As someone who has run their own catering company for fifteen years now, I have had my fair share of experiences with setting up kitchens and managing the fallout that comes from making mistakes.
Yes, I’ll admit that freely. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes when it comes to my business, but I’ve also had a lot of successes. I believe that my successes have come from analysing my failures – and I like to say that instead of making a mistake, I learn a mistake.
So with that in mind I’d like to share my dos and don’ts for setting up a commercial kitchen, in the hope that it helps you to avoid some missteps. I won’t be sharing everything with you, because after all – some things are trade secrets, and other things you just need to figure out for yourself. I’ll be taking a look at how to get started and then covering some of my key dos and don’ts at the end. So let’s take a look!
How to get started
So you’ve taken the plunge and are getting started with setting up your own commercial restaurant kitchen. Exciting stuff. You’re facing a complex challenge but one that has that has thankfully been made a lot easier thanks to the people who have gone before you!
- My number one rule is to figure out what you’re legally required to do – so check with your local council before you do anything else. Going into the catering business is an industry governed by regulations – for good reason – so you need to be a bit of a stickler for the rules.
- Then do your research – figure out what to buy and who to buy from, and then spend a few hours online or speaking to people you trust to find out where to get the best equipment from. For anyone on the Central Coast, in Newcastle (or anywhere else in Aus, really – they ship all over) you should check out the range of Butler’s Commercial Kitchen Equipment. They also offer finance which can be really helpful for people just getting started out.
- Then make a list of your essential items. Figure out your list of essentials, but also look at your wants. If you’re opening a catering business that offers pizzas, you’ll have a different set of equipment required compared to someone offering Chinese catering. Figure out the size of everything that you need. Too big and you’re wasting energy. Too small and you’ve got a problem!
- Figure out the extra costs as well – because while it’s important to get the right equipment a lot of your costs are going to be around flooring, lighting, ventilation, sprinklers for fire fighting, and other things like that.
So – now that we have a list of basic things to cover, let’s take a look at the dos and don’ts!
- Keep an inventory for your kitchen. Know when things need to go through maintenance or to be replaced.
- Keep all of your servicing numbers in quick access.
- Make a budget component for maintenance and repair for your equipment.
- Assign and schedule cleaning and maintenance for major equipment and make sure this is kept up to date. If you don’t you’ll find that you might be liable for replacing equipment sooner rather than later.
- Don’t cut corners with your cleaning and keep plenty of supplies on hand for cleaning so that no one has an excuse
- Don’t cut corners on your equipment. You need to keep cash flowing, but cutting corners on your equipment just means replacement costs down the line. That means you need commercial microwaves – not store bought ones – because they can handle being used all day.
You will notice that not cutting corners plays a big role in this section – because it’s so important. The bottom line is to spend where you need to, and you’ll find that you’re always getting your money’s worth. Good luck with setting up your kitchen!