How do I know if my market needs a Commercial Kitchen?

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Joined Nov 30, 2016
I am researching the idea of starting a shared commercial kitchen (with the hope of turning it into an incubator as time goes by). There are none in my immediate area. I don't know if that's a good thing (untapped market) or a bad thing (not financially viable). How and where can I connect with professional chefs and bakers to see if there is a need? 
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
Welcome to Chef Talk, Laura!

You may need to troll the underbelly of the business.

Caterers working from uninspected kitchens (cause they cannot meet the standards of even the local cottage industry) are sometimes tired of having to duck the laws and praying that no one will get sick before they can save enuf $$$ for a legal kitchen.

Same with the cake ladies altho IME most will never be willing to pony up the fees you will charge (because then they would be unable to under cut the B&M bakeries).

I would start with FB and try to read between the lines and mssg those likely to be interested in coming into the light.

You would be doing your area a huge service by cleaning up even just a few of those mentioned.

mimi
 
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Joined Dec 2, 2016
I would check with your local chamber of commerce and any other community organizations as well as the city you live in to see if they have any business development programs.  In our community, they are running business boot camps and the people in charge of those camps are working with the local chamber and a "downtown growth" organization.  Those people know literally everyone that is trying to start a business or in business.  They also typically know all of the needs of those people as well.  In our community, they are super friendly and have social media pages where they are very willing to share that sort of question or idea.  So I would definitely check those places.

Pete

Head Chef and Community Blogger for:

http://champaigncatering.com
 
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Joined Mar 8, 2015
Hi Laura,

Although it may depend on what county you are in, I can tell you my Los Angeles County info. I am a Cottage Food Operation Granola company. I also own a brick and mortar bakery. Long story as to why I own both, and am paying for health permits and insurance on both. The LA county health inspector came to my home to check my kitchen and I asked her about my wish to start a shared kitchen and use it as an incubator kitchen to help others. The cost of doing it is so high that the special permit is outrageous. My B&M bakery has a permit fee of 1K to operate it as a wholesale bakery ups the fee to 2K to have a shared kitchen with multiple work stations ups it to 3K. And that is just the permit fee. The plans for the shared kitchen have to be approved by different department and there is another fee for that. So, i decided not to go forward with that idea. I'd rather invest in a vacation rental by the beach. Hope this was helpful.
 
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Joined Nov 30, 2016
This IS helpful. Thanks so much for weighing in. I'm waiting to hear back from the licensing agency here in Florida to understand costs. I hope I don't have the same challenge. Thanks so much for your feedback. 

Laura
 
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Joined Jan 18, 2019
I am researching the idea of starting a shared commercial kitchen (with the hope of turning it into an incubator as time goes by). There are none in my immediate area. I don't know if that's a good thing (untapped market) or a bad thing (not financially viable). How and where can I connect with professional chefs and bakers to see if there is a need?
Hi Laura,

I wanted to provide you with a treasure trove of resources that may be helpful to your journey.
Cheers,
Ashley
 
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Joined Jun 28, 2017
Just realized this thread is super old, but I already typed my reply, so...

Do you have any experience working in or managing a professional kitchen? A shared space/incubator gets 10x the wear and tear of a restaurant kitchen, and running one successfully ends up being all about logistics and details. Without an industry background, I think it would be extremely challenging to do well.

My business is based in an incubator, and the founder/director seems like a superhero to me. He knows literally every food person in the city and is constantly helping us find opportunities to increase our sales. He answers emails within minutes, even at 1 AM, so we never feel worried about issues with the space impacting our ability to produce. He can personally fix almost every piece of equipment in the kitchen, so the 40+ businesses that work in the kitchen don't have to put projects on hold or fight over access to working equipment. But all of those things are what it takes to create a space that really works for food businesses and attracts businesses that treat the space and each other respectfully. There are several other incubators in the city that do not do nearly as good a job, so it's definitely not an easy business.

Also, many health departments don't really understand shared kitchens and are not set up to inspect them, so definitely have a very long and extensive talk with the health department before getting started. Our health department's confusion and constantly changing policies have made life extremely difficult for some of the other business owners I know who work out of the same kitchen as my business.
 
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Joined Mar 8, 2015
Hi Laura,

I wanted to provide you with a treasure trove of resources that may be helpful to your journey.
Cheers,
Ashley
Thank you a very extensive list of sites to reference. Given the current Covid situation. I have decided to build out a cloud kitchen. Semi private shared/incubator model. Hopefully LA County sees my plans as a way to employ folks and keep a family food business alive.
 
104
35
Joined Mar 8, 2015
Just realized this thread is super old, but I already typed my reply, so...

Do you have any experience working in or managing a professional kitchen? A shared space/incubator gets 10x the wear and tear of a restaurant kitchen, and running one successfully ends up being all about logistics and details. Without an industry background, I think it would be extremely challenging to do well.

My business is based in an incubator, and the founder/director seems like a superhero to me. He knows literally every food person in the city and is constantly helping us find opportunities to increase our sales. He answers emails within minutes, even at 1 AM, so we never feel worried about issues with the space impacting our ability to produce. He can personally fix almost every piece of equipment in the kitchen, so the 40+ businesses that work in the kitchen don't have to put projects on hold or fight over access to working equipment. But all of those things are what it takes to create a space that really works for food businesses and attracts businesses that treat the space and each other respectfully. There are several other incubators in the city that do not do nearly as good a job, so it's definitely not an easy business.

Also, many health departments don't really understand shared kitchens and are not set up to inspect them, so definitely have a very long and extensive talk with the health department before getting started. Our health department's confusion and constantly changing policies have made life extremely difficult for some of the other business owners I know who work out of the same kitchen as my business.
Thank you for that information. What city are you in?
 
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