Build a commissary kitchen and they will come.
“Fast Eddy” Maurin is famous with barbecue pitmasters for his Cookshack wood pellet smokers, which are widely used in the restaurant industry and on the competition circuit because the wood pellets burn more efficiently and help reduce cook times.
Now Maurin is betting a commissary can help mobile food vendors save time and money: His Food Truck Central at 100 S. James St. in the West Bottoms is located not far from Restaurant Depot, where folks in the food industry already shop for ingredients and other supplies.
Food Truck Central will provide a place for food truck owners and others to prep and cook meals.
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The commissary is located near downtown, which is filling up with millennials, a segment of the population that is currently powering food delivery services.
While the ever-growing number of Kansas City food trucks are an obvious customer, the space can also accommodate caterers, artisan food makers and chefs who want to test out the “ghost” restaurant concept, multiple concepts that operate out of a single kitchen.
“I think this is the future of food service,” Maurin says, adding his facility will operate 24/7 year-round.
Maurin consulted with the owner of the 120-door truck dock Chicago Smoke Kitchen before embarking on his latest venture. Maurin and engineer-business partner Chris Treat have done most of the work themselves to turn a once-greasy machine shop into a new commissary kitchen.
The 740-square-foot space includes a Vulcan six-burner gas stove and double convection oven, a char broiler, a flat-top grill and tilt skillet. There’s also plenty of stainless-steel prep space and a dishwashing line. Renters need to bring their own pots and pans, and they are responsible for their own cleanup.
Food Truck Central will also offer other business-related amenities, such as mailboxes with electronic entry so business owners can receive shipments, as well as storage rooms, office cubicles, a place to deposit used cooking oil and a camera-monitored lot with access to docks for unloading cargo.
Cost is $24 an hour for three people working on two appliances. Or trucks could opt to use the space to wash up and dump trash and oil for $200 a month.
“We really want to partner with people,” Maurin says. “We can save them hours they can’t buy back.”