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Thursday, July 3, 2014

What is a kitchen or culinary incubator?

A kitchen or culinary incubator is shared kitchen space for new or early-stage “food entrepreneurs.”  Many begin from home under Florida’s “Cottage Industry” Law. All hope to elevate their “cottage business” to the next level but that requires a larger, relatively inexpensive, professional facility. 

The concept of shared kitchen provides relatively inexpensive space and overhead (rent and utility) because costs are divided among users. An incubator adds the element of technical assistance (a little hand holding through the process) to the shared kitchen experience.

Equipment for a basic commercial kitchen costs at least $ 150,000 and depending on the area, hourly rents fluctuate between $ 17.50 and $ 25.00 per hour.

Making a product, be it grandmother’s cookie recipe or a killer salsa, is the easy part. Learning the legal, product-development or marketing elements  of the business is tough. No matter how great a product might be, if no one knows about it or if it’s hard to find, chances for success are zilch. Culinary or kitchen incubators offer reasonable options that include supplemental education that help entrepreneurs strengthen their business plans to navigate the intricacies of distribution and comply with regulatory procedures. A crucial component for “food entrepreneurs” is the ability to discover, at an early stage, if they have what it takes to get into the food business. Discovering that option, early on, saves potential “food entrepreneurs” money, headaches, heartaches and overall frustrations. 

Community Caring Center of Greater Boynton Beach is located at 410 East Boynton Beach Blvd. (Boynton Beach, Florida 3343).  The Center’s (561-364-9501) a nonprofit kitchen incubator program aimed at offering practical business training and mentoring.  The center is a licensed State of Florida, Department of Business and Professional Regulations, Hotel and Restaurant and Department of Agriculture approved facility, for the preparation and sale of food.  For information, appointments or to learn more about the center, contact Sherry Johnson, the Center’s Executive Director at 561- 386-4261.

In the Community Caring Center of Greater Boynton Beach, Inc., d/b/a The Secret Garden Café, a Culinary Incubator Program’s commercial kitchen, one finds   caterers, personal chefs, bakers, street vendors, cake decorators and producers of specialty food items such as condiments and candies. Kitchen space is shared and scheduled to accommodate individual needs. The fee-based system recognizes that entrepreneurs generate little or no income during the first five start-up years; therefore rental fees are lower than other commercial kitchens that may rent space to tenants on an hourly, daily or monthly basis.  Tenants at The Community Caring Center sign a kitchen booking agreement that details the initial requirements to rent space, including providing copies of business license from both  city and  county, food management or handler certificates and food vendor license from either or both Florida Department of  Business and Professional Regulations or  Department of Agriculture.

Chefs, bakers and caterers who prepare their food at the Community Caring Center of Greater Boynton Beach's culinary incubator,  can sell their creations at the Secret Garden Café in the Cafe/Bakery/Deli Departments. The Secret Garden cafe is perfect for High Teas, private dinner parties, wine pairing events, and small groups needing a special meeting room. Sunday Brunch, (beginning September 7, 2014) catered weddings and special events are also available.  For questions or reservations, the café can be reached at 561-752-8598.

Suzana Sagy Macario, SCORE Counselor




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