Food Incubation Center helps culinary entrepreneurs

Food Incubation Center helps culinary entrepreneurs

The Food Incubation Center, in tandem with a Business Development Bootcamp, also offered by StarkFresh, can help budding restaurateurs learn the basics of business ownership.


It can be an enticing gambit: You are a good cook, and people like the things you cook, so why not open a restaurant?

This seemingly simple business is actually quite difficult to get right, and an initiative with StarkFresh called the Food Incubation Center can help chefs learn how to be successful without the risk of investing in a full-scale operation.

“We offer a group of tools to help people who don’t know where to start,” Madisyn Hillyard at StarkFresh said. “It's an accessible way to start a business using a professional kitchen that is already set up and ready to go."

The program, in its second year, is in keeping with the mission of StarkFresh to “tackle the causes of hunger by creating realistic pathways out of poverty.”

The Food Incubation Center, in tandem with a Business Development Bootcamp, also offered by StarkFresh, can help budding restaurateurs learn the basics of business ownership.

As the program is still rather new, Hillyard said it may be too early to determine how many have gone on to open successful operations. “The important thing is that they get the experience, and they can review what they’re doing and what works and what doesn’t. Sometimes it’s only through hands-on experience that you can see what you may be doing wrong."

The Food Incubation Center offers business classes focused on financial concerns like budgeting, job costing, and understanding profit and loss statements.

There also is assistance with personal finances, understanding budgeting and financial therapy aimed at minimizing expenses and maximizing future savings.

Available food-safety classes can help people understand state and county compliance standards. Once a plan is in place, beginning business owners can get help with branding and marketing guidance to assist with future growth and success.

The fully equipped commercial kitchen is used by those who need a high-level space to prepare their food or other products before transportation elsewhere, as in a catering business or food truck. “We don’t have seating for the public,” Hillyard said, “though that may be something we do in the future.”

The kitchen is available in three-hour blocks of time at $45. In order to use the kitchen, Hillyard said people need to come and see the facility and make sure it will be something useful for what they plan to do. "You want to be sure it meets your needs before anything else."

After that, there are procedures and rules of use to be discussed and understood. At least one professional-level person, fully certified in Serve Safe guidelines, must be on hand when the kitchen is in use. Once those things are addressed, it’s a matter of scheduling kitchen time. There are currently about 15 users of the kitchen, Hillyard said.

The use of a professional kitchen is only a part of the equation in starting a business, and the Business Development Bootcamp at StarkFresh helps with the nuts and bolts of getting started successfully.

The bootcamp is a six-week course that helps develop a business plan and turn it into reality. The bootcamp helps to identify a potential market, helps discover one's own competitive advantage and pitch, business plan creation, business structure and financial checklists, financial literacy, finding and retaining employees, marketing and branding, and demystifying the process of finding startup funding.

For those newly entering the food hospitality segment, food-safety training also is available.


Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load