Finding a Commissary or Commercial Kitchen for your Food Truck

Finding a Commissary or Commercial Kitchen for your Food Truck

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One of the first steps that many food truck owners need to follow through with once they have a started researching for their future rolling business is to find a commissary or commercial kitchen for their truck to call home. Most municipalities throughout the country require that a mobile food unit be parked at as well as their food storage to be handled by a state licensed commercial kitchen. In addition to this, in the few cities where cooking is not allowed on the truck, the cooking and packaging of the food must also take place at your commissary.

commercial-kitchen

Just as your vehicle is required to maintain local health standards, these commercial kitchens must also follow these rules. Please note that if a commercial kitchen loses its certification from the city or state, your truck will be grounded until the kitchen makes the needed corrections, or you find a new home for your truck.

Finding a commercial kitchen that works for you is an integral part of bringing your gourmet mobile food to life. The location, type and size of your commercial kitchen will determine a lot of aspects of your business, including the type of dishes you can make, the capacity of events you can handle and where they can be located. When looking for a commissary or commercial kitchen, you can direct your search by the type of food you want to make and the scale of your operation.

Here are some kitchen options:

Shared Commercial Kitchen

For most new food truck owners, a shared commercial kitchen is the most viable option. A shared-use kitchen is leased out to multiple caterers or chefs at once. It is a group kitchen for foodservice professionals. Because you share the lease with other businesses, you will save a lot of money like this, but if you and a co-renter want to schedule the space at the same time, you can have problems.

Private Commercial Kitchen

Leasing out your own private commercial kitchen space is the best option for a food truck business with large-scale aspirations. The benefits to having your own kitchen are endless. You do not have to worry about kitchen availability, and you can purchase or lease your own equipment to ensure that you have everything you need to execute your menu on a large scale. If your space has a front of the house, you can also offer followers a tasting straight from your kitchen. Even better, if things go well you can expand your carry-out and pick-up services, or start selling some of your signature items retail.

Restaurant Kitchen

Many food truck owners have found that renting out a restaurant kitchen during hours when the restaurant is closed is the most viable option for them. You will save money by leasing a space that would otherwise go unused during those hours. Furthermore, you will know exactly when you can use the kitchen and when you cannot, avoiding the scheduling issues that can occur with a shared-lease kitchen.

Other Options

Schools, churches, and even the local VFW or Elk’s Club may have health inspected and certified commercial kitchen which can be rented, or even in some cases used as long as you sign an agreement to cater events for these organization as a means of payment or donation.

Once you know what kind of kitchen you want, you can start shopping around to find the best pricing and amenities for your commercial kitchen. One great tip to follow is to speak with other local food truck operators to find out which commissary or commercial kitchen they use. Some may, or may not suggest using their current kitchen, but at least you can find out the current rates in your area. Your local health department can provide you with a list of the registered commercial kitchens in your area as well, some municipalities have even started providing these lists from their websites.

If you have any additional tips or suggestions to finding a commissary or commercial kitchen, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.

 

57 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the article. Does anyone know of which foods are allowed and not allowed to be cooked on premise in truck in DC/Northern VA?

    • In shared kitchens there are usually rental areas within their storage, pantry, refrigeration and freezer sections, or some will include storage in your monthly rent. This allows a food truck owner to have deliveries made to their kitchen so they can get some bulk discounts.

        • The rent usually varies based on the services provided. Those that offer commercial kitchen usually charge an hour rate. In regards to whether a cart needs to stay over night is determined by local laws or regulations.

    • The state of Alabama requires you to store your products and supplies in the same (certified) location you are renting/borrowing to prepare your food.

  2. In Norwalk,CT Ringside Grill food Truck on Eversley avenue near cityhall off of exit 16 I-95 they have an all American menu sabbrett hotdog, hamburger,buffalo wings, Philly cheese steak, fries, onion rings, and R.I. ‘s hot weiners with coffee milk.

  3. in nyc , it,s required by new york city , but never enforced ,most food in food truck are prepared home , and most trucks are washed in the street or never washed at all.
    in fact , studied has been conducted to compared visitors of food trucks to approved commissary , and it was shocking, only 1300 vendors out of 4000 visited commissary daily..

    • See, thats what worries me. Unless you prepare all ingredients from scratch, why would a Hot Dog cart need a commissary? Hotdog? no! Sauerkraut? No! Ketchup, Mustard, Relish? No! Buns? No!
      Some of the rules are good, but others just make it harder for people to be in business.

      • You are right. I have been operating a successful hotdog cart for seven years without a commissary with no problems. I run a very clean cart and have two refrigerators and a freezer all backed up by a generator in case of a power outage. I steam my dogs, heat precooked Italian sausage and pastrami and now the town I work in hired their fourth health inspector that has decided to enforce the commissary thing which only adds to my day . I think they can carry this whole thing too far. I have a great reputation.

        • Be aware your own “personal” opinions of heath safety are good for you but not the public, cross contamination and lack of through steam cleaning can harbor vectors for issues no one needs. be considerate of the folks that don’t deserve food poisoning etc. The reputation of us all is affected as the “roach coach” image is still here. It’s better to be claener than needed than a problem I’m sure you have a good rep now but it only takes one incident to spoil it. And we all suffer. Thanks and good luck!

  4. I’ve compiled a small but growing list of websites for finding commissaries. On some you can search by state, and others are local sites. To see this list, please visit my site (it’s for Italian ice vendors, but anyone can use the commissary search info.):

  5. so if the local vfw has a commercial kitchen is that where i could store the truck people tell me it has to be at a commisary is that the same?

    • Every municipality is different. Check with your local license group to find out your options. The biggest restriction in most cities is that you cannot park in a residential area.

  6. We have a commissary out in Durham, NC… feel free to contact us if you have questions about starting your own commissary or if you know someone who needs one! Also, any sites out there that list commissaries, feel free to add us! Thanks!

    • That is very kind of you to offer info about the Commisary issue. I have a business fabricating food trucks, buying and selling used equipment, and equipment installation. We have a real need for a Commisary and it would go right along with our business. Any info you can give us on opening one would be so helpful. Maybe any major hurdles or unforseen problems. Idea of how your operation works. I am possibly starting a food truck for a gentleman in Durham soon. Any help would be greatly appreciated,and anything we can do to return the favor just let me know. Thanks

  7. Found commissary in delaware called delaware shared kitchen great place to start. Now i can start up my new food trailer be in southern delaware

    • Need a commissary to get my food cart up + running. Having a hard time finding commissary if u can help wit a commissary I would appreciate that.

    • I’m looking to get into the food truck business in the Dover de area any suggestions on where to buy a truck and equipment? Thanks.

  8. I live in NY and looking for a commissary in Brooklyn; does anyone know one that is certified and can store, prepare and park.

  9. Hello,

    I have a small hot dog cart and a commissary, but does anybody know if I can get a certificate to store the cart at my own house? Anybody had that thought or experience?

  10. How much rent should you pay a commissary?? and how does this work i have a hot dog cart in Detroit, and im trying to find one, also do you leave your cart over night????

  11. I am in need of a commissary in Lake Charles, Louisiana. This is the hold up for me to receive my certification from the Health Department, but there are none that I can find…PLEASE HELP!

  12. Hi! I am have a hot dog cart and need a commissary in Fort Lauderdale! Can anyone help me. Thanks for your help!

  13. I’m thinking of starting a commercially shared kitchen in maryland right outside washington dc, would like to see if there’s any mobile/food truck/caterers interested in using such a kitchen…thanks!

  14. Why is a commissary required if all food service is done on the truck and the truck has to meet all food service requirements including potable water, waste water, and three-compartment sinks? What is the purpose of a sink if I have to use a commissary which will have a three-compartment sink in which to wash my utensils? I planned to design my vehicle of meet all my needs but now I find out that I have to rent a commissary facility.

    • Trucks need a through steam cleaning daily, recharege batteries, supplies, get repairs”if needed” your crew or self is often very tired after a long day and may miss or skip areas or duties needed to prevent food bourne illnesses, better to be safe than … Also be aware that some folks just don’t clean and would let their unit get very very nasty. this evens the playing field and keeps all our reputations intact.

  15. I have a commissary kitchen in Vancouver, WA. that I rent by the hour. We have space for food carts, cooks, & caterers.

  16. Chaz Powers..i’m a food truck vendor interested in a commercially shared kitchen in maryland. I am in the waldorf area. Where would your kitchen be located?

  17. Iam starting a food truck in the washington area and I am looking for a commissary facility can
    anyone give me some information on some locations.

  18. Looking for a commissary in Orlando, FL. to start a shaved ice truck. Any contacts would be greatly appreciated.

  19. Check us out in Greenville, SC!!! We are a new shared kitchen space for rent…Naked Kitchen. The goal of Naked Kitchen is to provide a quality commercial kitchen for rent to culinary entrepreneurs. The Naked Kitchen is an affordable, ideal solution for its members as compared to the complexities, time, and expense of owning or renting a kitchen of their own full time.

    The Naked Kitchen is commercially equipped and properly permitted by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SC DOA), and City of Greenville.

    The kitchen is open 24 hours a day and may be reserved by the hour, day, or week on a first-come first-serve basis. Contact us, if you’d like to get your business operating from our kitchen, and we’ll provide guidance to help your start-up go as smoothly as possible.

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