How to Get Your First Shared Kitchen Right Before Expanding to a Second Location

As the demand for local food and beverages grows, so does the need for affordable commercial kitchens. Starting a shared kitchen can enable food producers to get their business off the ground without the huge investment of a private kitchen.Optimizing your shared kitchen before expanding is crucial. This ensures you can provide the right environment, offerings, and experience to meet the needs of your renters. A well-optimized kitchen leads to higher retention,word-of-mouth referrals, and reviews which fuels growth.

Define Your Ideal Renter

When launching your shared kitchen, it's important to have a clear vision of who your ideal renters are. This will allow you to tailor yourfacility and offerings to meet their needs. Here are a few tips for defining your target renter:

- Consider industries like baking, catering, food trucks,etc. Focusing on businesses in specific industries can help you create acohesive community and provide specialized equipment they need.

- Look for businesses at certain growth stages. For example,targeting early-stage entrepreneurs just starting out versus establishedcompanies looking to expand.

- Outline complementary business types that could sharespace well. For instance, a meal delivery service that uses the kitchen in themornings and a caterer that rents the evenings.

- Think about business models like subscription vs. hourly and how that fits different renters.

- Factor in needed amenities like storage, delivery, parking etc.


Experiment with Rates and Hours

One of the best ways to optimize your first shared kitchen is to experiment with different membership tiers, hourly rates, and operating hours. This will help you find the right balance between covering your costs and providing affordability and accessibility for a diverse range of food businesses.

Try out a few different membership options, such as monthly unlimited access, pay per hour, or bulk hour packages. You may want to offer discounts for long-term rentals, multi-month commitments, or off-peak times when demand is lower. Monitor booking patterns and feedback from renters to see which tiers are most popular and provide the greatest value.

Starting off, you may want to keep your hours relatively limited as you ramp up operations. Pay attention to when renters want to access the kitchen outside of your normal hours. As demand grows, consider extending operating hours especially for early mornings, late nights, and weekends. This provides more flexibility for renters juggling other jobs and responsibilities.

Getting your pricing and hours right may take some trial and error. Be open to adjusting based on real-world data and input from your customers. The goal is to maximize kitchen utilization and revenue while ensuring affordability, flexibility, and accessibility for the food entrepreneurs in your community.

Tailor Your Kitchen Offerings

One of the most important things when optimizing your first shared kitchen is to tailor your kitchen layout and offerings to your renters' needs. Here are some tips:

- Have separate baking and cooking areas. If you have renters who will mainly be baking, like professional bakers or hobby bakers,create a separate baking area with the right equipment like stand mixers,proofers, sheet pans, and more. For renters who focus on cooking, create a cooking area with stovetops, ovens, sauté stations, etc. Keeping these area sand tools separate will allow renters to avoid cross-contamination and work more efficiently.

- Include storage solutions.  Providing renters storage for dry goods,refrigerated items, tools, and utensils is crucial. Storage options like ingredient bins, walk-in coolers, shelving units, lockers and shared refrigerator space will give renters the ability to safely store items at your kitchen in between uses. Make sure to outline your storage guidelines clearly.

- Provide the right equipment for your renters. Take stock of the types of businesses who will rent your kitchen. A caterer will need different tools than a chocolatier. Reach out to prospective renters to see what equipment they require or provide basic tools like food processors, sheet pans, knives and then allow renters to bring any specialty items. Having the proper tools on hand will make for a more convenient and efficient kitchen rental experience.


Host Events and Programs to Connect with the Community

Events and programs are a great way to promote your shared kitchen, connect renters with each other and the local community, and add value beyond just the kitchen space. Consider hosting educational workshops,networking events, product demonstrations, or special chef collaborations.

Some event ideas include:

- Partner with local chefs to hold cooking classes or foodworkshops. This brings in new customers, allows chefs to test recipes, and gives renters a chance to showcase their skills and products.

- Host business workshops relevant to your renters, like food photography basics, social media marketing tips, or pricing strategies.

- Organize a monthly networking night for food entrepreneurs and artisans to connect. Offer light refreshments prepared in your kitchen.

- Partner with local businesses to host pop-up dinners or collaboration meals. Your renters can team up with restaurants, breweries, or bakeries on special events.

- Promote your individual renters by inviting the community in for retail days, product demonstrations, recipe testing, or open house events.

- Consider offering your space for private events like birthday parties or corporate team building activities with a focus on cooking or food.


Get creative with events and actively promote your renters' businesses. This shows the community what your kitchen has to offer and helps build relationships between renters, customers, and local partners. Consistent events will make your kitchen a hub for food entrepreneurs in your area.


Gather Renter Feedback

Getting regular feedback from your renters is crucial for optimizing your first shared kitchen. Here are some ways to collect valuable input:

- Send surveys and hold focus groups: Email surveys and in-person focus groups allow you to directly ask renters targeted questions to understand their experience. Ask about everything from cleanliness to amenities to events. Consider providing incentives for participating.  

- Monitor online reviews: Pay close attention to reviews on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. Look for trends and insights you can act on.Respond professionally to all reviews.

- Foster open communication: Make yourself available to chat with renters. Let them know they can come to you with concerns, ideas, or requests. Build personal relationships with frequent renters.

The feedback you receive directly from renters will allow you to keep improving your kitchen. Listen to their pain points and work to address them. Celebrate and thank renters who provide thoughtful suggestions. Ongoing improvements based on renter feedback will lead to higher satisfaction and retention.


To recap, focus first on clearly defining your ideal renterand tailoring your offerings to their needs. Experiment with different membership rates and operating hours to find the right balance between accessibility and profitability. Make sure you have the necessary kitchen spaces and equipment for diverse food businesses, like separate baking and cooklines.

Hosting events and activities and regularly soliciting renter feedback shows you care about building community and are committed to continuous improvement. Promoting the space, even just through word of mouth,can help attract that first wave of engaged users. And don't neglect the importance of cleanliness, maintenance and creating a welcoming environment.