Posted by Patrick Maness
While it’s common for community commercial kitchens to include a variety of utensils and cooking accessories for clients to use, it isn’t always the case.
Many have a “bring your own utensils/accessories” policy, and for good reason. It’s easy for people to misplace items, for example, which costs you money and creates a huge inconvenience to other clients who have come to rely on using these items.
On the other hand, providing a selection of essential items can allow more people and more small businesses — especially those without much capital or equipment — the chance to take full advantage of a community kitchen. This helps promote a sense of community and opportunity.
Whether you will provide utensils is an important consideration. We've already mentioned the major objection, but hypothetically, let’s say you want to provide a variety of utensils. How can you do this, and how can you ensure you do it right?
What to provide — a starter’s guide
Short of creating an exhaustive list of what you should have in stock, restrict yourself to goods that are durable, essential and big. This means things like pots, pans, baking sheets that can get banged up, and pretty much whatever's needed to do any kind of basic cooking. In addition, think of stocking large equipment that clients might not have the space to store or the capital to buy.
It may be more difficult to decide which, if any, electronic equipment you want to supply. Though many would consider blenders and food processors essential, they are expensive, easier to break and can have a short lifespan in commercial community kitchens. It’s important, then, to invest in industrial-grade equipment that comes with a good warranty, and to have a back-up available in case anything goes wrong.
One final note: make sure to clearly mark everything. People make mistakes and it’s easy for someone to walk away with a steam pan or spatula. In most cases a magic marker works fine. For metal objects like pots, though, you can scratch the name of the kitchen onto the side.
Because everyone must work together to maintain a clean kitchen, you’ll need to continually stock cleaning products such as garbage bags, dish soap, sponges, scrubbers, floor-cleaning equipment and anything else needed for complying with local health codes and your own standards.
In addition, it’s likely you will contract with a cleaning service to maintain a fresh supplies of towels.
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