If you operate a food truck, it is really helpful to have a permanent kitchen where you can do the majority of your cooking and prep. Such a kitchen is known as a commissary kitchen. Most food truck owners find a restaurant or catering kitchen that they can pay to use off-hours. You may see ads for such opportunities on social media or even in the newspaper. Here are some questions to ask as you start calling about these commissaries.
How much space is there?
Some commissaries may be full restaurant kitchens being offered for use on days the restaurant is closed, or after their operating hours. Others may be smaller prep kitchens that multiple food trucks use. How much space you need will depend on how much business you do and what kinds of foods you serve. However, it is good to know how much space to expect before you go looking at a commissary. You don't want to show up and find a little galley kitchen if you were expecting a full-size, multi-station space.
Can you store your own equipment there?
Some commissaries will give you a space to store things like your knives, prep containers, and cleaning products. Others will provide the basics but expect you to take anything else you bring with you away at the end of your cooking time. If you have a lot of specialized equipment you use to prep your food, look for a commissary that will allow you to keep it there. This will save you a lot of time.
Will you need to get a separate permit?
In most municipalities, all kitchens used for food service have to be permitted by the health department. In some areas, you may also need a separate permit to operate out of the commissary. Check whether the commissary is properly permitted and also what will be required of you in terms of permitting.
Who handles cleaning?
You'll generally be expected to clean up after each time you use the commissary. But someone will have to handle the deeper cleaning, such as cleaning the vent hoods and fryers. Ask whether this responsibility is shared between commissary users, or whether there is a service that comes to clean the hoods. A clean kitchen is important for everyone.
Asking the questions above will help you get a better idea of whether a specific commissary meets your needs before you go look at it.