When Sarah Warren, head baker and owner of S’more Bakery, decided to start her small business centered on the classic American marshmallow-based treat, she knew it wasn’t practical to pay for her own commercial kitchen. But Warren also knew that she would never be able to expand her business if she kept baking her s’mores out of her tiny home kitchen.
So she turned to The Entrepreneur Space, a kitchen incubator in Long Island City, Queens. Aspiring food start-ups can rent commercial kitchen space in incubators to manufacture products or cook dishes for their businesses.
“It’s a great professional kitchen space for food entrepreneurs like me who can’t afford to actually buy their own kitchen,” Warren says.
Elizabeth Kalin, chef and owner of Betty Brooklyn, also runs her catering business out of the Entrepreneur Space. She was drawn to the incubator’s flexible rental policies, which allow her to book the kitchen as she needs it for catering gigs.
But the incubator does have its limitations. Sharing kitchen space with several other businesses requires good communication among the various bakers and chefs, Warren notes.
“One of the biggest challenges is realizing that it’s a communal space,” she says. “The hardest [part] is learning to communicate with the other people working in the kitchen, making sure everyone respects one another, that everyone cleans their own dishes.”
For Kalin, hauling ingredients and other supplies between her home and the incubator kitchen is often a hassle.
“There are a lot of challenges,” Kalin says. “It’s mostly just working harder than you ever have in your entire life.”