Starting a Food Business-Renting a Commercial Kitchen

This blog really ignited my love for cooking and crafting delicious foods.  It was really easy to cook extravagant dishes when Dan was eating 6,000 calories a day.  I’d get a taste, but the rest would disappear while I was at work.  He’d go through the food faster than I could make it and so I didn’t really see any calorie issue.  Since then Dan has transitioned into a desk job and I’m now home all day with the fruits of my labor.  I still love making extravagant dishes, especially desserts but I knew my waistline wouldn’t appreciate it if I didn’t find another way to channel my dessert making.

 

I started thinking about Fluffed Up Desserts in February.  Four months later, the business launched in one of the hottest summers on record.  One of the reasons it took so long was that there was no road map on how to start a business and so I did a lot of things by trial and error.

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Maryland does not currently have a full cottage food law (as of 2012-there is a movement to get one passed).  The limited law allows for some baked goods to be made in the home and sold at Farmers Markets only.  Unfortunately, the marshmallow making process is not as familiar and since they aren’t baked in the traditional sense, the health department denied my request to operate under this exemption.

At that point I started looking for a commercial kitchen to rent and was told that I should look into churches or schools in addition to traditional rented spaces.  Unfortunately, I was not able to find a space to rent in our area and so I expanded my search to Virginia. 

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It took me almost a month and a ton of rejections to find some kitchens that were available.  I searched for bakeries/churches/schools in my area and cold called them and I also found these websites that broke down available kitchens by state.

 

Culinary Incubator

Commercial Kitchens for Rent

Rent a Commercial Kitchen

 

While not all of the information was up to date, it helped me start the process.  I started with a handful of places and did a walk through with each one. 

 

During the walk through I asked the owner about

1) monthly/weekly minimum rental requirements

2) is the space shared or all yours during that period

3) what insurance level do you require for renters

4) what materials are available for use during rental time

5) how much do you charge per hour

6) is there storage available (dry/cold/frozen) if so how much/month?

 

After the walk through I was able to make my final decision and signed an agreement with the kitchen I chose.  The kitchen that I went with required that I get liability insurance and a Northern Virginia Food Managers Certification.  I worked on both of those requirements while I initiated contact with the city of Alexandria health department.valentines day5

 

I definitely went into this process a bit blind and so, this summary is not exhaustive-are there any resources that you have used or any questions that you asked when renting a commercial kitchen?