RPM Kitchens, a shared commissary kitchen, opened in the start-up office complex known as Springdale General in Austin, Texas earlier this year. The goal: providing a kitchen to entrepreneurs who don’t have one readily available.
Currently working with bakers, caterers, food trucks and more, RPM Kitchens this month launched a fast-casual lunch counter for rotating brands to serve the public.
No longer a practice mainly used by caterers, the concept of a shared kitchen has risen with the boom in both food trucks and delivery. Having access to a health-department-approved kitchen with low rent offers an affordable point of entry into the restaurant industry.
For the past few months, the RPM has been utilized as a place where up to four groups of chefs or bakers can cook at the same time. Groups are chosen based on founder Max Kunik’s evaluation.
“I’ll look at the schedule and decide how the chefs would work best. I won’t have four food trucks in there at once. I’ll have a bakery and a food truck and a small caterer. In a space that small, it’s about working well,” said Kunik.
Kunik comes from a background in operations management including working for Austin Restaurant Week and wants to “enhance relationships between Austin food scene players,” according to press materials.
The kitchen is equipped with two double-stacked convection ovens, two six-burner ranges with single ovens, two double stock pot ranges, one double gas fryer, one 24-inch char-broiler and one single wok range.
Multiple prep areas, dry storage racks, a 120-inch oversized three-compartment sink, 12-foot by 8-foot refrigerator, 50 cubic foot freezer, 72-inch under-counter prep fridge and weekly towel and mop service.
It is up to the renter to clean the space after use. According to Kunik, they must return the space in the same or better shape than it was left or incur fines.
Pricing is dependent on time of day (peak vs. off-peak) and frequency but varies between $12 and $26 per hour. RPM also offers an option for 40 or more hours per week, as well as rental of storage space and a signed commissary letter for food trucks.
The next step was to offer a consumer-facing outlet.
Available for an additional $50, the lunch counter allows patrons of the commissary to have access to a nearby location to test out dishes on customers and make some extra money.
“We don’t have a set price, but we recommend keeping the prices under $20 for lunch with a quick serve time,” said Kunik.
This lunch service feeds customers at the office building between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
RPM provides the space, everything else is dependent on the renter, including operational details like the point-of-sale system, iPads and menu distribution.
“We don’t want to take any of their profit by providing our own systems of paying to customers, all the money goes to them,” said Kunik.
The current residency schedule — each of which lasting about three weeks — began with Lucky Lime, a healthful concept reflecting global flavors, with offerings ranging from the Spicy Tempeh Taco Salad with greens, radishes, sprouts, grilled peppers, cotija cheese, roasted pecans and green goddess dressing; to the Jalapeno Cheddar Beef Burger with lettuce, pickles, grilled red onion, whole grain Dijon on a housemade bun. All options range between $13-$6 for an entrée and $3-$4 for a side or drink.
Previously, Lucky Lime had only sold prepackaged meals or delivered from their commissary kitchen to the office residents. This residency was the first counter service direct from the chefs available.
Next up for two residency sessions is Pretty Thai, a gluten-free Thai group that specializes in spices and allergen-accommodating orders. Every dish includes spice and the level can be adjusted depending on personal preference.
Some of these dishes include Holy Basil Pork Fried Rice with Pretty Thai Chili Powder, house garlic basil sauce, green beans, shallots, Berkshire pork sirloin, lemongrass, F Stop Farm holy basil, kaffir lime and a fried egg and the prices vary from $12 to $13 with the option to make several dishes vegetarian or vegan.
Contact Holly Petre at [email protected]