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Finding a church kitchen to rent / Health code / Health inspection

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello, I am new to Chef Talk and I am starting a small catering business and need some advice about renting a church kitchen in the Richmond Va. area. I am not having much luck and may need to look into renting a small building which would be more expensive. also need advice on health inspections to make sure the kitchen is up to code. Not sure how to get that info.

Any help on this would be very much appreciated.

post #2 of 11

Renting a church kitchen seems like a no brainer for a caterer, to the point that it's almost surprising that all churches and caterers aren't involved in symbiotic relationships.  Since the world isn't arranged that way, you've got to figure there are [gasp] reasons


In most localities the practice is prohibited by relevant health departments, which is not a good thing for you.  And, there are often problems for the church with the IRS and/or insurance as well.  These complications may partly explain why you can't find a willing church. 


"Usually" and "can be" don't necessarily apply to your location and situation.  If you find a willing church, check with the relevant health department(s) -- city, county and state -- and see what kind of answers you get. 


In the meantime, you may want to call other local caterers to (a) see what they do; and (b) inquire about sharing their space.


There are all sorts of contingencies which might make building a license-able kitchen on your land make sense.  However, usually, assuming you have reasonable expectations of an ongoing, profitable business, it makes better financial sense to start with a lease.  It's a nice write-off, easy to figure; and if you change your mind you're not stuck with a facility.  If you don't already have an accountant who can advise you about this you're probably not at the point where building your own kitchen makes any sort of sense at all.



post #3 of 11

HI Dan, The best thing to do is, contact the HD in your county, every County has different rules and regulations. The HD will be able to give you a few ideas on whats available in their jurisdiction. You may also want to look into your own catering trailer, Chefbuba, a Chef on this site has a mobile food trailer he uses for daily retail food sales and catering. The Chef has a Mobile operation that any caterer would love to have. I'm sure if he sees this post he will post pictures of his operation..............take care................ChefBillyB

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thank you BDL and ChefBillyB for all the useful information. I feel like I am a few steps closer...cant wait. 

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

I finally found a church kitchen I can use to start my catering business. What do I need to have before I call for an inspection? I have not cleaned or brought any of my supplies there as of yet. I heard that you need to already have a menu to show them what you will be preparing?

Thanks in advance.

post #6 of 11

Hey Dan, In most cases the Church Kitchen should already be approved my the HD. You may want to give them a call and ask. The HD will worry more about how your transporting and keeping food up to temp at the function. You may also want to put the Church on your Liability Insurance .................The best of luck, I hope you do well.............ChefBillyB

post #7 of 11



Not sure where you are in this process, but I know I was not allowed to cater out of our church's beautiful $50,000 kitchen because of the liability to the church, as well as risking the tax-exempt status. Not sure if this is state to state thing. but good for you if you can!

post #8 of 11

Saw this old post and thought I would add this should it be helpful for someone out there.  I called the IRS a year or so ago and asked about the tax exempt question since all the churches I contacted to teach cooking classes told me they would love for me to do that at their kitchens but were afraid to let me because they 'might' lose their tax exempt status... the nice lady at the IRS I spoke to told me that was not the case and referred me to this document, pp 16-17... and said to just provide this to the churches to assure them they could do this w/out worry.


On health code issue... not all church kitchens are inspected/HD approved kitchens... some are, some are not.  For class purposes, I don't need HD approved kitchens, but for catering, for sure required. 


You can get your own liability insurance that will cover your kitchen use.

post #9 of 11
I'm trying to find a location to start a business cooking for children that is not to expensive. But also up to hd as well. What should I do?
post #10 of 11

Talk with your local health inspector.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #11 of 11

I run a cultural and outdoor adventure group out of Houston.  we have over 1,200 members and have been featured in Life Is Good Magazine.  Every couple of months we hold a Cultural Cooking night.  My members choose a region or country, and we get together to learn recipes from that region as well as discuss their history, culture, and religion.  About 60-70 members generally go.  We are completely non-profit.  Members each chip in $10, and every penny goes toward the supplies for the event.  I am looking for a facility to host these that has a better kitchen than what we have been using.  Can anyone help with suggesting a church facility, clubhouse, etc.?  To keep the cost at $10, the facility can't cost a fortune.  Generally these events run from 4pm-8pm or so.  Thank you for your help.



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