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Commissary Kitchens: Boosting Efficiency and Quality in Restaurant Operations

Commissary Kitchens: Boosting Efficiency and Quality in Restaurant Operations

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Nate Lozier

Commissary kitchens, central facilities for food prep, offer multi-location restaurants consistency, labor savings, and cost-efficiency, with software playing a vital role in managing recipes, inventory, and labor.

In recent years, rising labor costs have prompted many restaurant operators to reevaluate their strategies for reducing food costs and costs of goods sold (COGs). While methods like exploring alternative vendors, altering recipes, overhauling inventory practices, and menu engineering have been in the spotlight, one strategy that sometimes flies under the radar is the implementation of a restaurant commissary.

What is a Restaurant Commissary?

A restaurant commissary is a central facility where various recipe items are prepped to support multiple restaurant locations. It plays a pivotal role in maintaining consistent quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness across different branches. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamentals of running a commissary kitchen and best practices for effective management.

The Value of a Commissary Kitchen

Commissaries are typically used by catering companies, ghost kitchens, food trucks, and some personal chefs, but they can be immensely valuable for restaurant businesses with multiple locations. To determine if a commissary is right for your multi-location operation, consider these two critical questions:

  1. Volume: Do you have enough volume to justify a commissary? A successful commissary kitchen preps a variety of items like sauces, soups, side dishes, desserts, and more, not just one or two items.
  2. Labor Savings: Do the labor savings make running a commissary worthwhile? A commissary kitchen centralizes food prep, reducing the need for employees at every location to perform the same tasks. The more locations you have, the more beneficial a commissary kitchen becomes in reducing labor costs. Restaurant management software can help you track labor hours and the financial impact on your business.


Running A Restaurant Commissary: Best Practices for Consistency and Efficiency

The Role of Software in Commissary Kitchens

Effective software is crucial for managing a commissary kitchen. You’ll need software that handles recipe costing, COGs, and inventory management, implemented across all locations. This software allows you to:

Best Practices for Running a Commissary Kitchen

  1. Location and Layout: Choose a central location accessible to all branches with an efficient layout to accommodate workstations, equipment, and storage.
  2. Quality Control: Maintain consistent quality with standardized recipes, quality ingredients, regular inspections, and staff training.
  3. Food Safety and Hygiene: Implement a HACCP plan, sanitation protocols, temperature control, and personal hygiene practices.
  4. Efficient Operations: Optimize production schedules, use batch cooking techniques, employ inventory management software, and streamline workflows.
  5. Packaging and Distribution: Develop packaging standards, ensure proper labeling, plan efficient delivery logistics, and invest in technology integration.
  6. Communication and Collaboration: Foster smooth communication through technology integration, feedback mechanisms, and collaborative decision-making.
  7. Sustainability: Implement waste reduction strategies, focus on energy efficiency, and consider local sourcing to minimize environmental impact.
  8. Continuous Improvement: Analyze data, conduct regular audits, gather employee feedback, and consider open book management to continuously improve commissary operations.


While a commissary kitchen may not be suitable for every restaurant business, multi-location establishments can significantly benefit from its implementation. Beyond cost reductions, a commissary ensures consistency across locations, providing a uniform customer experience. By adhering to best practices and leveraging software solutions, you can establish and maintain a successful commissary that supports your restaurant locations and guarantees consistent quality and customer satisfaction.

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