SYWTOABP 6: How much does a commercial kitchen cost?
Another dry but necessary set of costs to estimate when planning to open a bar, is the equipment and construction necessary to install an efficient commercial kitchen. Hopefully, I can both make this more interesting and less anal than my list of equipment I developed and priced for our fictitious brew pub. Now that I’m approximately half way through the process, I sort of wished I had selected a location, and made explicit the square footage and liquor license size.
I’m not a greedy man. I think a liquor license for over 100 people but under 200 is large. If I had a license like that and could just plop down a pub wherever I like, I would. Alas, this series isn’t about what I want. It is being written for the benefit of the community of craft beer lovers in BC to, hopefully, take some of the guess work, and even the leg work, out of opening a pub, or in this case, a brew pub.
Many restaurants open and close every year in BC, so finding a location with some of this equipment installed or finding some of this equipment used isn’t hard. Once again determining whether something is used but in extremely serviceable shape or whether something is going to need replacing very soon is a skill and a risk you take when purchasing used equipment. It is my intention to price out new equipment. But as I alluded to earlier I’m not sure what type of equipment this brew pub kitchen needs. I’ve worked on quick service and cafe business plans several times. I mentioned the W2 Cafe which should be opening next Friday, as an example of a real venue that I provided advice and expertise to. Our proposed brew pub will need a much larger and full featured kitchen than was included in the W2 business plan, but does it have to have a deep fryer? Are we specializing in Greek food?
Answering questions like this is something you need to do in the business planning stage. You also need to think about who will be cooking for you, who will be preparing the menu, who will be choosing the tableware. Some people take tableware very seriously. I’d like to think at a brew pub, people aren’t judging the establishment by the shape of the plate the food is served on. I don’t want to spend time on choosing tableware or setting a menu, though I’m well aware both will dictate the equipment and materials you need to purchase for your commercial kitchen. Instead I hope to consult literature and websites and leverage other opinions on the necessary equipment and costs to opening a commercial kitchen capable of serving up to 100 people.
One of the first articles I re-read was the Entrepreneur.com article on starting a bar. They looked at startup costs for a 100 person bar with a limited menu and a 1000 person night club. They came up with the following totals: $141,982 and $431,618. Our brew pub will come in-between the numbers as long as we don’t have to build the building itself, then they agree with me you’re looking at potentially a million dollars or more in startup costs. Entrepreneur.com hasn’t gone into the detail I have and they haven’t been providing spreadsheets. They do however want you to buy their more in-depth e-Book. I’ve purchased their e-Book, I’m not telling you not to, but it doesn’t have the answers I seek either. Based on their published numbers and my recent research into bar equipment even a modest commercial kitchen is going to cost $25,000 a lot more if you have to pay for elaborate ventilation.
If you Google there are discussion threads a plenty about this, ChefTalk has one, but this one has better cost break downs. The consensus seems to be more than double maybe even triple my quick estimate of $25K. Ventilation being the most expensive single cost as well as the most difficult to estimate. What you want is a space that was built with the intention of putting in a commercial kitchen. Hint, you need an exterior wall.
RestaurantOwner.com has a survey of restaurant startup costs. Once again giving a range of costs based on the size of establishment.
One expert, Carol Godsmark, gave the following list of minimum equipment for a commercial equipment:
- double oven with four or six gas burners;
- grill or salamander (high level grill);
- deep-fat fryer;
- large commercial fridge or walk-in fridge;
- double sink;
- hand basin;
- sink (near the cooking area preferably);
- washing-up area with commercial dishwasher (don’t use a standard home dishwasher);
- storage shelving;
- cool work surface for cold food and salad prep away from ovens;
- work surfaces for prepping food and surfaces for food processors, for example;
- hanging pot and pan rack to increase storage space preferably by stoves;
- good, accessible storage for cooking equipment;
- good lighting and decent air flow;
But wait there is so much more:
- apple corer
- cast iron casseroles with lids
- cheese grater
- chinois (fine sieve)
- chopping boards (see EHO guidelines)
- fish pan
- fish slice
- heavy based saucepans for sauces etc
- heavy based stock pots
- heavy duty cast iron frying pans
- kitchen scales
- kitchen scissors
- knives for many uses (see page 41)
- large spoons
- lemon squeezer
- lemon zester
- measuring jugs
- mixing bowls of all sizes
- nutmeg grater
- pancake pan
- pastry brushes
- pepper and salt mill
- plastic lidded containers for food storage and labels
- roasting and baking trays
- saute pans, shallow pans, dutch ovens (for braising, sautéing or stews)
- sieves and colanders
- slotted spoons
- terrines, ramekin dishes
- tin opener
- vegetable peelers
- blender (a heavy duty one and simple to clean)
- coffee grinders (one for spices, one for coffee beans)
- deep-fat fryer
- hand whisk with a variety of whisks
- tea towels – lots!
- hand towels
- catering packs of foil, cling film and silicon paper
- bags – rubbish and freezer
- cleaning materials
- antibacterial spray
- heavy-duty bins.
- large chopping knife
- sharpening steel or electric/water sharpener
- palette knife
- carving knife
- chef’s knife – 15 cm
- medium knife – 20–25 cm
- filleting knife (for fish)
- several paring knives (like a vegetable knife)
- potato peeler
- meat cleaver
- ham slicer with supple blade
- boning knife
- salmon knife
- bread knife
- cooking fork.
And of course all the tableware you plan to serve your delicious food on. I plan to take a subset of this collection of equipment and cost it from suppliers, either ones I recommended previously or new even more specialized ones, but I need a break before I fire up Microsoft Excel.
Most of the prices I ended up taking from Serv-U Online which has an excellent online catalog. Didn’t discover them in my previous Googling. I still urge you to shop around and contact local suppliers, especially for equipment that may need maintenance. Another useful website and online catalog of a more local supplier is Bargreen.
My commercial kitchen equipped as detailed in the Excel Spreadsheet came out to a total cost of $29,086.26 that doesn’t include installation, plumbing, duct work, or actual counter tops. Several work services were priced in. I also included a large exhaust hood with fan(s), but remember depending on the location of your kitchen and how close the nearest exterior wall is, ducting/ventilation can be a major expense.
Acute observers may notice a change in the file extension of my Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, this is a result of foolishly rushing into an upgrade to Mac OS X Lion and subsequently being forced to upgrade to Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac. Microsoft has tools for converting between the two formats so it shouldn’t prevent anyone from opening the file. My computer upgrades delayed the completion of this post by a day or two along with most everything else I use my MacBook Pro for, sorry about that, I’ve tried to stick to a weekly schedule for this series on starting a brew pub.
Unfortunately this isn’t the last list of equipment I need to price out for this project, but I have hopefully finally contacted the right person at Yaletown Brewing Company and will be including a tour of a working brew pub and maybe even an interview with their brewmaster as part of this series. That should be a little more fun than Excel spreadsheets and tableware. Until next time…