Kitchen incubators, also known as culinary incubators, are small business units that provide space and equipment for start-up food enterprises. Business owners can rent these professional kitchen spaces at reasonable rates and obtain necessary licensing more easily than they would be able to for home kitchens due to liability concerns. Culinary incubators are also beneficial because they provide a space where food entrepreneurs can collaborate and share ideas. Depending on the incubator, additional services can be included, such as financial consulting. The overall concept of a kitchen incubator is to provide a space where a business can grow and eventually reach a stage where it can invest in its own kitchen facilities.
According to Econsult Solutions, as of 2013 there are more than 150 active kitchen incubators in the United States. WRC’s Vision Plan for a Creative District in Wilmington mentions how different forms of creative placemaking would benefit the city. The plan focuses on finding additional space for both creative production (studios, workshops and shared facilities) and creative consumption (galleries, performance venues, and event spaces). Vacant spaces in downtown Wilmington can be renovated to create production spaces, like culinary incubators, to involve and empower community residents.
Delaware Kitchen Share is a local successful kitchen incubator. It is located in New Castle and was founded in 2010 by Antoinette Stanley. Compliments on Stanley’s baking skills sparked the process of creating a shared-used commercial kitchen space where food producers can legally prepare, process, cook and store their creations. The space is rented out by the hour and provides entrepreneurs with a wide range of equipment such as a walk-in cooler and freezer, a three-compartment warewashing sink, a 20-quart mixer, natural gas burners and much more.
There are many food entrepreneurs in Delaware that would benefit from the implementation of additional kitchen incubators in urban areas like Wilmington. Dan Sheridan, owner of Wilmington Pickling Company, started his business in 2013 with two of his co-workers. Currently, Sheridan is the only employee at Wilmington Pickling Company, whose motto is “Wilmington Local. Small Batch. Craft Pickles.” Sheridan uses unique recipes to provide handpicked, hand-cut, hand-packed and hand-sealed pickled products. His creations can be found at the Rodney Square Farmers Market in Wilmington on Wednesdays as well as at La Fia Bistro and Market in Wilmington, Janssen’s Market in Greenville, and additional locations. The pickling business production initially started at Delaware Kitchen Share.
Located in Philadelphia, the Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises (The Enterprise Center) supports both established and start-up food businesses and food processors in need of commercial kitchen space and technical assistance. As a part of its business-acceleration initiatives, The Enterprise Center provides access to capital, building capacity, business education and economic development opportunities to high-potential minority entrepreneurs. Della Clark, President, The Enterprise Center, will discuss the benefits of available commercial kitchen space for food entrepreneurs at WRC’s next Creative Chat on November 13.
Check out successful kitchen incubators and incubator initiatives throughout the nation including Union Kitchen in Washington D.C. and CropCircle Kitchen Inc. in Boston: