Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

martin0642

Commercial kitchen hire (or other ideas?)

Recommended Posts

Hi all - I was wondering if anyone here had any experiences that could be useful....

 

Myself and a friend (I'm a chocolatier, he's a baker) are looking to set up together. The dominant idea is to start our own cafe; which will also double as a production site for our respective businesses. (We have other people interested in joining in with this to make something more than just a cafe...however that may not happen for a bunch of tiresome logistical reasons).

 

We have little capital to start with but neither of us needs much more equipment than we have right now (we're both home producers) - what we do need, is a suitable space to work in. Summer is NOT the time to be making chocolate or sourdough bread that requires long proving times. Our kitchen requirements are just abotu identical so it makes sense to join forces. 

 

What I'm struggling with is finding a suitable space - we're looking at existing cafe units, retail units we may be able to convert etc etc. However - we may have to shelve the cafe idea and just find somewhere to have a production space...........which is where this post is laboriously going...

 

What I'd like to know is has anyone here either hired kitchen space (we're based in Manchester and Liverpool so up north-west ideally!) and if so what their experience was - or set up a production only kitchen somewhere; and if so how did you do it? 

 

I've seen the ready made kitchen pods from (I think) pkl but I was wondering what other options there are for renting commercial/industrial space and setting up a kitchen space.

 

Anyone? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you looked at whatever shared kitchens or commissaries there may be in your area?  Here in Seattle i was in a shared kitchen run by another pastry chef.  It was very clean and well organized with about 15 different companies sharing 5 work stations.  There was separate refrigeration for savory and sweet companies, which I really appreciated, and everyone scheduled their hours so there would be no overlap on each station.  Any time you have shared space there is going to be a bit of the tragedy of the commons, and the larger catering companies did tend to monopolize the dish are a after events.  Sadly, that space got sold and the new owners weren't interested in that level of organization.

 

I've since moved into the kitchen of a restaurant for whom I used to work.  It works OK, I just try to get in early and make chocolate while its cool, but I wish they'd organize better, by which I mean listen to me when I tel them how nice my previous commissary was xD  Their catering cook acts like the other companies are in his way and doesn't seem to understand that the priorities of the owner-operators are different from the guy getting paid to dick around making hummus.

 

So that might not be very helpful, I'm just saying that while renting kitchen space is far easier and cheaper than building out your own, make sure the other tenants are compatible.  Will you have time to make chocolate when other people aren't in there with all the ovens on high, or the flattops and fryers, or huge kettles of jam?  Can you negotiate enough space for all the bread?  How are work areas and times managed?  How is the ventilation, and will you have refrigeration for your sweet ingredients that won't be tainted with onions or other savory smells?  We have two different regulatory agencies, the county for restaurants and caterers, and the state dept of agriculture for wholesale producers.  They have different standards, so make sure whichever kitchen you find has already been approved by whichever agency will be signing off on your permits.  Each company is usually inspected separately, but for example the restaurant I'm in has always passed county inspections, but a company that moved in and needed the state inspection had a much harder time meeting their standards.

 

good luck!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

HI pastrygirl - sorry it's taken a whlie to reply...and thank you :)

 

Sadly that shared kitchen space just doesn't seem to exist much over here. You can find it in London but other areas are lacking. There was a company running a shared kitchen space in Manchester and one in Liverpool...both companies ceased those operations due to lack  of uptake. Small catering businesses..especially chocolate...are not well catered for (no pun intended) over here. 

 

So we're now looking at a range of options...all of which require capital we don't have right now but we're working on that too..... the search continues :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's too bad.  Is there a chance to use a restaurant kitchen in their off hours?  Some dinner-only places don't start work until around noon, if there are any you are friendly with or convenient to, consider making them an offer to use their kitchen in the morning hours.  Or a coffee shop that is closed in the evenings (though there may not be much in the way of kitchen equipment in your typical espresso place) .  Many kitchen don't have much extra space for storage, but it could be worth a look.  Good luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Or try places that have a kitchen for their own use, such as a church or banquet facility amd approach them about renting their space.  Here in the US we have lots of function halls that are run by VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars), Knights of Columbus, and other social groups that have kitchens that are idle when there is no function.  (Some halls offer lunch service but most have bars and a limited pub menu for their members and a larger space for social gatherings with the kitchen.)  I don't know if you have the same licensing issues that we have here in the US, with a Board of Health to inspect and issue permits to operate a food business; and a Planning or Building Inspector that issues permits for businesses... that sort of thing.... but that's also a possible source for places that might be willing to rent out space.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THat's an interesting idea Jeanne.... and Pastrygirl... the restaurant option is tricky here but worth looking into - and yes there would be issues with health permits - I would have to have the kitchen re-inspected with my stuff in it to show I have processes to avioid cross contamination etc.

 

Hmm. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, martin0642 said:

- I would have to have the kitchen re-inspected with my stuff in it to show I have processes to avioid cross contamination etc

 

That is standard procedure for shared kitchens here. It's partly about the facility and partly about what you're doing in it so each company is inspected separately. Plus, we have three levels of risk, I'm approved for moderate level which means I use eggs and cream, the higher level is for cooking meat and comes with a higher fee. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, AnythingButPlainChocolate said:

As an aside, be wary not to get any of the bread yeast into your chocolate otherwise your shelf-life will be shot!

 

 

Haha!! Yeah....that would be extremely unfortunate! However we'll be working at different times and we're both pretty ocd abotu keeping things separate :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, andiesenji said:

I asked a friend who used to live in Manchester.  She said to contact Nationwide Caterers Association. 

http://www.ncass.org.uk/suppliers-area/supplier-search/supplier-profiles/commercial-kitchen-spaces

 

THank you for this - I have looked around that site but there doesn't seem to be any in Manchester. The one place that did do it has closed because there wasn't enough demand apparently.

 

Hopefully I will have a space in Liverpool soon via the shared bakery space.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×