Our Ultimate Guide to Renting a Commercial Kitchen

Our Ultimate Guide to Renting a Commercial Kitchen

Whether you’re a newbie to the food industry or had a business for a while but this is your first time dipping your toes into the world of kitchen rental, it’s tricky to know where to start; that’s where our ultimate guide to renting a commercial kitchen can help.

Licensed commercial kitchens can be used as a long or short term solution for catering demands of all kinds, but there is a lot to consider…

In this guide we’ll cover costs, kitchen types, service users, design and more, so you will make the right decision for your business when renting a kitchen space.

What are the Different Types of Commercial Kitchens?

A lot of people are surprised to hear that renting a commercial kitchen isn’t a one-size-fits-all format. The first thing to note when looking for a kitchen to rent is the different types of units that are available, what is the primary purpose of each and which is most suited to your business operation. 

The three main types of kitchen spaces are:

Catering Kitchens

The two main purposes of catering kitchens are for food delivery and as a CPU. While they are often used as a delivery only kitchen, they are more commonly used by larger chain restaurants with a physical storefront who want to consolidate all of their food production into one single kitchen.

Central Production Units

Unlike dark and catering kitchens, central production units aren’t usually used to produce food on a delivery only basis. Central production units provide one kitchen space for restaurants to carry out food preparation and cooking, ready to be served in multiple locations.

Food businesses choose CPU’s because it’s easier to keep the food quality consistent, it saves money on using multiple kitchens and generally a smoother operation all-around is easier from a consolidated kitchen space.

Dark Kitchens

Dark kitchens, also known as delivery only kitchens, enhance the way delivery only food traders are able to produce and sell their food. The concept allows food vendors to cook up a storm and sell food for delivery only on apps such as Deliveroo, UberEats and Just Eat; rather than having a dine-in option for customers.

Businesses Using Commercial Kitchen Facilities

The versatility of all commercial kitchen types – dark, catering or central production – means that the spaces can be adapted and used by industry ventures at any point in their journey. 

Regardless of production size, operational preferences or method of delivery, kitchen solutions simplify the process for all kinds of vendors. 

A small glimpse into a few of the food entrepreneurs renting commercial kitchens for their day to day operations include;

  • Street food vendors or food truck owners
  • Local coffee shops and cafes 
  • Bakers 
  • Takeaway only vendors
  • Catering companies
  • Pop-up restaurants
  • Large restaurant chains
  • Food development teams

What Should Be Included in Your Kitchen Hire?

Every food vendor is different and each business requires its own specialist equipment, so it’s difficult for service providers to offer this as part of their contract. 

The beauty of having a completely blank space to work with, is that you are free to mould a fully practical and productive kitchen environment inline with your production. 

When you are free to choose your appliance, kitchen equipment and even the design and layout of your kitchen, you are not left with wasted space – every square foot is exactly how you want it and you don’t pay for goods you can’t use.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t receive a state of the art cooking space!

Although you need to provide your own apparatus with a kitchen hire service, there are some features to look out for that, in our opinion, sets a quality commercial kitchen rental apart from any other.

Before you sign on the dotted line, check if you will be provided with some added extras included in the cost of renting a commercial kitchen:

  • Hygienic surfaces, walls and floors
  • Inbuilt ventilation
  • Commercial grade drainage
  • Customisable kitchen layouts
  • Cleaning or waste collection
  • Easy access to cold storage units
  • Liability insurance
  • 24 Hour Access – who knows when you’ll need to get cooking!

Kit Out Your Kitchen; Work Out What You Need

Every food vendor has a different set of requirements when it comes to commercial kitchen equipment. 

If you have been in the business for years, you probably know exactly what you need for a productive and successful day in the kitchen, but if this is your first venture you might be slightly unaware or worried about forgetting something vital. 

To ignite some ideas for your kitchen planning and so you hopefully don’t overlook anything, here’s a list of some essential pieces of commercial kitchen equipment that you might need:

  • Fridges – Counter fridge, upright cabinet or a walk-in cold room 
  • Freezers – Chest freezer, under counter, counter or freezer rooms
  • Prepping tables complete with colour coded chopping boards
  • Oven – Gas, electric or combi
  • Fryers – free standing or countertop
  • Commercial Microwave – domestic microwaves are not durable enough
  • Dishwasher or large sink space if preferred

If you are still unsure of what you need or how to fit it into your space, ask a kitchen designer for advice or seek the opinions of your head chef, business partners or experienced chefs operating in a similar field. 

Contract Lengths for Renting a Commercial Kitchen

It goes without saying that a pop-up restaurant may need a kitchen space for a much shorter time than a restaurant chain renting a central production unit. 

When on your hunt to find a commercial kitchen, the length of time you need to use the space for will probably be one of your biggest deciding factors. If you need to rent a commercial kitchen for a day only, you will avoid kitchens with a minimum contract length.

Also, if you expect your business circumstances to change, keep an eye out for flexible contracts or contracts with the option to switch to a rolling contract after an initial long or short term period. 

The length of time that you need a commercial kitchen is a good indicator of whether buying or renting commercial kitchen equipment is more beneficial.

For smaller businesses or a 3-month popup, for example, it’s common to rent kitchen equipment. However, a large catering company or corporate chain who can afford the initial outlay might find it’s more beneficial to buy kitchen equipment.

How Much Does a Commercial Kitchen Cost to Rent?

The cost of renting a commercial kitchen is open to many variables. 

The factors that will mainly influence the overall cost of a kitchen are the size of the unit, the type of kitchen – dark kitchens might be cheaper than a central production unit. 

The length of the contract might affect the cost, as well as bespoke services and your location. For example, renting a commercial kitchen in London might be more expensive than another city.

Even if the initial cost of renting a kitchen seems good on the surface, read the contract terms and conditions with a fine tooth comb. It’s quite common for kitchen providers to charge vendors a commission on every food delivery that is placed. 

Even if this is a very small percentage, over the month it can add up to quite a lot of lost profit! Something that we can proudly say we don’t do here at Dephna; your hardwork, your produce, your profit. 

The best way to guarantee a sure and accurate price is to request a quote from your chosen service provider. They can calculate commercial kitchen rental prices based on your unique circumstances and offer advice and guidance if you are unsure what sort of kitchen space you need.

Choosing a Size & Designing a Commercial Kitchen Layout

Commercial Kitchen Size

We recommend thorough business planning before choosing what size of private kitchen unit you need. Are you expecting business expansion in the near future? How much equipment do you need in your unit? How much space do your staff and production line require? 

Small businesses such as a local bakery or coffee shop will need a smaller unit than a corporate restaurant chain, while some might only need a tiny shared space with other vendors, instead of a dedicated kitchen. 

These variables should be considered when looking for a kitchen space to rent, but if you’re struggling to see how your business plan translates into a kitchen space, talk to the experts

Any reliable kitchen provider will be happy to advise you on the best kitchen size based on your current business operational level.

Commercial Kitchen Design

Similarly with kitchen design and layout, if this is your first time using a commercial kitchen space you will be entering new territory and you could end up feeling out of your depth; don’t be afraid to ask for help. Many service providers will have a team on hand ready to help you design a kitchen that enables full efficiency and practicality for your business.

Legalities, Licensing and Regulations of Renting a Kitchen

Have You Followed Commercial Kitchen Regulations?

Before set-up your new kitchen, and especially before you begin trading, you must read all of the regulations that commercial kitchen users and food businesses are required to follow. If not, you could find yourself in breach of the law!

Kitchen regulations in the UK specify how you must manage and control a number of elements including (but not limited to):

  • Waste disposal
  • Blast chilling
  • Gas safety
  • Fire safety
  • Water Regulations Advisory Scheme approval
  • Kitchen layouts
  • Keeping hot food

Food and Business Licensing Requirements

When you register as a legitimate business there will be a set of licences that apply to you, based on the size of your business, the number of staff, the food you produce and how you serve this to the public. 

Don’t panic if you’re not sure what licences apply to your business, you can find these on the government’s licence finder

Insurance Is a Must!

Kitchens are a hub of electricals, sharp objects, excessive heat, flames and so on, and while it’s rare, accidents and incidents do unfortunately happen. If you are running a commercial kitchen, it goes without saying that you must take out a liability insurance policy to protect your business, equipment and staff. 

Want to keep up-to-date with some food industry hacks and tips? Check out the latest in our Kitchen Talk; hearing the best advice from some passionate foodies.

Alternatively, if you’re ready to fire up your business and take your food production to the next level, get in touch today and we’ll have you cooking up a treat in no time!

Dephna  photo
by Dephna

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