A Guide to Creating a Shared Commercial Kitchen Facility in Austin

Individuals planning to become part of a growing food industry must comply with strict health and safety codes at the federal, state, and county level. One such restriction stipulates that prepared food sold to the public must be processed in a designated "commercial kitchen shared space". Aside from limited exceptions, home kitchens are largely unsuitable for retail-scale food processing.

Finding or establishing a certified commercial kitchen space represents a significant barrier to start-up food businesses and ultimately deters many new businesses from being formed. One promising solution to this issue is the creation of local shared commercial kitchen facilities, and licensed public spaces dedicated to the processing and production of food items for retail sale.

These facilities can be rented by the hour, allowing entrepreneurs the opportunity to prepare their recipes in an approved, affordable location. By reducing barriers for start-up businesses, shared commercial kitchen facilities can facilitate local economic development and spur innovation. Different kitchen facilities offer different resources to their tenants. Some basic kitchens provide only the space and equipment necessary for food production.

Others, commonly called "incubator kitchens," provide additional support through on-site resources and consultation. Many kitchens offer community classes for those interested in learning cooking, food preservation, and nutrition skills. The flexibility a commercial kitchen space provides makes it a useful resource for Extension programming in a wide range of departments.