What is Kitchen Sharing?
You may have heard about the economic trend often called the “sharing economy.” It is the idea of using common resources among many people, usually expensive resources (like a car or a house) that instead of purchasing themselves, many individuals share for a fraction of the cost.
This sharing economy trend has now reached commercial kitchen space. And about time too, right? Restaurants can get some extra income by letting people use their kitchens during off hours, while those without a commercial kitchen can benefit from the equipment and space that they would not otherwise be able to afford.
How Kitchen Sharing Works
Kitchen sharing usually looks like this: someone goes on to a kitchen sharing website and books a commercial kitchen for an hourly fee. An arrangement is made for access (either an employee lets them in, they are given the key code, etc) and the user goes in with their own food supplies, does whatever it is they needed the kitchen for, and leaves the space and equipment exactly as they found (cleaned, equipment put back in place, etc). Ideally, the staff comes back in the next morning and would never know that the kitchen has been generating money while they were away.
Why Kitchen Sharing is Such a Great Idea
Commercial kitchen equipment can be incredibly expensive. For a bustling restaurant operating 10 hours a day the cost is no big deal, but for the individual trying to start their own catering business on the side, the cost of a full commercial kitchen is just not feasible. By paying for commercial kitchen space only as they need it, doing prep for their still infrequent catering gig is now economically feasible.
The second reason easy access to a commercial kitchen is so favorable is the ability to meet health codes. There are some very strict regulations on how food needs to be prepared to be sold commercially that usually cannot be met in a residential space. By giving anyone access to the sanitation standards of a commercial kitchen, consumers are getting safer products and small vendors are able to sell products they otherwise would not be able to.
How Restaurant Owners Benefit Too
Most restaurants are not open 24 hours a day. That means that their kitchen is often sitting empty more than 12 hours a day, so why not turn a few bucks from that empty space? With kitchen sharing, restaurant owners can now get an additional income stream with no change to their schedules or need to hire additional staff. Kitchen sharing code means leaving the space as you found it; no messes to clean up after, no supplies to put back where they belong. You would never even know someone came in and used your kitchen while you were away, yet you still get the pay out!
Who Uses Kitchen Sharing?
The Tight Budgeted
Kitchen sharing appeals to large number of small businesses, seasonal vendors, restaurants startups, caterers, and more. As mentioned before, commercial food products are subject to a number of health code regulations to be legally sold. For someone selling chocolates online, scones at the farmer’s market, or even a cupcake start-up, building a full commercial kitchen just would not make sense economically. By using a shared commercial kitchen, they can meet those regulations and benefit from the large amount of space to help their small businesses grow.
Those Who Only Need It Once in a While
Another segment of the food service industry that uses kitchen sharing are those that only need temporary or irregular access to a commercial kitchen. Possibly a caterer who only does large events every once in a while, a food truck with a big job coming up, or even a chef testing recipes for a new restaurant can benefit from commercial kitchen access at an hourly fee.
What Kitchen Sharing Means for the Rest of Us
Kitchen sharing is a just piece of the much larger trend of sharing expensive resources among many people. It enables individuals to get access to durable goods they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford, giving small businesses a way to start without a ton of up front capital. This growing trend encourages more small-business and local business start-ups.
And hey, who would say no to more options in the homemade artisanal jam sector?