Using Church Kitchens Questions

Business By mommabuda Updated 12 Feb 2010 , 1:56pm by indydebi

mommabuda Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 2:12pm
post #1 of 15

I have an appointment to view a church kitchen and ask questions on Thursday. I eventually want to add onto my house but it's not going to happen this year so I might as well try to get some business another way. How does this work? Anyone else use church kitchens? Can you bake & decorate there and then bring the cake home to keep it there until you have to take it to the wedding/party? Are you considered a business still even though I wouldn't have my own kitchen? I would assume so but I wasn't sure... Anyone have any experiences they could share with me? Thanks!!!

14 replies
Jeannem Posted 9 Feb 2010 , 3:14pm
post #2 of 15

Don't know about WI laws, but most church kitchens are not "up to code" for commercial use. You'd have to check with the health department to see if they'd approve it.

mommabuda Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 4:57pm
post #3 of 15

The kitchen we would add onto our house wouldn't be a "commercial" kitchen either. They don't require the commercial equipment (except for a 3 basin sink & refrigerator) if you're only doing small business (not retail bakery/wholesales).

ColeAlayne Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 5:05pm
post #4 of 15

I was just thinking of doing the same thing. Did the church seem open to this? How much would they ask for rent? I beleive all your work has to remain there in order for everything to be up to code, but I'm not sure.

mommabuda Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 5:09pm
post #5 of 15

I'll find out tomorrow what they charge. Even if it's up to $10 an hour, it would be worth it for the business I suppose. I'm not sure on storing there though (if they have room).

ColeAlayne Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 5:24pm
post #6 of 15

It would be a little inconvenient to haul your supplies back and forth but like you said, it may be worth it for the extra business you could generate.

mkolmar Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 6:53pm
post #7 of 15

When I rented from a church kitchen I brought the kitchen up to code. It was almost there but I bought just the needed small items like the strips to test the sanitized water, hand towel dispenser, soap dispenser, thermometers for the fridge/freezer/oven. I also scrubbed the heck out of everything for over 3 days and re-organized the entire kitchen as well as side room for them. They were really happy because the layout made more sense then.
When I used the kitchen I had to load everything up to take there to use and load it back up to take home. It was a pain but I'd rather have it that way then have items turn up missing. People often will barrow something from there church and then forget to take it back right away or who they got it from (think of all the people who do because of family baby showers/birthdays/anniversaries/ family reunions) I didn't want any of my items up for grab so to speak. A large tote was the easiest way for some items. The kitchen I rented was in a basement so think of all of those stairs to lug things up and down. Look at the layout and the local of the kitchen for this reason. If your lucky they might let you bring in a large locker and put your items in there. Make sure it stays locked though and isn't open to anyone.
If they only charge you $10 an hour to rent that is a very reasonable price. Just make sure you can cover all expenses and that everything is in writing when you do a contract with the church, and yes make sure you do one. Will you have to pay part of the electric/gas? How busy will you be, will this conflict with their planned church events/services? Will clients pick up there or will you deliver? Those are a few questions that need to be answered before starting as you don't want to hit any snags down the road.
I found out the hard way to do some of the advice I'm giving. If you have any more questions feel free to ask me. If I can help I will.
Renting from someone can be complicated at times so just prepare in case and hopefully it won't happen.

mommabuda Posted 10 Feb 2010 , 7:56pm
post #8 of 15

Thanks for bringing up great things to ask! I never thought of a lot of those. How much was it for you to rent if you don't mind me asking? I really have no idea so I was just guessing... I've never even been to this church so I have no idea where the kitchen is located.

mkolmar Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 1:53am
post #9 of 15

I didn't really have a set in stone per hour rate, they didn't want to give me one. I really wish they would have. It would have made things less complicated! I paid more some weeks than I did other weeks though.
I was a member of the church and that's why they didn't want to have me at a set rate. They were trying to be nice but it actually made it more complicated on my end, especially for book keeping. I paid a certain percentage each week when I used the kitchen. Roughly around $15 per hour. (I think, I'd have to go back to my records somewhere in the house and find out). I also made cakes for functions whenever they needed them, this also cost me money. However, I was using there facility to be licensed so no big deal.
The problem came later on when something happened and I decided to calmly and quietly leave the church. It didn't involve me, but I did not care for the way things were handled. When I left the church I also gave up the licensed kitchen. Not fun, but I knew the choice I had to make and a licensed kitchen wasn't worth it. People found out why I left and some were kind but most were not. I was expecting for someone to try to turn me in to HD for illegal baking. However, I completely shut down all operations and ended the business after I left the church. I talked to my HD inspector and told him I would no longer be using that local and I would be done as a business. Such a nice man, tried helping me find another local even but it was too far away and too pricey at $20 per hour by the time I added the hour commute each way. He was just glad I called and told him.
That was probably way more info than you wanted but my point to anyone else reading this is to use a church that you do not belong to. You never know what can happen and it's better to not go through what I did.

JulieMN Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 2:20am
post #10 of 15

You brought up some good points for consideration...thanks for sharing your experience!

gmorriello Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 2:52am
post #11 of 15

so much to take into consideration....thanks everyone for sharing your experiences so openly! It really gives insight and helps you to consider many different things... who thought there could be so much attached to decorating cakes:0)

indydebi Posted 11 Feb 2010 , 3:16am
post #12 of 15
Originally Posted by Jeannem

Don't know about WI laws, but most church kitchens are not "up to code" for commercial use. You'd have to check with the health department to see if they'd approve it.

I have a caterer friend who uses a church kitchen. The kitchen was not health dept approved but the HD came in to inspect it for HER use; to make sure she had all of the equipment she would need to properly run a catering biz. So even if the kitchen isn't currently HD approved, doesn't mean it can't be for your use. thumbs_up.gif

mommabuda Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 2:31am
post #13 of 15

The meeting went great... I really liked the kitchen "managers"... it was a husband/wife team and they got involved with the church because of the same reason I want to (needing a separate kitchen for a catering business). As for a set amount, he couldn't give me one either... he said they like to charge around $50-$75 per use BUT if I were just doing one cake, it wouldn't pay. He wants to try to accomodate me as much as possible so he's going to bring it up to the board to figure out a way they can do it. I would also get a key to the building so I could go there even at 3am if I wanted to use the kitchen. It has been inspected already, it's all stainless steel with the hood and all... it passed inspection but I would need to have it inspected again to do my cakes (no worries though). I would also need to get insurance (anyone know how that works? About how much I would be looking at?) I also need to take a food safety course which is cheap and easy to do (can even do it online!) and I would have to put some sort of deposit down (easy enough).

The great thing is that the pastor would be willing to help advertise me for weddings that they would hold in the church and the wife said she works at a popular hotel in town here and she could advertise as well for wedding sthat are held there. I let them see my book of cake pictures and they got pretty excited after that. So far this sounds great but I don't think anything will really happen till summertime. I'm so glad I met some nice people for a change willing to help me out in this!

jewelsq Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 1:07pm
post #14 of 15

Something to think about: Your busiest season (holidays) are also their busiest season (holy days).

What happens when Mrs. Jones is hosting the Bible study party and you have a big cake to get out? Who gets to use the kitchen?

Be prepared to share with a big family (especially if there's already a caterer in there.)

indydebi Posted 12 Feb 2010 , 1:56pm
post #15 of 15
Originally Posted by jewelsq

Something to think about: Your busiest season (holidays) are also their busiest season (holy days).

Good point. My caterer friend had that with the use of her church kitchen also. they gave her the dates the kitchen would not be available to her (months in advance) and she scheduled her bookings around those dates. Like they always did a big breakfast on a certain day of the year for their church members, so they knew a year ahead of time what day she couldnt' use their kitchen.

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