I have recently decided to "down tools" while I look for a licensed kitchen space so I can get legit.
In that regard, I would love to hear stories from people who have made the transition from working under the radar, to sharing space with another business. In particular, how did you make your approach? What worked for you? How many places did you contact before you found 'the one'? What would you do differently if you had to do it again? (Is it ok to bring samples, and how would you do that?)
Thank you all in advance!
AWe looked at two shared commercial kitchens (in the San Jose, CA area, kitchens only with no storefront) and rented one for a year or so before we signed on with a new shared kitchen run by a baker instead of a caterer, the new kitchen was much easier to work in.
I'm not sure why you would bring samples of your work, this is more about you interviewing the kitchen owner instead of the other way around. As long as there is available space, you clean up after yourself, and your check clears the kitchen owner shouldn't have a problem.
I think the OP means working in someone elses kitchen..........not a kitchen set up as a "shared" kitchen, no?
I have experience doing both.
The first place I contacted said yes, it was a coffee shop. Eventually it didn't work out because they had too many employees and no one training them or watching over them. They'd ruin my product, eat it, mis-speak info. to clients, etc... I wound up needing to be there every second of every shift to supervise their employees so they didn't ruin my reputation.
For two business to work under the same roof it requires both business owners to actively participate daily to make this work. Plus each needs to be open minded and a great communicator. The business owners I dealt with knew nothing about correct food handling, didn't actively manage their staff, and didn't work themselves. They talked a good talk but didn't do anything....we had different work ethics and different ideas of what was clean. The few times they did carry through with what I asked, would get screwed up through the multiple of people transferring the information.
Renting time in a commercial kitchen has different issues.
AWorking in another business's commercial kitchen (as opposed to a kitchen set up for sharing) would require either a very good relationship with the owner and all employees, or separate locking dry storage/fridge/freezer space with a restricted baking schedule.
You've got that RIGHT!
No matter how good your relationship is with the owner, they aren't there all the time. The biggest problem becomes dealing with their employees. Some are respectful and follow directions, some don't/won't.
Just a small example, I had my ingredients separated from the base businesses, but when something ran out for the base business....their employees helped themselves to everything and anything I owned. I sort of couldn't blame them because the owner didn't give them the supplies they needed..........but I couldn't afford to pay for their supplies too.
And every time you try to correct a small problem by talking to the owner or managers my message would get warped. Every single day there were multiple things that needed 'correction'. It got frustrating trying to communicate and fix problems, it felt like all I did was complain. Then the owners and manager don't want to come near you because they'll be asked to fix a problem. It was easier to leave then to try and fix things. You can only fix yourself, not others.
If the base business doesn't have a lot of employees, or doesn't have a constant change over of employees you could make this work. I couldn't with a constant changing stream of young untrained employees. I spent too much time trying to fix problems with their business so it didn't leave me any time to build my business.
DON"T EVEN CONSIDER SHARING A KITCHEN !!! Run as fast as you can the other way !!!
It was the worst experience of my life. It turns out that I teamed up with the baker from hell.
The bakery was not even open to begin with. It was in a building that had been used for several restraurants before, but hadn't been used for quite a few years. There was a huge amount of renovations needed. I was working on renovations also & often painting till 2 or 3 in the morning. I was told to make sure & keep my hours (which I did) & I would get paid for my work (which I didn't).
I was given certain shelves in the frig. to use for my ingredients. I would come & there were missing items. Some days I would come in to the bakery & find that my shelves were filled with their items. I went in on different occasions to find that the commercial freezer was locked & I had a cake in there, that I needed to get out, to work on for a deadline.
They told me at the outset that they were by no means planning on decorating cakes. I was to be doing all the cakes & cupcakes, to be sold in the bakery. I went in one day to find a bright pink printed page taped on the door, advertizing custom cakes, no advance notice needed.
In the end they refused to pay me for most of the time, I put in on the renovation & painting. They started making horrible cakes & cupcakes. There were people asking if I had made the cupcakes. When I said no, they said they didn't think so. I had to get away from those people to save my reputation & my sanity.
The old saying 'Too many cooks spoil the broth' is totally the truth.
To begin with, sharing a bakery sounded like a dream come true...instead it turned out to be a nightmare from hell.
I am right close to getting my home licensed, so I can advertize.
I feel so much better & much more creative.
Ha, had a similar thing happen with me. The Friday before Easter (I was already over booked and freaking out) with-out asking me, they posted tents on all the tables and a sign by the cash register that I was taking custom orders for Easter. I already was too busy to take phone calls, I had to handle the craziest requests and politely blow people off making my day even more crazed.
They went out and bought blank sales pads for their coffee kids to take cake orders for me.........um, no thanks!
With-out my permission they sent out a press release. Including information I didn't want disclosed yet. And now every time anyone goggle searches my business their dam n press release comes up telling everyone I'm providing baked goods at their shop. I want to SCREAM it makes me soooo mad!
They kept doing crazy things like that, as if they owned my business. When all I wanted to do was rent their kitchen space.
the planets have to align just right
mine orbit feebly then lock onto zero to sixty full tilt boogie collision course ;)
and my deal breaker thought was always what if they din pay their taxes
and i show up on saturday morning to the door being padlocked
i din wanna be a debbie downer but i think it makes a difficult situation impossible most of the time
gotta kiss a lotta warty freakin toads
AThank you for all of the responses, it has certainly given me a lot to think about. I actually had a catering company respond to my email yesterday, and they want to meet with me. They are a family owned and run business, and they are closed during the hours I want to use the kitchen. I have set up a meeting for February 10, to see what we can work out. In my case, working from home is not an option, we live in a rental house so I can't renovate to meet city standards. I will at least go talk to them, and having your good and bad experiences in my back pocket, will help me be very cautious.
good that they will be out of the building when you work
the heat/humidty they can generate from cooking/washing dishes can make it harder to ice
so that's a plus
AHaving a contract that clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities of all parties, expected service levels (e.g. availability and cleanliness of workspace and storage space), and the consequences for the lack of said service levels is a must.
AThat is a very good point Jason. I'm very fortunate in that regard, my husband is a lawyer. The biggest thing I have to get through right now is the meeting on the 10th. I'm hoping with my fingers crossed that I like them and they like me.
AI worked out of a caterer's kitchen for a little while and they would be closed when I worked, and I had my own little corner of the dungeon to work out of, but then I would have to cart I arou d in a huge circle to get my pans in and out of the oven. It was better than being at home, illegal. But the reason I quit working in there is because I would come in and the floor would be littered with cigarette ashes, and dog hair. They lived above the place, and I lived across the street, while my mom was down the street behind them, so I kept an eye out and saw the owner walking the dog out of the kitchen, with a lit cigarette hanging out of his mouth! Yuck!
Something I forgot to mention was that she (the baker from hell) decided to have the Grand Opening, before the renovations were finished.
I had only 3-4 days to get some business cards printed. Both her new husband & I were very ticked off. She had her opening alright, but it sure was not grand. I live in a small town of 3,500 people & she owns the only bakery in town.