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10 Business Incubators Helping Entrepreneurs Cook Up Local Food

October 7, 2014 |

Photo courtesy of Robert Egger.

Photo courtesy of Robert Egger.

From sourcing to licensing to food safety, the learning curve for making and marketing local food can be steep.  According to NPR, there are now over 200 incubators across the country now working to help new local food startups succeed. 

Here are ten you should know. 

Capital Kitchens, Austin, TX    

With 3,600 square feet of commercial kitchen, Capital Kitchens, founded in 2012, offers not only prepping, cooking and storage space but also event space giving startups a place to share their new product. They offer commissary accommodation for food truck businesses as well as a business center that allows each company internet access and a place to work on the administrative side of things. 

Chef’s Shared Kitchen, Mesa, AZ     

A 24/7 operation, Chef’s Shared Kitchen was established in 2007 and offers Arizona’s local food businesses commercial kitchen space and storage. They provide information on beginning a commercial food business with all the necessary insurance, health department and state licensing details. 

Commercial Kitchen 305, Miami, FL       

Commercial Kitchen 305 has 1500 square feet of fully licensed commercial kitchen in Miami’s medical district. They not only offer space but help startups market their products and insist on locally sourced organic ingredients. They help store fronts and food truck businesses through the licensing process and offer by-the-hour rental of their facilities. Commercial Kitchen 305 also offers a contained certified organic room for processing of raw foods. 

Farm Kitchen, Seattle, WA   

Located on an 18 acre organic farm just outside of Seattle, the Farm Kitchen offers sustainable local food businesses storage, prep and cooking space in a 1,000 square foot facility. By renting their space around the clock and advising startups on how to become a part of the local food scene, the Farm Kitchen promotes their own services while aiding other local food businesses.

Kitchen Local, Amesbury, MA     

A 1,200 square foot kitchen with cold and dry storage, a catering kitchen and a bakery kitchen, Kitchen Local provides local food companies a place to create or expand their business with low overhead and minimal risks. Kitchen Local offers cooking classes as well as opportunities for the public to sample the food produced in the kitchen. Currently Kitchen Local has 17 clients on their incubator list. 

La Cocina, San Francisco, CA     

Partnering with area banks and financial institutions, La Cocina offers commercial kitchen space for low income food company owners. Their preferred clientele are new immigrants and female entrepreneurs, and so far 13 companies have graduated from the program with 24 small businesses currently in the incubation process. 

PREP, Atlanta, GA     

Working with local, state and federal programs and departments, the PREP food incubator offers commercial kitchen space, a meat producer kitchen, a dedicated gluten-free kitchen, 36 certified food truck bases, a wholesale production facility, a studio kitchen, a conference room and a business center. Space is available for member use and the facility offers classes, workshops and seminars on everything from food preparation to food truck operational basics. PREP promotes 23 incubator businesses on their website. 

The Plant, Chicago, IL    

Housed in a 93,000 square foot former meat packing building in the economically depressed Back of the Yards district in Chicago, The Plant vertical farm and food incubator is a nonprofit founded in 2011. The Plant currently houses eight food businesses including local urban farms and companies using local products. A recent Kickstarter campaign will fund a new 4,300 square foot shared commercial kitchen space as well as a living lobby space. 

Union Food Lab, Harlem, NY     

Newly founded in 2013, the Union Food Lab offers Harlem based chefs 600 square feet of kitchen space with cold and dry storage. The Lab offers shift-based leases as well as mentoring opportunities. Union Food Lab welcomes those who have been in prison into their program and provides community education for area families. Union Food Lab partners with local nutrition and education programs to offer their incubator businesses several levels of assistance. They feature six current incubator projects on their website. 

Union Kitchen, Washington D.C.    

Union Kitchen, established in 2012, is a 7,300 square feet former warehouse in the nation’s capital. Offering both kitchen space and catering opportunities, the Union Kitchen currently has 12 active incubator businesses. Partnering with local grocery stores and food based organizations, Union Kitchen offers its members product promotion and transportation to local markets. 

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