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Pt II – Choosing A Location

Commercial Kitchen Setup – Find The Location

There can be some mental hurdles to jump when trying to decide on the “perfect” location. Setting up a restaurant or cafe in area with minimal competition can be a great way to offer a new option to people with little choice. We all know a neglected suburban shopping strip that has been given a new lease thanks to some industrious little cafe that simply gave the community an opportunity to buy good coffee and they end up being the place to be. Or should you be in an area with an established customer base but are worried with so much competition if will you be able to effectively compete.

If you are looking in an area with similar establishments around, having a variety of cafes and restaurants in relatively close vicinity can help create a welcoming community environment. People will meet up to spend time in vibrant streets so your neighbours should not be seen so much as competition but as a choice for customers that helps brings them in. When designing your menu for an area like this having a particular niche in the food or service you offer is a great way to ensure the customer has a real choice and a reason to visit you. When you think of community strips like Richmond’s Victoria Street, or Carton’s Lygon Street, they have dozens of  similar restaurants within a very short distance, many with their own speciality. It’s the sense of community that becomes the attraction and brings in people far and wide allowing the entire strip to prosper. So keep your options open, try to see the advantages and disadvantages of each location and weigh them up against the type of place you envisage yours to be.

When searching you will undoubtedly look at numerous locations to find the ideal fit. At each place check what services are already connected and suitable for your requirements. Drainage, grease traps, exhaust hoods, main line natural gas and 3 phase power are some common requirements of a commercial kitchen. It can save you a lot of money on startup if you don’t need to install them yourself.

When inspecting an existing kitchen, the condition of the walls and ceilings could help indicate how adequate the ventilation was for the previous tenants. Closely inspect the walls and ceilings for any sign of moisture damage. It’s likely the premises will have been cleaned prior to your inspection but peeled paint or a greasy, sticky feel on on painted ceilings and walls can be difficult to remove so could be telltale signs the ventilation was not up to scratch and you may need to have canopies upgraded. Note down the length of any existing canopies. All large cooking appliances need to be fully under the canopy with overhang. Sometimes canopies can be modified to be extended but doing so will decrease air draw so if it is a consideration, you should seek advice from a professional canopy installer. Also keep in mind in Australia many upright hood style dishwashers need to be under a canopy to remove the steam they generate. As your wash up zone will be likely be away from the cooking zone a separate canopy may be needed. This can be over come by using a washer with a heat recovery system, they are more expensive but  you save money on installing a hood and gives you the option to easily relocate if you ever move.

Most commercial equipment is bigger and heavier than domestic models so it’s important check access for equipment. Doorways to access the kitchen should ideally be a 900mm and have enough room around them to negotiate long appliances like under bench cooling. Hopefully you have your concept menu done so you know what equipment is needed. If things look tight, confirm sizing and be sure there is an option that will be suitable to fit. There are some great compact units available that can fit practically anywhere. Ensure the appliance you need can be used with the connected services. If any of your required services are not yet installed check with the building owner to make sure they can be. Including extending or adding ventilation ducts if needed. Also confirm there is suitable rear access for deliveries and adequate area for waste disposal away from any food preparation or food storage area.

Our next blog on tips about helping making sure you meet regulations for the construction and fit out of food premises

Part III – If this is your first setup and you are doing it largely on your own, national and council regulations regarding the construction and fit out of food premises will be something you soon learn all about. Don’t fear council regulations or inspectors, they are a valuable resource in ensuring the safety of both staff and customers. They are more interested in making sure you are setup and can do things correctly than they are at fining you when you’re not. Apart from the required inspections, consult with council regularly. If you have any concerns don’t ignore it and hope for the best at inspection time. Bring it up with them to understand a solution. It lets them know you are serious about doing the right thing and you will better understand your requirements…

Pt I – Design The Menu – Know Your Needs.

Commercial Kitchen Setup – Design The Concept Menu

Obviously getting any business setup takes time, planning, money, and lots of hard work. Knowing what you plan to serve and the type of establishment you envisage will be the driving force to establishing how much needs to be spent in each aspect. If it’s your first time setting up your own establishment, let’s start by saying it will be an exciting and daunting experience. There are ways you can take some of the stress out of it and give you the confidence you are on the right track. We’ve got some tips for you to consider at the very beginning that we hope may help put some of your concerns to rest, after all, you’re not the first one to start your dream.

In order to know what equipment and space are needed, start by working out your menu. It’s a good idea to have a structured list done in a spreadsheet of all the of food you will be serving. From coffee to the turducken. Thinking of all the little things now may seem like a time-consuming process but it will help you clarify a budget and ensure you have enough of the right equipment and enough space to do what you envisage. For example, if you serve coffee you need to consider not just the space for a machine and grinder but all the requirements that go with serving coffee. How much of and where to store milk, coffee beans, ceramic cups, paper cups, sugar, napkins. You can make use of minimal space by putting some store items on display as is often the case with coffee beans. But it’s unlikely you would want your entire inventory of takeaway cups on show in the service area so you need to plan on having space to store them. Think about how many you want up front for a day or two of service and how much space you need to store a week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks  a months worth. This will also help working out the right place when you start looking, not too small that you can’t fit the stuff at your minimum requirements.

Break down the process for all the items on your concept menu for both back and front-of-house when appropriate. Write down every item you will sell, if cooking from fresh ingredients, break down the ingredients with an estimate of how much will be needed. It’s a good idea to note how important each item you list is. You may find one or two items on the menu that need an appliance that would otherwise be rarely used or takes up a lot of space so could it be removed or substituted if space is short?

… A short time later

Now you have a detailed list of all the items that need storage e.g. fridge or freezer. And equipment needed to prepare it e.g grill or fryer. In a spreadsheet, you can adjust quantities based on estimated demand and create a chart to easily visualise the percentage of space each item will take up and what equipment is getting used. If you get this list done at the very start you’ll be able to adjust quantities see how to scale your equipment needs when looking at different premises so you can take some of the guesswork out and undoubtedly prevent a plethora of unexpected issues. Don’t forget you always need to include items needed for cleaning and their safe storage.

Our next blog on tips about things to consider to help find the best location.

Trying to decide on the “perfect” location? Setting up a restaurant or cafe in area with minimal competition can be a great way to offer a new option to people with little choice. We all know a…