Your home kitchen is the perfect place to develop your new food business idea. There’s no cost to renting the space as you perfect your product; it’s open 24/7; and if you’re lucky, you may have a built-in audience of taste-testers in the form of family or roommates!
In fact, some start-up business owners are able to operate out of their homes for a while. But sooner or later, you may outgrow the cramped quarters of a home kitchen or need access to commercial equipment to really scale your business. Furthermore, local city or state regulations may require that you operate out of a licensed commercial kitchen in order to sell your goods. [Read more about local cottage food laws].
As necessary as it may be, figuring out how to make the leap from home to commercial kitchen can be daunting. Here we’ll look at a few ways to learn about licensed shared kitchens near you and find a space that’s right for your business.
1) Search kitchen rental platforms
As the number of food start-ups has grown in recent years, so have the spaces that cater to the chefs and bakers in need of space to run these businesses. Platforms like The Kitchen Door and Commercial Kitchens for Rent help aggregate commercially-licensed shared use kitchen spaces in states across the country. From commissary kitchens to restaurants that rent out space during off-hours, these platforms are a great place to start your search and learn what options are available in your area.
2) Reach out to local small business organizations
Your local Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or other business support agency can be a great place to learn about the resources available to you as you grow your food business. New York City’s department of Small Business Services, for example, has dedicated staff to guide businesses owners by industry with these types of queries. In many cases, these government or non-profit agencies may even partner with local incubator kitchens to offer wrap-around services like legal, accounting or HR support for your business.
3) Connect with fellow food entrepreneurs
Seek out the advice of other food entrepreneurs in your area to learn about how they found the commercial kitchen to grow their businesses. Connect IRL by chatting with vendors at your local farmers and makermarker markets, or reach out to them via social media or their business website. Don’t be shy—these business owners have been in your shoes—but remember that supporting an entrepreneur with a purchase is a great way to start the conversation and show that you value what they do!