying to do BEFORE you begin so that you can collect information from all the agencies involved. You’ll have to pass inspections before you can open for business, so it’s critical that you know what’s required before you begin setting up your kitchen.
Equipment and systems for your kitchen: when you plan to outfit your kitchen, consider what is required by commercial codes as well as industry standards and your competition. Some of the standard items include:
- Ventilation–hoods , fans, etc.
- Fire safety–sprinklers, extinguishers, evacuation plan
- Sanitation- dishwashers, waste and grease containment and disposal
- Food storage: freezer, refrigerated and dry storage
- Cooking equipment–stoves, ovens, smaller appliances
- Food prep stations and equipment, like commercial mixers
- Small equipment, like pots, pans, bowls and cooking tools
- First aid supplies
Facility/ amenities: what will your clients need while they work? Restrooms and parking requirements will be dictated by your city’s building/planning codes, but consider internet access, seating areas, presentation areas—none of these are mandatory, but a could help differentiate your kitchen as a comfortable or value-added choice.
Administrative concerns: Do you need an office? How will you coordinate schedules? How will you bill and collect rent? How will you market your kitchen? Where will you store paperwork? Depending on how you conduct your business, you may need additional space or supplies to address administrative concerns.
When your kitchen is ready for business, remember that CookItHere.com can help you find clients and help potential clients find you.