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I looked into a small store in New York City that is a little over 250 sq. feet and it does not have a kitchen - I would need to create one.

I know this specific place is not for me, but I was wondering how small your small shop is? Is there anyone here who has a retail store but with a separate commercial kitchen in another location?


Andre Costa

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John, the retail store will always come after my chocolate-making. If I cannot make the chocolate, then I don't want to have a retail store.
If running a retail store was my goal, I could pick something way more profitable than chocolate, right?!
I was under the impression you were making chocolates, not making chocolate. I can't imagine how a 250 sq. ft. area would be enough to make (bean to bar?) chocolate. I do think for making chocolate confections that 250 would be small but doable.

I am not a 'bean-to-bar' maker.
I don't know Andre, I hear chocolate can be very profitable! : )
I think it can be done. I recently saw a shop that was very well done, and I don't think any bigger than 300 square feet.

There are a couple of things to consider that have not been touched on, yet. IN GENERAL:

1) The more different things you do the more space you need. For equipment and for storage and for space to have the equipment out to be used (otherwise you waste lots of valuable time moving stuff around to clear up on from kind of work and get set up for another). You need to think about the number of techniques/styles you want to employ and the space required for each one.

2) If you decide to go with a split store/kitchen arrangement either your hours go through the ceiling (because you are in the kitchen when the shop is closed) or the number of employees you need increases (you're in the kitchen and someone else is in the shop). If the shop and the kitchen are in the same physical location then you have to multi-task between production and serving customers.

3) It's important to consider how you are going to "store" your pieces while the chocolate is crystallizing. On pans in sheet racks at ambient temperature? In a cooling cabinet?

4) Standardize on your packaging. The more different kinds of packaging you have the more space you need to store it.

The smaller the physical space you have, the more important it is to be extremely organized and to think through the mechanics of production in terms of the space needed and the steps and movement required.

I am a little unconventional in the sense that I emphasize refrigeration as the key element in kitchen design. In particular, as the space gets smaller you need to focus your attention on under-counter (lowboy) units. This way you get your refrigeration needs covered without sacrificing work surface (most lowboy refrigeration units have NSF-approved stainless steel tops). Also, not to be overlooked, is that commercial vertical units can seem oppressively large (and loud) in small spaces making the space seem even smaller than it is.

Thank you for bringing these issues up. These are things I would not think by myself, although they are all very important to keep in mind.
I have 2 retail shops and lease a commercial kitchen in another location. Both retail stores are about 300 sf. One location has a small kitchen, about 250 sf but its cramped with packaging storage etc. so I leased space elsewhere. I deliver to one location and ship to the second. I also ship to numerous wholesale accounts. While its nice to think you can wait on customers and save labor while you are making chocolate its really impossible. You cannot be in the middle of making a ganache and have 3 sets of customers come in and all wait on you. Its very disruptive if you are in a busy location. ( Location, location) The plus side was when I did have help there on slow days they could help me. I have undercounter wine coolers for extra storage and garnite or stainless on top. I think its ideal to have a busy retail location and a kitchen in the back that you don't expect yourself to be the one ringing up the sale. But then you also have the problem of paying prime retail $$ for kitchen space.
Ideally I would split myself in two and work in the kitchen and work in the front...


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