Cooking everything in your food truck can be a problem, and prepping everything at home probably isn’t ideal.
In this article, I’ll cover commissary kitchens and how you can use them to your advantage.
What is a Commissary Kitchen?
A commissary kitchen is a place where food service companies can go to prepare and store their food. Commissary kitchens come fully prepped with all the equipment that you could require to prepare your food. Of course, there are some that have more and better equipment, but usually, these come at a higher price.
Types of Commissary Kitchens
There are four different types of commissary kitchens. All of these options stand up to food standards so choosing the right one comes down to your needs and wallet.
Private Commissary Kitchen
Private Commissary kitchens are the most expensive of the four but for good reason. These allow you to work alone in a full kitchen environment. Most of them also have dedicated fridges for each of their users. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about most of the cleaning, as this is done for you. Unfortunately, all of this luxury comes at a very high expense and would probably make your food truck considerably less profitable.
Shared kitchens are very similar to private kitchens. The main difference is that you work alongside other foodservice people at the same time therefore it becomes cheaper. This does mean that you have work around each other, which can be a hassle. On the upside, it gives you the opportunity to make new friends, learn new recipes, and improve your menu (unless your competition is using the same kitchen).
Many restaurants don’t use their kitchens in the mornings, and some even at lunchtime. Therefore, you can make a deal with restaurants to use their kitchens in their off-time. This is a great option for restaurants as they’ll be making money from essentially nothing. For you, it does have the downside that you will need to do the cleaning yourself and meet the restaurant’s standards. Additionally, many restaurants are unaware of this option, so you might have to reach out to them personally to negotiate a deal.
The last option might sound weird but can actually be the cheapest: using locations that have kitchens with small footfall. This includes everything from schools, churches, retirement homes, and even prisons. These places are usually government-owned and hence can be used extremely cheaply and are guaranteed to meet all food health and safety standards. Unfortunately, if you’re preparing specialty food this can be an issue as most likely they won’t have any special equipment such as a sous vide.
Why Use Commissary Kitchens
So now that I’ve covered what commissary kitchens are, and the different types, it’s time to discuss why you should use them.
If your commissary kitchen is close to your food truck location you can make excess food and take a short break to restock from it. Thereby you can serve more food in a day and make more money.
If you use a dedicated commissary kitchen then you’ll have access to some great equipment. Therefore, depending on what food your serving, you might be able to prepare some of your food in advance. Thereby, you won’t need as much equipment in your food truck which gives you more space to utilize to make more profit.
Some commissary kitchens will provide special amenities for your food truck, such as water and grease disposal, which are essential for meeting health code regulations.
To sum up, a commissary kitchen can be highly beneficial. To find out if it’s worth it for you will entirely depend on your food truck and business model. Have an ask around, see how much it costs, what you have to gain, and if it’s more profitable in the long run. It’s as “simple as that”.