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Building Space for a Caterer's Kitchen--HOW BIG and WHAT STUFF?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hello.  I am a property owner that is renovating an old cotton mill.  I am building a cool special events space in one part of the property for traditional special events space use.  I have space to build out what I am calling a 'caterer's kitchen'.  I know that I have to comply with all local codes and will do so, that's not the issue or concern, we can work around all of those.  Bigger question is this:

 

How big does it need to be?

 

What equipment/stations do I need to install?  (VS what stuff will an OFF SITE caterer bring with them)

 

I envision that this kitchen will be used by caterers that come in and prepare their food OFF SITE and then finish prep, heat, etc etc onsite for serving.

 

I would love it if EVENTUALLY I could plan on converting the space to ALSO be able to be an ON SITE cooking kitchen for events, but I recognize that the space limitations may not allow that, and if so, no biggie.

 

Right now I have a space set aside that is approximately 26 feet by 18.5 feet wide or approx. 480 sq ft. for the caterer's kitchen.    I can go a little bit wider, but not deeper.  There will be 2 nice in/out door openings, so access is easy.  Also it has dock height load in space for the inbound caterer.

 

So I'm looking for expert advice.

Is the space I have set aside big enough or even close?

What do i need to install NOW for an incoming caterer to have a good experience prepping/serving the event with their OFFSITE prepared food.

What do i need to install if MAYBE down the road it could convert to ON SITE cooking kitchen?

 

The special events room is 6,500 sq ft so it can seat 200-250 for sit down dinner and hold 400+ for a stand up hor douvers event.

 

Any help much appreciated.

 

Also looking for someone to design the kitchen layout and can/will pay for such professional services.

 

Please let me know!  Throwing up walls next week come hell or high water because we are already pre-booked for Summer Wedding events!

 

Thanks,

 

Paul Rosenthal

post #2 of 23

First it's not so much how big as how the space is arranged. The commercial kitchen I cook out of (which I helped designed and did all the finish work in) is less than you described, about 18 ft x 20, yet has all the esssentials.
Sure you would need someone to draw up plans to be approved, but if properly designed, you can do some amazing volume from incredibly small spaces. I can effectively cater a party of several hundred from that small kitchen, which has all the basic ammenities:
 
Double stacked convection gas ovens
6-burner vulcan gas range/oven
36 inch gas salamander broiler
24 inch gas grill
Double stacked mini pizza ovens

(All this resides under an 11 ft stainless exhaust hood)

20 ft of stainless steel prep tables
(2) microwave ovens
3 compartment sink
Food prep sink
Hand sink
Floor level mop sink
48" reach in fridge
48" reach in freezer
(6) 48 in racks for dry storage


As to your space, are we talking about 4 walls? Full walls, half walls? open areas?
Basically, there are 4 major areas to address in any commercial kitchen:


1) The sweat line, i.e. cook line
2) Prep area
3)Refrigeration/freezing/dry storage
4) Sanitation


Some of it's personal preference of course but I would consider the basics for transient caterers:
Range/oven, Full oven, Microwave, Fridge, freezer.
(With things like a gas grill, griddle, fryer, broiler, etc being optional equipment.)

Stainless steel prep tables
Outlets for mixers, food processors etc.
Storage shelves or pantry
3 compartment sink
Hand wash sink
Food prep sink

 

That's all bare bones equipment: Caterers can be expected to bring all their own "loose-ware" like pots pans, utinsels, knives, mixing bowls,  cutting boards, small appliances, etc.
(You can also provide this stuff but be prepared for some of it to "walk off" little by little)

 

In the end, you'll just have to see what designs your planner/architect comes up in accordance with your city/county's codes with and go from there......

 

-M

post #3 of 23

Counter space!

 

Triple sink

 

Counter space!

 

Rolling work tables

 

Counter space!

 

Electrical outlets, 110v/220v

 

Counter space!

 

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #4 of 23

First consider budget. Do you want new or used equipment.? Big price difference. An off premise caterer needs an attached huge storage are for equipment and truck. Everything should be mobile(on wheels for ease of moving and cleaning) Plenty of speed rax and sheet pans and 1/2 sheets.Heaters( mobile electric. the line away from wall prep on one side(rear) of line service on the other.(front) at least  a 6x6 freezer and 6x10 walkin fridge to do it right .If limited space these can be put outside of building Since you will also be doing and renting on premise you need a dish machine and pot  sink area.. Drains on floor so the entire place can be hosed, pressure or steamed down.  There are many factors to consider the main thing should be designing for overall effeciency and traffic flow.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #5 of 23

ditto mucho counter space

ovens, convection would be great

walk in fridge if there's space ..... fridge over freezer any day......

 

dishwasher would be great, but not necessary

 

Stove is bonus, most of the time we're just glad to see ovens/fridge.

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 23

Refrigeration.

 

Not only for cooking but for beer and wine.  8' x8' would be nice, but smaller would work. If you want stand up single or double door units, remember, booze and or pop/juice will take up one, food another. A single door upright is all you need for freezer space--you'll only really need it for storing ice and the occasional frozen dessert .  

 

Floors.

 

Smooth and level.  Level from the parking/loading area to the kitchen, and from the kitchen to the dining room. Ramps are O.K. and doors must be a min. of 30"  Not only for cooks and food, but for rentals like tables and chairs, dance floors DJ booths, etc.

 

Dishwashing.  You will make good easy money with day time conferences and meetings, and you will need coffee service for this.  If you buy your own coffee stuff, you will pay for it after the first 2 or three events.  Makes good sense to have a dishwasher--at least a hi-temp under counter jobbie

 

Ovens.  Convection ovens are work horses and catering demands work horses.  Double stacking would be deluxe, at least one full sized convection a must

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #7 of 23

Mushroom Girl,  this man is also talking about doing events on premise, so I believe a stove of some type is a must.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #8 of 23

I would suggest a decent ice maker as opposed to the freezer. that is, is you are going to concentrate on off site caterers coming in...

good luck

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 

Wow everyone.  This is ALL some GREAT input and advice.  I am very much appreciative.  I will be finalizing my plans this week as to walls and will have about 2-3 weeks to finalize the MEP plans (plumbing and gas lines) so I will be putting this input to great use.  Very much appreciate the outpouring of advice.

 

THANKS!

 

Paul

 

post #10 of 23

nope Ed, he said for offsite with option of changing later to onsite......it's unusual to walk into a venue that has more than just fridges....ovens are awesome, stove is just gravy! 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 

as for drinks and all.  I have an additional area of about 12 ft x 10 ft , next to the kitchen, set aside for a drink staging area that will have a full sized ice maker and probably room for what I call a C-store cooler (sliding glass doors, 4 foot wide, beverage fridge) plus some tables and maybe a sink or a carbonated beverage fountain for drink service

 

as for walk in cooler/freezer, in the kitchen space now i dont have plans or capability of really doing that (plan on just doing large commercial fridge and smaller commercial freezer)  BUT later, about 100 feet away walking across the outdoor patio area of the venue, i have a nice big ancillary room that I could build-out 2 nice walk in units in, one freezer, one fridge and make them as big as needed really.  If that distance from the kitchen/venue room/serving area isnt too far enough away.

post #12 of 23

Outside caterers supply their own ice and can have it delivered and  put it in your freezer.  You should not include ice in rental to caterers. What if your machine goes down?

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #13 of 23

Most venues here in the Midwest, rent the space and keep the bar for themselves.....they typically have ice machines on premise.

non-alcohol beverages are up for grabs for the caterer.  Coffee has a great return.

*some places have their own tables/chairs.....50-50% others make the renters bring everything in.....linens are usually up to the renters.

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 23

Sure, a few ways to do it...those sponsoring the event can "rent the hall" and hire

their own  outside caterer, or one  from a lit of owner referrals, or the caterer can

provide everything under their contract, hall food, rentals et al.

 

In my experience allowing  a caterer access to your ice machicne can be a problem,

but not nearly so much with an incoming caterer as an outgoing one. (commisary use)

No reason the client can't have ice access included as a rental, or that the caterer can't

estimate what they'll need and pass the cost on to the client. It just covers the water and

wear and tear on the ice machine.

A lot of it depends on how the serve is done.

post #15 of 23

here many venues have "preferred caterers" who the customers must hire.....they pay for the privilege of being on the preferred list......usually a few thousand + a % off contracted events....many venues ask how caterers will be advertising/marketing the venue.

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 23
Before you finalize the plan, check it for flow. Others have alluded to this but no one has expanded on it. The two main issues you need to consider is flow of food and dishes. Take a pencil draw a line that follows the path of the food from the backdoor to storage, to prep, to cooking, to plate up, to the guests. Try to make each path as short as possible without crossing itself on is way from back to front. Do the same for dishes, pots and pans, etc. from storage to, cooking, plate up, the guests, dish pit, and back to storage. Think also about the servers path for picking up the food, to the guests and back to the pit. The way your space is laid out is far more important than its size.

Thinking about where the stuff in a kitchen( and the people carrying them) is moving through the space this way will allow you to make the workspace efficient. I've seen some large well equipped kitchens that can barely handle 150 people because the layout is works against the people using it.
A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
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A person who never made a mistake, never tried anything new.  - Al E
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.  - Ben Franklin
Reply
post #17 of 23

"I've seen some large well equipped kitchens that can barely handle 150 people because the layout is works against the people using it."

 

Very true, I've worked in some of those. The best state of the art equipment doesnt do much good when the

prep cooks, servers, bussers and dishwashers are all tripping over each other, or competing for

the same access at the same time. A stainless steel nightmare.

This is why architects and contractors build expensive, but ineffcient kitchens when they don't consult with experienced cooks.

post #18 of 23

In the 60s I did the opening Of the Loews New Americana Hotel in New York. The desighners screwed it up so bad , that it had to close a month later to rearrange the whole kitchen. It was a total fiasco and a lesson in stupidity and bad planning, Example 5 steam kettles in a row for soup kithen in basement but no drain on the floor, When dishwasher cleaned kettles they had to carry the wash and rinse  water  over to the sink which was quite far away.  Ever see stainless steel start to rust in 2 weeks? It did there. This is only tip of iceburg. Banquet facility Ballroom could accomidate 1000 but only haf 550 chairs? When there was a party all chairs from every other part of hotel even coffee shop had to be schlepped to banquet room.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meezenplaz View Post

"This is why architects and contractors build expensive, but ineffcient kitchens when they don't consult with experienced cooks.



Architects don't design kitchens, and contractor's shouldn't.

 

Usually it's the food equipment guys who design, or the owners.  The food equip. guy's reputation rests on their design, so they rarely screw up.  When the owner/accountatnt starts cuting costs and stcking his/her nose in there without anyone with cooking experience's input, that's when stuff happensed

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #20 of 23

From "don't" to "usually". I'll agree with the usually, differ with the don't.

 

Correction: That's why WHEN architects and/or contractors try to design

kitchens without consulting with experienced cooks, they end up expensive

and inefficient.

We all have different experiences, that's what makes us...well, different. smile.gif

post #21 of 23

Both my bro and his wife are Artichokes (aka Architects), most of his friends are as well.  If designing a kitchen is in the contract, they will farm it out to a kitchen designer, who, in turn, farms out the ventilation system to a mech. engineer.

 

Artichokes have no idea that cooler doors swing out instead of in, that a/c condensate needs to go into the grease trap and d/washing water by-pass the grease trap, that there MUST be a washroom within 5o ft of the prep area, etc. etc..  Besides, they don't have all those little 1/25 scale symbols for mixers, ranges, and fryers on their c.a.d programs that they need for the required drawings to give to the health boys and the boys at city hall.chef.gif

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
Reply
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #22 of 23

I've helped consult on a few kitchens.....one was a combo catering-teaching kitchen with classes being geared towards kids.  Each use needed different elements. Different equipment was needed for each.....there were several equipment designers presenting ideas, it was very obvious which one knew what they were doing....well thought out.

 

home kitchens that had microwaves over the stove.....just a friggin' accident waiting to happen, pulling boiling hot shtuff out over your head.  Lack of counter space by the ovens....lack of counter space period.....  Dead space not utilized.   Or overcrowding.....space can make an appealing place.  You can just look at sample kitchens and see which are easier to clean, which have flow....

 

 

 

 

cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #23 of 23

This is a potential business I have looked into for myself and I have a few links you can check out.  Surprisingly, there are very few in the immediate NYC area that are fully devoted to renting commercial kitchen space, though many are renting out kitchens during off hours. 

 

The equipment choices seem great in both.   The more flexible rental schedule of the busy Mamaroneck one seems something to look at, as well.

 

 

Underutilized, government sponsored one:

 

http://urbanhorizons.blogspot.com/

 

Successful private enterprise, often fully booked:

 

http://www.cookandbakecenter.com/home.html

 

 

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