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Question DetailsAsked on 9/10/2011

Is there anyone in Portland, Oregon I can talk to about constructing a commercial kitchen?

I've given up trying to find a commercial kitchen (aka commissary) that has space time and cold storage available. I've resolved to build my own and have space selected, but one landlord told me that food prep was prohibited on her property because health code upgrades cost $10,000. I'm sure they don't really cost that much but they'll cost less by an experienced installer. I'm looking for someone who has submitted a commissary plan to the multnomah county health department before which passed final inspection. Experience with a recent plan would be preferred.

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2 Answers



At the bottom of the website site, there is an architect finder. When you place your zip code you will see a list of licensed architects near you, and what their specialties are.

An archtiect expereinced in commercial design and/or industrial design will be able to assist you. The first answer they can give you is the actual costs of your locality for permits, inspections and change-of-use (if it applies) to confirm your landlord's fears about a kitchen. By having this information on hand, your landlord may be willing to work with you if she learns her information is not accurate or that you are working with a licensed professional. (Architecturally designed buildings sell for higher.)

The next benefit of this architect is they will be able to help with site selection, or if you are going to put an addition on, will help ensure the location and size you want will meet your needs.

Third, commercial architects are familiar with commercial builders / installers, and often are up-to-date on equipment and options that will make your kitchen more functional, and may suggest things you did not consider. They can oversee the construction and costs to ensure you get your money's worth.

Many people are concerned about using an architect because they fear the costs associated, but a good architect often can employ cost control measures and quality control measures, while designing and recommending needed options that result in a less expensive and more useful space when completed. Many builders and installers will tell you to save your money; they can do it all. But as an owner, it is invaluable to have a 3rd party to confirm the contract is being followed and to ensure the quality of the work. Good builders don't mind working with architects, and owners often find the peace of mind alone was worth the cost.


Answered 9 years ago by Kenny Johnson


People that sell commercial kitchen equipment usually have a designer/engineer on staff who can answer most of your questions.

Your landlord just may be right about the health code upgrades. Most commercial kitchens will require a grease separator that needs to be installed underground. It's a big steel container and can be about the size of a clothes dryer.
All the water that collects in the kitchen drains (from sinks, dishwashers, etc) will need to drain into that grease separator, before the water is allowed to enter the city's sanitary sewer system.
You may need "indirect" drains under your sinks and other appliances too. This requires cutting and breaking up the concrete around the drains and replacing them with a floor sink which is installed about level with the floor and then the concrete will need to be replaced around the floor sink.
If you're going to cook on the premesis, then you'll likely need to have a kitchen fume hood installed, including a fire suppression system.
$10,000 for these upgrades is not unusual at all. In fact, it might be cheap. I'm guessing your landlord has looked into the issue before and actually knows the costs and necessary upgrades.
My advice is to contact a supplier of commercial kitchen equipment. Talk with their designer and tell him of your plans for the property. You may be able to talk him into visiting the site and give you an idea which upgrades will actually be required.

Source: J. G. Hamm Construction - Ypsilanti, Michigan

Answered 9 years ago by JGHamm

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