Getting Started in a Commercial Kitchen
What do you need to operate in a commercial kitchen? Starting a business can be daunting. However, getting started in our commercial kitchen is simple. Check out our Member requirements, complete an application and start cooking! We offer affordable hourly or monthly kitchen memberships and custom plans for food truck members. Along with an excitement for starting your new business, you will need food handler’s certification and liability insurance.
Food Handler's Certification
As an owner of a food business, you will need to understand the fundamentals of safe food preparation, packaging and food-service. California law requires that at least one employee of your food business holds and maintains a Food Safety Manager’s Certification, and that all people working in food preparation, storage or service have food handler’s certification.
These food handler’s certifications are offered by your local County Health Department, or can be taken through a number of private education organizations. Make sure that the course you take is ANSI (American National Standards Institute) accredited. A list of course offerings is provided below.
Before you start selling your food products, you will want to have liability insurance in place. This may not be a requirement under State law, but will usually be required by the businesses to which you sell your food products, and is a very good idea to protect yourself and your assets. You will be required to have liability insurance, and to name our kitchen as an additional insured, before you prepare food for sale in our kitchen.
We have used Centurion Insurance in Dublin for our insurance needs, and they have helped many of our food business clients, but you can secure your insurance through any number of insurance brokers. Recently many of our kitchen members have been using FLIP (Food Liability Insurance Program) for their liability insurance needs.
Business Licensing and Local, State and Federal Requirements
We recommend food business operators get business licenses in place, and to familiarize themselves with the various City, County, State and Federal requirements for licenses, certifications and regulations for preparing, packaging and selling food and beverage products.
A good resource for understanding the various steps in forming, growing and operating your food business is a not-for-profit organization called SCORE. www.score.org
Starting your Food Truck
We get a lot of questions from people aspiring to start their new food truck business, and from new food truck owners. The first thing we tell aspiring Food Truck owners is not to underestimate the complexity of starting and operating a food truck. The permitting process can be daunting, as you navigate city and county permits and licensing requirements for each area in which you intend to operate. There is no substitute for careful research and lots of planning. Make your way through the process and documents available from your local County Health website (https://deh.acgov.org/operations/mff.page) as a good first step.
Next, Focus on where you will sell. The old adage of location, location, location still holds true for launching and growing your food truck business. Will you be focused on selling lunches to busy office locations, Participating in events and festivals, and/or Joining planned food truck events through Off the Grid (https://offthegrid.com/) or Food Truck Mafia (https://www.thefoodtruckmafia.com/)? None of these options is without challenges. Start your research and communication with your potential venues early.
One of the benefits of joining our Commissary is that you become part of a community of Food Truck owners that can help you with information, advice and introductions. We have a great group of experienced, and brand new operators working here and they are happy to share. Along the line of going to food truck owners as a part of your research, I have appreciated this article sharing advice from food truck operators. (https://foodtruckr.com/2020/05/what-i-wish-id-known-before-starting-my-food-truck/)
Along with the focus on where you will sell, the most common issue I hear about from food truck operators are the mechanical issues they face. Get your food truck checked out by a trusted mechanic, and consider going with a food trailer that can separate issues with your food sales from mechanical challenges. I will never forget running into one of my long time food truck Members at the end of a day right after her brakes had failed on the way over the Bay Bridge. Luckily she was OK, and lived to sell another day!