Commercial Cattering Kitchens For Those Without A Kitchen
Many people have the talent, big ideas, and motivation to start their own business. What they lack in funding at the beginning of their venture does not have to stop them from making their dreams come true.
Even if people who watch too much Shark Tank or spend too much time reading about crowdfunding are bothering you about raising money for your business, you do not have to wait. Instead, take your ideas for your very own catering company, and start making money off of them today.
Maybe you are a talented line cook who has worked his or her way up through a restaurant. You are building on your own years spent working as a server in catering, and feel like you are ready to strike out on your own. After all, every time you go out to dinner with your restaurant friends, in the wee hours of the night, they ask you about your aspirations.
You may have even started selling your cakes to locals restaurants here and there. It has become busy enough that you know you need to start renting kitchen space. Beyond that, the business from friends who DJ weddings have drummed up for you is enough to keep you busy catering and baking.
Rather than invest in your own building and commercial kitchen, you can rent them. That way, you have several pros without all the risk and financial expense.
For one, you can rent by the hour, rent space for storage, have a place for goods to be delivered, and get to learn about different commercial equipment. You will also have the advantage of forging a relationship with the owner and operators of the commercial kitchen. Maybe when it is time to go off on your own and buy your own building, you may hire them as consultants or enlist their help in designing your own commercial cattering kitchen.
Home Chefs Turned Caterers
If you are like many people, a great home cook, take heed. You may want to invest a bit of time working in a restaurant kitchen before quitting your day job and sending all of your savings into a catering venture. Here’s why.
Large-scale, commercial cooking is a very different beast than home cooking. It is more frantic, more precision oriented, and in general a lot of work. It is hard work and for many home cooks so different that they do not like retail cooking.
Learning the operation of a restaurant kitchen will help make your own catering efforts more efficient. Now, more on why you need a commercial kitchen hire.
Local And State Health Regulations Call For Professional Kitchens
You may find you like working in restaurants. At the least you will get the information you need about operating a kitchen, from ordering and storing food to garde manger, cooking to cleaning.
Many aspiring caterers have the same question: Can I cook at home? You could, but then you would be breaking a lot of rules, laws, regulations that oversee food preparation. No, you cannot cook food at home in your own kitchen and bring it to the wedding, sweet sixteen, bar/ba mitzvah, or graduation party.
The costs to own and operate a commercial kitchen are exorbitant especially if you want to have a financial cushion while you are in the early days of your business. It’s partly a product of the costs of commercial freezers, refrigerators, exhaust hoods, grease traps, grease hauling, dumpsters, stoves, and ovens.
The other part is building to suit the commercial kitchen to meet all of the myriad regulations from the local and state authorities. Between building permits, inspections to when you make a little mistake that leads to a $20,000 fine, to everything in between, it costs a lot of money. Time is also a factor.
If you need to start making money instead of bleeding it, you will have to wait a long time while you choose a building, sign a contract to buy or lease, convert the area into a commercial kitchen, and make it through the permit and approval process. It could be months or years of sitting on the sidelines waiting to cook to make money as a caterer.
Catering Kitchen Options
Some caterers live in more rural areas where they may have to rent out a commercial kitchen from a local church, restaurant, or university. For those fortunate enough to live close to a commercial kitchen facility that’s rented out to the food service industry, you are in luck.
These kitchens are often equipped with some of the best equipment. The basic plus is that you can rent the time you need without having to worry about affording overhead for years at a time. And, you will not have to work around the local church or temple’s own schedule of services and events either.
One other inherent plus side to renting is that you get to keep your business events separate from your personal and religious life. The other is that aside from having modern equipment, you might have more modular equipment on castors. It means you can quickly rearrange much of the kitchen to how you work.
Finding Culinary Incubators Or Commercial Kitchens
Many companies have these commercial kitchens or culinary incubators available at very reasonable hourly rates to foster the growth of small businesses with big dreams. The owners do this as a service to the rest of the food industry, which saves the fledgling caterers from accidentally hitting financial landmines such as the $20,000 fines that set them back 6 months from their original grand opening date.
Even if you are a caterer who becomes well-loved within a specific region, you may be able to travel to different areas of your state, rent space at local kitchens to prepare meals for events. You get to expand the people you deliver your services to without having to cover the overhead of a commercial kitchen.
Coordinating Catering Events And Commercial Kitchens
In catering, the phrase you can’t take it with you has no place. Caterers have to be ready to take everything with them, from glassware to dishes to silverware, and food.
So, when they have to pack up their dishware, utensils, and then prepare food at another location, it involves even more careful coordination and attention to detail than usual. Fortunately, those who choose to cater, are usually more well-organized and detail-driven than the rest of the industry.
Though, one of the added steps when using a commercial kitchen is food storage and transportation. They may be able to bring along a stove or heating elements in addition to Sterno to keep food warm. It depends on the event, logistics involved how the food will be stored and heated on site.
Part of the event will focus on ensuring there are sufficient supplies, food prepared and brought to the event. The other part of the equation is the people. Having enough hands to load and unload trucks, to coordinate service, to serve food, to prep and clean up are all part of the caterer’s many responsibilities.
The idea is to keep the show running smoothly so that the clients never have any idea how much effort, work, or near-misses there may have been getting the food to the tables. Hiring and building relationships with experienced restaurant and catering workers is very important. That way, even if your whole planned crew get sick and cannot make it, you always have back up support to make a seamless presentation of great food for different events.
ERP Software And Processes
Another way to make a catering business successfully running smoothly while maintaining efficiency and time management is to employ ERP software and processes. ERP stands for enterprise resource planning.
While you are still in the early stages of the business and as your company grows, ERP is essential to successful operation at events and for food ordering.
The way this works is to provide integrated applications that help manage a business. It makes it so that office work is less hands on and automated for everything from onboarding, time sheets to technology. Use online timeclock software to allow servers and the crew to input their time, which helps automate bookkeeping as well.
Combine this with using commercial kitchens and your company will be a lean and mean well-running machine, even without over-extending yourself financially. It is early on decisions such as these that form good habits for a future of financial success. That way, when the time comes, you can focus on investing your money in ways that help your business make more money.
You may even find one day that you might like to own your own culinary incubator, or commercial kitchen, which you can use for your catering, while renting out another part to other small businesses. Even more than that, you could add in plans to have banquet halls, meeting space, and even an auditorium so that you can stay on-site to cater events and rent out space. Think of all that your catering business can do for you in the future.