Posted by Patrick Maness
Like any substantial building project, planning a community commercial kitchen requires that you spend a lot of time crunching numbers and working at the drawing board. Among the first questions you need to tackle is how large you want the facilities to be.
There is no ideal or standard size, and in many cases the size of the kitchen will be determined by the space you have to use. But whether you’re building on an empty lot or renovating old warehouse space, the following steps can help you plan a community kitchen.
Define your goals
If you’re thinking about starting a community kitchen, chances are you already have a few reasons in mind for embarking on this venture. Take pen to paper and clarify these goals so they can guide you in future planning decisions. Your specific goals should address questions such as:
Will the kitchen operate as for-profit or nonprofit?
Will it be aligned with a governmental agency?
Who do you intend to serve?
Who do you want your specific customers to be?
Do you want the space to be used for educational purposes?
A successful research campaign involves making a list of targeted clients or anyone you think might use a community kitchen. With survey in hand, you’ll want to stop by food trucks, farmer’s markets, local co-ops and anywhere else food entrepreneurs can be found. At this point, you’re not selling anything. You're merely asking them to respond to a few important questions, which should include some variation of the following:
How would you describe your business?
What would you use a commercial kitchen for?
What time(s) during the day would you generally use a commercial kitchen?
On a scale of one to five, how interested would you be in renting space in a commercial kitchen?
If your business used commercial kitchen space, how many people do you estimate would work in it at one time?
What amount of time would you need the kitchen for?
What kind of equipment do you need? What are some of the essential pieces?
What is your ideal size kitchen?
Coming up with a size
Once you’ve compiled the results of the survey onto a spreadsheet, you’ll be able to see a more concrete picture of how large, or small, you’ll want to build.
First off, estimate how many people might use the facilities. Look at the survey responses and come up with two numbers, one optimistic and one conservative. The average of these two estimates is a good number to use for estimating the number of future clients. Of course this will also help determine how much space you’ll need.
Next, figure out what size kitchen most of the people surveyed would want to use. In addition, consider how much space some of the essential items — such as stoves, ovens, kettles, mixers, etc. — might require. This will give you an idea of how large your “average” kitchen might be.
Depending on demand, you may need to build several kitchens in a single facility.
Numerous other factors will come into play, such as budget, but having clear goals and conducting careful research is essential to moving forward and laying a solid groundwork for any community kitchen.
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