Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Shari Mason
Embarking on a home-based food service venture offers comfort and convenience. However, the prospect of establishing a commercial kitchen at home and understanding the various rules and directives can sometimes feel overwhelming.
As a home cook looking forward to having a commercial kitchen at home, I’ve spoken to some local government authorities and relevant food safety agencies.
To save you from the hassle, here are the simplified requirements for a commercial kitchen at home.
8 General Requirements For A Commercial Kitchen At Home
1. Zoning & Permits
Based on my interview with one of the local government authorities near my location, constructing a commercial kitchen at home is no different in any food establishment.
If you operate your commercial kitchen at home, you have to secure local and state permits where you are located.
There can be restrictions in urban areas, so it is best to check with the local zoning department if it is allowed to construct a commercial kitchen in your zoning designation.
In addition, according to the FDA, any food business is subject to compliance with FDA, aside from state and local requirements .
2. Food Handling License
A food handling license is a requirement for everyone who works in the food service establishment, including a commercial kitchen at home.
A food handling license is a legal requirement that guarantees the health and safety of the consumers, especially in the sanitary aspect.
According to the USDA, you can obtain a license or a food handler’s permit from the local county health department. You can also obtain a food handling license from any ANSI-accredited training provider .
3. Separate Kitchen Space
As an operator of a commercial kitchen at home, you must note that you will need a separate kitchen space specifically designated for commercial use.
You cannot use your residential kitchen as the kitchen space or an extension for your commercial kitchen. Also, you must consider the location of your commercial kitchen.
“A successful home-based commercial kitchen hinges on this principle: separate the culinary dreams of business from the warmth of family life. Create a designated space where sizzling ambitions thrive, away from the heart of your home, ensuring the aroma of dreams won’t clash with the symphony of your family’s daily rhythm.”Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice
Check where it is the most accessible existing plumbing location and build a separate kitchen space where the odors and noise will not interfere with your family’s daily lifestyle.
4. Adequate Space & Layout
Cleaning & Washing
There is no required layout for a commercial kitchen. However, a well-thought and designed establishment will optimize efficiency and performance of the commercial kitchen.
In my conversation with a commercial kitchen owner, he emphasized the importance of having a separate cleaning and washing location to avoid cross-contamination.
He mentioned that three-compartment sinks are necessary to clean utensils and keep the kitchen at full speed quickly.
Remember that your house is not an extension of your commercial kitchen, so plan a storage location to store goods.
It is ideal to split your storage area into three parts: non-food, dry, and cold storage. The non-food storage can go on the cleaning and washing space.
The non-perishables and pantry goods go to dry storage, while anything that needs to be chilled, refrigerated, and frozen goes to cold storage.
Regarding food prep, you will need sinks and steel countertops for washing, cutting, and mixing.
Placing the tables near the storage area speeds up the process because you can efficiently grab and move it quickly. I recommend putting up sections designated for processing meats and sorting foods.
You must consider where you will cook and the equipment sizes you will use (ovens, fryers, and ranges). You must ensure that the location has proper ventilation, lighting, and washable floors.
You can break down the cooking area into smaller stations-frying, baking, and grilling. It should be near the finishing area to save time and easy access. But how much does it cost to start your own small restaurant?
The final section of the commercial kitchen is the finishing area, where you pack up the orders or serve the food to the consumers.
It is commonly found on the front of the commercial kitchen to shorten the distance between the customers and completed meals.
5. Ventilation And Exhaust System
A commercial kitchen at home should be adequately ventilated because it can be extremely hot.
Food and cooking preparation produces steam, smoke, and airborne particles that can irritate the skin and eyes and cause respiratory issues that can harm your kitchen crew.
If you have a proper exhaust and ventilation system, you can effectively remove the irritants and contribute to the temperature control of the kitchen.
In addition, a proper exhaust and ventilation system can help reduce energy loss and restrict odors that may go into your home.
6. Plumbing & Sanitation
Clean Water Supply
One of the primary purposes of plumbing is to provide an adequate and potable water supply to any establishment . Since you will provide food products, a clean water supply is necessary.
The health department must approve the clean water supply, which should be tested to ensure it is approved for food production.
Inspection Of Gas Hookups
If you plan to construct a commercial kitchen at home, you must ensure that your gas hookups pass the inspection to avoid any untoward incident.
Natural gas hookups in future construction are banned in Berkley, California, but let’s be clear, it’s not banned in the whole country .
“The court is saying that Berkeley was effectively regulating the energy efficiency … by banning new natural gas hookups,”– Amy Turner, Senior Fellow in Columbia Law School
Natural gas appliances help commercial kitchens operate efficiently and effectively, but every commercial kitchen (not within Berkley) must pass the inspection before they operate.
7. Flooring & Walls
The flooring of your commercial kitchen at home should be made from non-porous, smooth, washable, but not non-slipping materials. It should be quickly disinfected because after every shift.
In my interview with a commercial kitchen owner, he mentioned that investing in non-porous and vinyl walls is worth it. They are moisture-proof and easy to clean, which makes your kitchen contaminated-free.
8. Equipment & Appliances
If you plan on putting up a commercial kitchen at home, know that you must invest in cooking equipment, which may vary depending on your restaurant’s needs.
You may need a cabinet-like machine that will hold your range and oven to save space in your kitchen. Also, you will need a grill, broiler, toaster, microwave, griddle, and deep fryer.
If you offer beverages and drinks in your commercial kitchen at home, you will invest in beverage equipment like beverage dispensers, coffee machines, and ice machines.
“In your home commercial kitchen, serve beverages with ease. Get sturdy equipment – dispensers, coffee makers, ice machines – built to handle the demand. Elevate your craft with reliable tools, ensuring every pour delights.”Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice
It is ideal to get industry-grade beverage equipment to withstand the high-volume production that is required in commercial kitchens.
Refrigerator And Freezer
Another requirement for a commercial kitchen at home is the refrigerator and freezer as cold storage to keep your ingredients safe to consume and maintain freshness.
Storage containers are necessary because you will need to store ingredients, especially if you prepare them beforehand.
Three sinks are required in a commercial kitchen because one is for handwashing, one for food washing, and the other for cleaning.
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As mentioned earlier, every food establishment is required to have a cleaning and washing area, so cleaning equipment is essential for sanitary purposes.
Cleaning equipment such as but not limited to brooms, dustpans, mops, wet floor signs, trash cans, vacuums, and recycling bins are needed.
A dishwasher is a machine used to clean cookware and kitchenware. If needed, you must check the qualification of the dishwasher.
Kitchenware such as knives, spatulas, pots, cutting boards, dishes, pans, and other cooking tools are necessary when opening a commercial kitchen at home.
u003cstrongu003eCan you build a commercial kitchen in your home in California?u003c/strongu003e
Yes, you can build a commercial kitchen in your home in California. You must obtain licenses and certificates to handle food, secure a valid business license, comply with safety practices, and undergo inspections.
u003cstrongu003eWhat is the difference between commercial and residential kitchens?u003c/strongu003e
The major differences between commercial and residential kitchens are the equipment and purpose. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eCommercial kitchens are designed for mass production, while residential kitchens are designed for individual households. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIn addition, commercial kitchens have more specialized and industrial-grade equipment than residential kitchens.
u003cstrongu003eDo commercial kitchens need ventilation?u003c/strongu003e
Yes, commercial kitchens need proper ventilation to remove smoke, heat, and odor generated while cooking. It helps maintain safe and comfortable working and comply with safety and health regulations.
u003cstrongu003eCan you use a regular oven in a commercial kitchen?u003c/strongu003e
No, you can’t use a regular oven in a commercial kitchen because a regular oven is not intended for heavy use. u003cbru003eu003cbru003eInstead, you should invest in commercial ovens that can withstand high-volume cooking and have additional features like faster heat recovery and precise temperature control.
Setting up a commercial kitchen at home is more challenging than it sounds because you have to comply with requirements and regulations.
You must secure permits and licenses and prepare adequate layouts and spaces. In addition, you have to ensure that the commercial kitchen is well-ventilated, plumbing and sanitation requirements are met, and acquire necessary equipment and appliances.
Lastly, it’s essential to comply with health and safety standards and undergo safety inspections to operate a commercial kitchen successfully.
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