Due to local laws and regulations, most mobile food vendors are required to be registered with a food truck commissary. Think of a food truck commissary as your truck’s home base. When your truck isn’t out serving the public, it’s at a commissary. A commissary is a convenient location for preparing and storing food, storing and cleaning your truck, and in some cases even performing maintenance.
Finding the right commissary is an integral part of creating a successful mobile food business. A full-service commissary will help enhance your truck’s profitability. It will also address the challenges of providing safe, delicious food to your customers.
Food Truck Commissary Cost
The cost of renting space at a food truck commissary can vary greatly depending on your location. Most shared use kitchens are fairly affordable, with most commissaries offering an hourly rate between $15 – $30 per hour.
Pricing is affected by location, storage and the kitchen equipment available. New vendors can expect to pay anywhere from $250-750 a month. In regions where food truck commissaries are at a premium, you may see rates as high as $1000-1500.
you are allowed, by law, to prep food your truck. Because of this you may not need to use commercial kitchen space at the commissary. Consider this before you lock into a long term commissary contract.
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Four Food Truck Commissary Options
There are several options for vendors looking for a food truck commissary. Find one that matches your kitchen needs and budget.
Shared Use Commercial Kitchen
For most new food truck owners, a shared use commercial kitchen is the most viable option for your food truck commissary. 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. You may run into problems if you and a co-renter want to schedule the space at the same time.
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.
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.
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. Look for the best pricing and amenities for your commercial kitchen.
One great tip to follow is to speak with other local food truck operators. They can tell you 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.
Food Truck Supplier Directory: Find or place an ad for a commissary.
What To Look For When Inspecting A Food Truck Commissary
- Location. This is where you and your team will spend the bulk of the time you spend outside of your truck. It is ultimately where you and your staff commute to so you may want it closer to home or closer to where you operate.
- Parking. Find a food truck commissary where you can park your truck when it is not in operation. If you operate in colder regions of the country, you may be able to find indoor parking to help keep your truck out of the elements.
- Storage. A good commissary will provide some sort of storage to allow you to keep dry, refrigerated and frozen items in storage when not in your truck.
- Equipment. Many food truck menus have items that need to be prepared outside of the truck. Make sure your food truck commissary has this equipment on-site.
- Cleanliness. Your truck is tied directly to your commissary. If it gets shut down due to health violations, you risk having your food truck business closed until those violations are corrected.
PLEASE NOTE. Before you start looking for a food truck commissary in your area, you’ll need to research your local food truck laws. Find out whether or not you’re required to work from a commissary. Also ask if there are any additional licenses or health code requirements you’ll need to follow to use a commercial kitchen.
The Bottom Line
From hot dog carts to full sized trucks, all mobile vendors need a food truck commissary to operate legally in most parts of the country. We hope this article helps new vendors understand their importance and how to find a commissary in your area, even if it needs to be in a non-traditional venue.