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How Does Kitchen Incubator Help Food Businesses?
How Does Kitchen Incubator Help Food Businesses?
Two food entrepreneurs cooking at the commercial kitchen space, Catapult Kitchen Incubator
August 6, 2020

Making delicious food is only one small part of running a successful food business. To start, you will also need to navigate forming a legal entity, gaining permits, securing insurance, growing a customer base, setting production, finding distribution channels, and more. Fortunately, you can join a kitchen incubator to jumpstart your journey.

Kitchen incubators exist to provide a place to start a business rooted in the culinary field, whether the business’s ultimate goal is to grow into a restaurant, bakery, or manufacturing facility. Using the resources that the kitchen provides, like commercial production space, permitting guidance, and sales avenuesa brand new business can start, make mistakes, pivot, grow their customer base, try new things, and eventually launch out into a brick-and-mortar location of their own. (If you’re looking for info on how to turn your idea into a legal entity, check out our free guide for food businesses). 

Kitchen incubators differ from commissary kitchens as they include more than just commercial kitchen space. But, first, let’s take a moment to discuss why using a commercial kitchen space is so key for a start-up food business.

Expanding the types of food produced

Commercial kitchen spaces allow businesses to expand the types of food produced. In the state of Florida, people may legally produce a limited amount of “cottage food” out of their homes. However, this law excludes a broad range of products, such as refrigerated goods, meat products, sauces, and much, much more. More info about what can and cannot be produced under this law can be found in this guide from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In a commercial kitchen, businesses can earn an annual food permit, which lifts these barriers. Our member, Carol Stanley of Liamugia Tinctures and Teas received a permit in our commercial kitchen, which allowed her to produce the full spectrum of her menu, including savory items like kale tarts and pastry-wrapped chicken-pineapple patties.

Expanding production capacity

Second, commercial kitchen spaces provide expanded production capacity. If your home kitchen is anything like mine, there is only so much that one can do in a small space. With multiple ovens, plenty of prep tables, and industrial-grade equipment, commercial-grade spaces collapse the timelines necessary to prepare a large amount of product. Teresa Baxter of We Jammin’ was sterilizing jars for her fun + funky preserves just a few at a time on her home stovetop when she was under the cottage law. Now, she’s a licensed member of Catapult and she leverages the equipment at the kitchen to sanitize dozens of jars at a time with our tilt skillet. Find out what a tilt skillet looks likes + view our entire equipment list here.  A commercial kitchen gives you space + equipment to take a budding food business from a home kitchen specialty to a production-ready operation.

 Kitchen area at the commercial kitchen space, Catapult Kitchen Incubator

The cookline at Catapult Kitchen Incubator

Expanding available sales avenues

Finally, a commercial kitchen expands available sales avenues. Under the cottage law, food producers are only able to sell their product to a limited audience. When a business wants to ship products to customers or sell to fellow businesses, they must secure an annual food permit in a commercial kitchen space. Avni Tilvawala of One Good Knife sought a permit in at Catapult for her chef-curated spice blends. With a permit in hand, she can mail her signature blends to customers who live all over the country, she can partner with chefs at local restaurants to use her flavors in their creations, or sell her products out of our pop-up window. Without a clean, commercial space, these sales avenues are closed to food businesses.

Outdoors sales venue at Catapult Kitchen Incubator

An outdoor area with a pop-up window for kitchen members

So, if you are ready to expand the types of food, production capacity, and available sales avenues for your business, a commercial kitchen is the right fit for you. 

Click the button below for more info + details about the Catapult Kitchen Incubator.

This blog was written by the team at Catapult Lakeland, an entrepreneur center in Lakeland Florida that exists to foster the growth of startups by providing education, resources, community and space.

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