June 19, 2023

What is a central production kitchen: An all-encompassing guide

The food and beverage industry is constantly changing to meet the ever-changing expectations of customers. Many restaurant owners are looking for ways to stay ahead of the competition and maintain a cost-effective grip on their operations. While a number of solutions are widely available, one of the most popular has been shifting operations from traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants to central production kitchens. As a result of this mass migration, this type of kitchen has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years as it offers eateries a way to streamline production and increase efficiency while boosting profit at the same time.

Also known as central production kitchens or Central Production Units (CPUs), Central kitchens offer an array of benefits, from increased production capacity to lower overhead costs, making them a great option for restaurants looking to stay competitive in a space with infinite competition. In this blog, we will explore the ins and outs of central kitchens, journeying through what they are, what types of businesses use them, and the plethora of advantages they provide to restaurateurs.

The meaning of a central kitchen: What exactly is it?

A central production unit is a type of commercial kitchen facility that is specially developed to prepare and produce food for large-scale outlets and businesses, meaning it is typically used and operated by an organisation specialising in food management, catering, or large-scale food production. Within the facility, staff prepares food for all the outlets owned by the organisation, often for different locations and brands.

What makes these kitchens so sought after is that they have a larger capacity, multiple options for food preparation, and comprehensive resources and equipment. Central production units allow businesses to significantly boost their efficiency as it enables them to produce food to their specifications, store it, and transport it.

By utilising a central production unit, businesses can prepare food for all their brands from one kitchen space, which helps ensure quality control and saves costs in that there is no need to rent out multiple units. On top of this, they can also scale up their capacity by using their labour and resources in a more efficient manner.

The businesses that use central kitchens

Multiple types of businesses in the F&B sector often turn to central kitchens to ensure their food and services are of consistent quality and delivered most efficiently and cost-effectively. Generally, hotels, F&B groups, restaurants, and catering companies are among the companies that utilise central production units as it simplifies production, storage, and delivery for them.

1. Catering companies

Catering companies often use central production units to produce large quantities of food that are then delivered and distributed at events and functions. Since everything can be handled from one kitchen space, it saves them the time and money of having to rent out multiple units or one larger, more expensive area. Furthermore, they can save a fortune on equipment as some of these central kitchen facilities come equipped with a lot of the apparatus they would need to use to fulfil all their orders.

2. Hotels

Hotel groups and chains use central kitchens to ensure that the food served at all their locations is of the highest quality as the last thing they want is guests complaining about subpar food. By using central production units, hotels can easily create meals that are based on set recipes with convenient methods for bulk production, storage, and delivery.

3. F&B groups

F&B groups use central production units to provide the same branding and level of service across all the restaurants they operate. Having chefs in one central kitchen develop dishes ensures quality control can be maintained and that diners can enjoy a memorable meal at any of the eateries that fall under the ownership of the restaurant group.

4. Restaurant chains

Restaurants with multiple chains use central production units for the same reasons as F&B groups but on a larger scale. Since these kitchen spaces are ripe for scaling production and provide the necessary infrastructure to cook large batches of food at a single time, it eliminates any logistical problems. Furthermore, it also ensures that all the chains have every item available on the menu as if each franchise were to cook everything in-house, they may not be able to make enough of a certain item to satisfy potential demand, resulting in a poor dining experience for customers.

The advantages of using central kitchens

The use of a central production unit in the hospitality industry offers significant advantages that can help businesses expand, ensure quality control, develop brand recognition, increase efficiency, and even generate extra income. By leveraging the power of such kitchen spaces, F&B companies can take great strides towards reaching their full potential and ultimately, scaling to unprecedented heights.

1. Scaling the business

Utilising a central kitchen makes it possible to expand the business by incorporating additional recipes to the menu or offering new services, such as catering services. With everything done from one space, the costs saved enable business owners to open multiple outlets; all without the need of having to do everything in-house. In such cases, the central production unit serves as the hub, meaning everything is prepped there before being delivered to the eatery’s other branches.

2. Consistent quality

Consistency is also guaranteed when businesses use central kitchens as quality control can be implemented from the ingredients to the cooking process to ensure that every dish is fresh and hits the spot with customers, no matter where it gets delivered to.

3. Growing the brand

With everything running from one central kitchen, business owners can focus on growing the brand and taking it in new directions or exploring new avenues to make it more profitable. Whether that’s introducing new dishes on the menu or trying out an entirely new concept, the sky’s the limit.

4. Enhanced efficiency

A more efficient business model is wholly possible with the help of central kitchens as everything can be bought in bulk, whether it be certain equipment or ingredients. Furthermore, more skilled chefs can be hired through the money saved by renting out a central production unit rather than a larger facility.

5. More revenue

Central production units transform businesses from solo entities into sub-assembly and distribution networks, meaning there is a greater chance of generating more revenue. Since new brands can be started from the same kitchen space, it is possible that an entity can become incredibly successful, especially if the type of cuisine is underrepresented in the local area. As a result, this can drastically boost profits.

6. An essential licence

Smart City Kitchens’ spaces come with a Food Processing Licence, which central production units need to operate their business.

7. Get up and running almost immediately

With most of the infrastructure taken care of by Smart City Kitchens, businesses can open their doors and start serving customers in just two weeks’ time.  

The key ingredients of a successful central production kitchen

Running a successful central production kitchen requires the right mix of everything, from equipment to employees and technology. Combining all of these elements allows businesses to grow and achieve incredible levels of success.

1. The right equipment

One of the most essential aspects of any successful central production unit is having the proper equipment in place, such as commercial-grade refrigerators and ovens. This is essential to meet the high volume demands the companies operating out of such kitchen spaces face regularly.

2. Too many cooks spoil the broth

There is a fine line between having the right number of chefs and too many. The best way for businesses in central production kitchens to address this is to pace themselves, meaning as the volume of orders increases, there will be a more pressing need for additional staff.

3. The right location

Being situated in the right location can be imperative to a business’s success, especially for those who rely heavily on online deliveries. This is where Smart City Kitchens offers an optimum solution as we have state-of-the-art facilities located in key locales throughout Singapore. This allows eateries to use our central production units as a launching pad to scale their businesses and expand to new markets.

Dominate the F&B market from a central production kitchen

Central kitchens provide a tried and tested pathway to F&B stardom as it is a wonderful way to streamline and manage the production of food on a larger scale while lowering costs. Whether it’s providing customers with beautifully cooked food or enhancing their delivery systems, the long-term benefits of central production units are undeniable. Simply put, with the right set-up in place, businesses can ascend to new highs and hit record levels of profitability. Considering moving into a central production kitchen? Fill in the form below or get in touch with us.

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