Restaurateurs turning to kitchen rental

Ever wonder where lunchtime food trucks make their food? Or where cupcake shops make their treats? The recession has cooked up a growing industry: kitchens for rent. They allow start-up businesses and restaurateurs to cook their fare until they can afford a kitchen of their own.

All the food served out of the Boka Truck is made first at Kitchen Thyme, a commercial kitchen in the West End for rent by the hour.

Said Chef Owner Patrick Harris, "It helped us increase our volume because there's more room to store more food, which means we can sell more food."

Kitchen Thyme offers all the equipment and storage space of a restaurant kitchen, certified by the Health Department, without the cost of building a restaurant.

"It's like running a restaurant here without the front of the house," Harris told us.

John Maher cooks for his pop-up restaurant "Spoon." at Kitchen Thyme, meaning he serves his cuisine in different places.

Said Maher, "It gives me a fully licensed, professional kitchen with dry storage that I can use to keep all my equipment and plates and things. Without that, I'd keep it all in my garage, which is not Health Department certified."

Melissa Krumbein got the idea to open Kitchen Thyme when she had to cook for 60 people at her family reunion. She asked food vendors where to find a kitchen for rent.

Krumbein recalled, "They said if you can find one, we'd rent it. I went , huh, you'd rent it? Sounds like a good idea."

Now Kitchen Thyme is used by caterers, cupcake makers, cooking instructors, and individuals who need to make a lot of food fast. Krumbein says it would cost you $60,000 to install a commercial-grade kitchen in a home. Instead you can rent hers, she says, for at least four hours for $37 an hour.

Said Krumbein, "If you're out of space in your kitchen and you've got 50 people coming for Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner, how much easier is it to cook with four ovens and six burners, a griddle and a char-broiler?"

The only question left is, who cleans up? Krumbein answered, "You have to clean up yourself. Although I will clean up for a price."