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5 myths about community centre kitchens

If you’re planning to install a kitchen for your community centre, or you need an upgrade for the one you have, you might encounter a few common misconceptions.

  1. We just need a normal kitchen.
  2. We need a commercial-style steel-finish kitchen
  3. We can’t afford a new kitchen
  4. We don’t have the space for a semi-commercial kitchen
  5. We’re not a business, so we don’t need a food licence

Some of those are understandable assumptions, and some come from misleading information about what a community centre needs, what it should be, and who it will work for.

Here’s the truth.

1. ‘We just need a normal kitchen.’

You’re not a commercial catering operation producing three-course lunches and dinners, so you might not expect to need anything more than a typical home kitchen. Well, things might be small-scale, but that doesn’t mean a domestic-style kitchen is up to the job.

Typically, the kitchen that you’d find in a house won’t be strong, durable or cover necessary health and safety aspects that your community centre or church will need to cover.

Domestic kitchen materials (especially MDF) aren’t very durable. A community centre kitchen is going to get more use than a domestic kitchen, for a greater variety of food and drink prep, and it’ll be used by more people that don’t own it – or have to fix it when it’s broken.

That means that wear and tear happens much quicker, and less robust installations will start to deteriorate quickly.

Hand in hand with that, you’ll find it’s harder to maintain the right levels of hygiene with poorly-wearing, permeable materials.

2. We need a commercial-style steel-finish kitchen

A normal kitchen won’t do the job, so does that mean you need a restaurant-style kitchen? Fortunately not.

The kitchen that you’d find in a commercial setting is often utilitarian: it can handle high-volume, all-day-round cooking, but it’s probably far more than you’d need to do – and that goes without mentioning how unwelcoming and intimidating they look.

So, what do you need? Sitting comfortably between the domestic and the commercial is the semi-commercial kitchen. It’s homely enough to seem accessible and familiar while being durable and hygienic – as well as accommodating of some of the restaurant industry’s most useful appliances, such as steaming ovens and griddles.

Its main structure will probably be steel, but its finish can be far more homely (and colourful, if you wish). A finish like Zintec polyester powder-coating gives you the best of both worlds.

3. We can’t afford a semi-commercial kitchen

It’s true that any kitchen is an investment, but a semi-commercial installation won’t set you back as much as you might expect. In fact, including consultation, design and installation – which you don’t get with a domestic kitchen – a semi-commercial kitchen from Steelplan is an affordable option .

Factor in the life of the kitchen, too, and you’re saving money in the long run. By the time a domestic kitchen would need replacing, a semi-commercial one would still be in its prime; a cheaper kitchen is the more expensive option.

4. We don’t have room for a semi-commercial kitchen

A lot of community centres are limited in space, especially in urban settings. If you’re concerned that the kitchen you need won’t fit in your centre, have no fear — there’s almost certainly a way to make it work.

In fact, since semi-commercial kitchens are the best solution for churches, community centres, and village halls, space-limited installations are a common challenge that any good installer will be able to overcome. Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but we’ve installed plenty of kitchens that the owner didn’t think were possible.

5. We’re not a business, so we don’t need a food licence

You won’t need a food licence just because you have a semi-commercial kitchen, but be aware that the way you use it might mean you need one. Depending on what you prepare (and in large part, whether you sell anything) you might be a food business for the purpose of licensing. You can easily check if you’re likely to qualify .

There shouldn’t be any nasty surprises – and in any case, the designers at Steelplan Kitchens will help you design your kitchen within the Health & Safety Executive’s best practice guidelines. It provides peace of mind, even if you don’t end up needing to be licensed.

If you want some friendly advice on selecting a semi-commercial kitchen — or even just a few helpful tips to get your project started — our Community Kitchens team can help. Call 0844 809 9186 or email [email protected].

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