The health inspector says I gotta have a commissary kitchen!
“Oh my God, Ben! I don’t even know what that is!”
Take a deep breath my friend. I get this question all the time. In fact it’s one of my top 10 questions of all time.
You can find a more in depth explanation at that link, but the short answer is that “commissary kitchen” it’s just a fancy name for a ‘commercial kitchen.’
A commercial kitchen is a place required by health departments where you can safely store and prepare food for retail consumption. That means food sold to the public.
“Are commissary kitchens required everywhere?”
In most states, yes, but it depends on what you’re serving. Some foos do not require it, like Cottage Foods. But if you’re serving hot dogs and most hot foods, you need a commissary.
How and Where Do I You Find One?
- The FREE option (my favorite).
- You can rent them. Search Google in your area for them, or for “incubator kitchens.” Another term you see sometimes.
- You could build your own commissary!
- I built a commissary kitchen behind my house in a prefab storage building. Your state will have its own requirements. Check with your health department. I had to have the following in my state:
- Floor drain
- 3 bay sink (wash, rinse, sanitize)
- Handwashing sink (in many states)
- Mop sink (in some states, like Tennessee)
- Look out for requirements for ‘commercial equipment.’ (4:45) There is no standard for ‘commercial’. It’s up to the manufacturer. Some inspectors will demand your equipment be certified as ‘commercial.’ If so, ask them, politely, to direct you to the code for that. (They can’t.)
Can a Food Truck be My Commissary? (6:45)
Not usually, because most states require you to store your food in a separate place than your truck, even if it has refrigeration.
In some places they may allow it.
Take a deep breath and just find a Commissary! (8:20)
“But, but, but it’s hard…”
Yeah, it’s a pain in the butt, but it’s just one hurdle to jump. It’s a one and done deal. Just suck up the courage and make the calls you need to make.
Once you’re through it, you’ll think, “That really wasn’t all that tough!”