More and more food brands are looking for a commercial kitchen to rent following the reshaping of the restaurant industry post-pandemic. Food delivery continues to be popular, with fast delivery a key customer interest, encouraging brands to open more local locations. Innovation, particularly around sustainability and healthy foods, is also high on consumer wish-lists, creating more opportunities for new food businesses. All this growth has led to a diverse range of ways that brands are using commercial kitchens to support their business.
Here, we explain the different types of commercial kitchen.
What Is A Commercial Kitchen?
A commercial kitchen is a kitchen designed for commercial use – i.e. not for personal use. Owned, leased or rented, commercial kitchens are larger than standard kitchens and are equipped with larger appliances, such as mixers and fridges.
Often, commercial kitchens are located in residential or industrial areas or other areas far from passing foot traffic, unlike traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants which tend to be located in urban centres. Foodstars commercial kitchens are located in popular business and residential areas around major cities, like London, Birmingham and Leeds. They are often located near good transport links, with spacious parking and industrial access lifts to make moving bulk stock easier.
Types Of Commercial Kitchen
1. Delivery Kitchens
Delivery kitchens are commercial kitchens set-up for fast and effective food delivery. Foodstars’ spaces include food delivery app integration allowing brands to get all their orders through one system, helping them streamline their service and track orders and deliveries in real-time.
Unlike brick-and-mortar restaurants offering food delivery, commercial kitchens have plenty of parking for drivers and clear routes to and from the kitchen for collection, meaning food brands can get orders out faster without getting in the way of restaurant service.
Food businesses using our delivery kitchens can organise their units as they like, maximising them for preparation, cooking and packaging processes.
2. Central Production Units
Central Production Units (CPUs) are ideal for established food businesses who want to optimise the food production process before delivery to their sales location, but who don’t need a retail storefront. They are used for medium and large-scale food production, delivering to restaurants, cafes, bars and supermarkets. CPUs are well-priced commercial kitchens in accessible locations close to car and lorry transport routes.
Central Production Units are sometimes used by restaurants to increase their seating capacity. By carrying out more of the food preparation off-site and finishing off or reheating at the restaurant, they can reduce the size of their on-site kitchen and add more tables and chairs for diners.
CPUs can also function as restaurant delivery kitchens for customers who prefer to dine at home. This is a great way for food brands to diversify their income streams. Often CPUs for restaurants will have a smaller menu of items, meaning their in-person dining still comes with unique food offerings.
3. Catering Kitchens
Catering kitchens are, as the name suggests, commercial kitchens for catering companies. These food businesses use a commercial kitchen as their base of operations to prepare and pack food for events of all kinds.
Catering kitchens can be used to prepare meals for special occasions, like birthdays and weddings, or to create buffet lunches for conferences and offices, or to produce takeaway lunches for summer school programs and trips.
Commercial kitchens are a great choice for catering companies who require a large storage space for ingredients and prepared foods in an affordable location.
4. Ghost Kitchens / Virtual Kitchens
A ghost kitchen, sometimes known as a virtual kitchen, is a commercial kitchen located away from the food service location. Virtual kitchens are often used for home delivery, but also to supply food to hotels or even to nearby restaurants if their kitchen space is limited and the food prep needs to take place elsewhere.
Ghost kitchens are sometimes used as delivery hubs for food businesses that have prestigious restaurant locations but who want to a) keep the main restaurant kitchen focused on serving dine-in guests, and b) want to ensure fast local delivery. Close to popular residential areas, ghost kitchens give these businesses a virtual presence in the area – sometimes acting as a litmus test for whether a dine-in restaurant in the area would be worth opening.
5. Commissary Kitchens
Commissary kitchens are a popular choice for brands operating food trucks or kiosks. These can be small food brands setting up at festivals or chains with a presence at indoor food markets. These food brands often have limited kitchen space and need a commercial size working kitchen to store ingredients and do the majority of the food preparation and cooking ahead of sale.
Commercial kitchen-grade equipment makes cooking food in large quantities easy and means food brands don’t have to deal with cumbersome equipment at the sale location. Bulk food production like this makes commissary kitchens efficient and less wasteful.
Renting a commercial kitchen for the purpose of using it as a commissary kitchen is a good financial choice for businesses. The lower rental costs, compared to storefront locations, and built-in kitchen setup (gas, electric, etc) mean food brands can scale up their production when they aren’t yet ready to purchase a permanent space.
6. Incubator Kitchens
A version of pop-up kitchens, incubator kitchens are usually used on a short-term basis. Often incubator kitchens are used to beta test a restaurant’s menu, serving as a production kitchen for pop-up locations, such as event spaces and outdoor markets.
Incubator kitchens can also be used to develop a menu for sale via food delivery or as an experimental kitchen for chefs to work on new food products. These could be fresh food products sold to cafes or shelved products in supermarkets.
The key advantages of incubator kitchens are that they cost less than hiring a permanent space, they enable the use of high-grade equipment and they can serve as a dry-run for a restaurant kitchen without the added cost of a storefront or front-of-house staff (which aren’t needed at this early stage of food brand development).
Access to this type of commercial kitchen within the Foodstars setup also gives you the opportunity to network with similar food businesses and to find out how they use their spaces, perhaps swapping tips and tastings.