In case you haven’t noticed, the food truck market is on the rise, which means you need to up your game. One way to get an edge is to work with a commissary kitchen.
The right commissary kitchen can mean the key to a successful food truck business – considering it offers all the benefits of having your own kitchen, without a lot of the associated overhead, paperwork, and hassle.
But what is a commissary kitchen after all? Before Covid-19, commissary kitchens were simply a place for food trucks to park overnight. Since then, they have evolved into a crucial resource for any mobile kitchen operator, as well as for other food producers. Keep reading to know know more about commissary kitchens and for tips to know how to pick the best for your business.
Table of Contents
What Is a Commissary Kitchen Nowadays?
A commissary kitchen is a licensed commercial kitchen regulated by the local health department where foodservice providers can safely and legally prepare, cook and store food and equipment.
Specifically for food trucks, a commissary kitchen offers a designated parking spot, hookups for electricity, cleaning and sanitation areas, water and propane refills, disposal facilities of greywater, grease, solid waste, recycling facilities and more.
Some commissary kitchens offer additional equipment and resources such as kitchen space to prepare food, cold storage space, an area for truck maintenance, a mailing address for inventory and ice refills.
In general, because they center around maintenance and food preparation, commissary kitchens are often thought of as the home base of various food operators, including chefs, caterers, food trucks and carts, product manufacturers, artisans and restaurateurs.
The 5 Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Commissary Kitchen
Most commissaries today need to go beyond parking and electricity if they are to attract mobile kitchen businesses. That’s why many of them now offer a complete suite of services that help food trucks grow and leverage new opportunities in the post-Covid-19 foodservice market.
From a food truck operator’s perspective, this is excellent news. The more commissary kitchens compete over food trucks, the more value and the better service they provide.
Here are some of the additional benefits you should look for in any prospective commissary kitchen partner.
Having plenty of available storage space allows food truck operators to buy ingredients and supplies in bulk, resulting in significant savings. Look for storage in the form of shelves, refrigeration space, and freezer space.
It also means more room for things that take up too much space in the food truck. These include countertop cooking equipment like grills, gas and electric ranges and charbroilers, as well as preparation supplies like cookware, spatulas, thermometers, fruit cutters, and other products.
Food trucks must have a licensed, food-safe facility where they can store supplies and food. This helps ensure they are meeting all health code requirements and keeping diners safe..
Working from a commissary kitchen also allows food trucks to avoid responsibilities of ownership. The overhead and maintenance of a building can come to more than a small food truck can afford.
By working with a commissary kitchen you pass the responsibility for fixing broken equipment, electricity, contractors, security, plumbing, maintaining licensures, pest control, building codes, specialized cleaning and much more.
3. Availability of supplies
Many commissaries offer food trucks a range of commonly used supplies and ingredients. These typically include water, ice, cleaning products, and propane.
Commissary kitchens with a commercial kitchen might also offer cooking supplies, including industrial-scale equipment and utensils, plates, napkins, gloves, and more.
More importantly, they can give you access to special equipment.
Industrial scale equipment is expensive to purchase and maintain and it takes up a lot of space. Replacing ownership with on-demand access to things like food processors, spice grinders, commercial electric ranges and more would give you a great advantage.
4. Working alongside other food truck businesses
With the boom in food delivery demand and services, the location of commissary kitchens is less critical than it used to be.
Each location has its ups and downs. Some kitchens are located close to main roads or highways, which means food trucks that use delivery would spend less time on transport.
Others are found at suburban locations or a place outside the city center, which means food trucks enjoy lower rental costs as well as access to emerging suburban markets.
What’s important about the location of the commissary kitchen is the presence of other food entrepreneurs, influencers, and operators.
Joining a professional, shared-use commercial kitchen means joining a family of chefs, food producers, caterers and other industry professionals. It’s a place where you can exchange advice with other like-minded businesses, seek guidance from industry experts and build collaborations.
5. Direct access to experienced foodservice experts
If there’s one thing that helps small businesses survive in a challenging market, it’s a supportive community.
For food truck operators, this means having access to foodservice pros who can provide guidance, industry insight, and support.
Some commissary kitchens even offer incubator programs and demo space. Look for a partner that is interested in more than renting out a kitchen space but in helping your business scale and thrive.
We Want to Know What You Think!
By telling us what you look for in a commissary kitchen you’re helping us improve our content and services and to give more value to food truck operators such as yourself. We appreciate your input and your time.