This is likely the most significant central kitchen benefit—and the one that has the most direct impact to your bottom line. I’ll start with the most obvious cost savings, labor cost. Pre-CK, each individual restaurant would have specialized kitchen staff trained on each of the prepped products. These team members at each site ensure their site has enough product to get through a day.
If your central kitchen services 10 sites, that’s 10 separate kitchen team members that must be paid for their efforts, which often include making small batches of product for each site. With a central kitchen in place, you can eliminate the prep position at each of the sites, and consolidate in the central kitchen.
You can eliminate the single restaurant batch size and increase the batch size to cover all serviced locations. Your raw product orders at each site will be minimized, and you can leverage lower bulk pricing when buying product through the central kitchen (larger batches = more raw product needed).
Another aspect often overlooked with central kitchens is real estate cost. The most desirable restaurant locations often command the highest rent. By removing a large amount of kitchen prep work from each site, you can often shrink the square footage of your kitchen by eliminating or shrinking the area required for major appliances and prep workspace. Although this doesn’t always help for existing locations, in a time of expansion, this opens the doors on possible restaurant locations—smaller footprints, better locations, more room for guests and a wider selection of available locations.
By moving prep away from restaurant sites and into a central kitchen, you also save on training costs and labor cost at each site. Instead of hiring and training kitchen staff at each restaurant (and retraining when changes occur), you’ll only need to hire and train the staff at the central kitchen. This alone should yield very noticeable labor savings against your payroll from day one.
Another concept that’s been in the headlines over the last year is a “ghost kitchen.” Ghost kitchens go hand-in-hand with a central kitchen as the footprint/real estate requirements are often the same: A centrally located kitchen (in a low-rent area) that can prep and create items from a restaurant menu for pickup by your delivery services.
Related: 4 ways to overcome kitchen chaos and orchestrate off-premise orders seamlessly
Using a central kitchen for prep in the morning hours, and converting to a ghost kitchen once the prep is complete and the lunch/dinner window opens is an ideal use of an existing space. Additionally, if your kitchen has downtimes, you could rent out the space to other restaurants/food trucks as a place for them to prep—bringing in a new revenue stream to help offset costs.