Public Market's shared kitchen may get food startups cooking
For aspiring chefs, it's not hard to whip up passion for their craft. However, finding funding to open a kitchen of their own can be a stickier situation.
To help budding cooks ease the stress of startup costs, Pittsburgh Public Market is launching Market Kitchen, a shared commercial cooking space, at its Strip District location.
“We all know the hardest part about starting a food business is getting the brick and mortar,” says Kelly James, kitchen manager of Pittsburgh Public Market, founded by Neighbors in the Strip. “It takes up so much money, and it puts you so far behind the eight-ball starting a business.
“This is so wonderful, because these businesses have a fully licensed kitchen to work out of.”
The kitchen, expected to open Sept. 15, was made possible thanks to $600,000 in funding secured through the Mary Hillman Jennings Foundation, the Allegheny County Development Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Community Services and a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $11,000 in July.
“Pittsburgh just rallied,” James says. “Pittsburgh is a great city for Kickstarter. Everyone wants to see everyone succeed.”
The space, behind a door in the corner of the market, will be rented out to small, start-up businesses certified by the Allegheny County Health Department on an hourly basis. It will feature walk-in coolers, combination and convection ovens, mixers and multiple work stations. The kitchen will be open 24 hours a day, every day.
The Market Kitchen will charge chefs $17.50 per hour through a pre-pay system. The shared space allows for two businesses to use it at once. Memberships are available for $100 a year, which gives access to the Pittsburgh Public Market's promotions, vendor space and other perks. Locked on-site storage is extra.
A second phase of the project will involve bringing the kitchen out into the market for cooking demos, classes and other projects.
“It's just a great opportunity for small businesses to start at their own pace and grow,” James says.
James has an intimate understanding of the challenges of small-business ownership. She owned Sugar Cafe, which lasted two years in Dormont before closing. She describes that time as “kicking and scratching every single day just to pay the electricity bill.”
“It was just so difficult,” she says. “Looking back, our business was successful; people loved it. It isn't enough. To pay that rent and to pay that loan back you built that kitchen from, it's so difficult, especially in the food business to make ends meet.”
She envisions Market Kitchen as helping entrepreneurs go on to open their own storefronts, while others might be content to use the kitchen for years to come. James already has a list of interested businesses, including Mix Salad Concept, founded by Rachael Bane and Lia Vaccaro. The company will offer on-site delivery of specialty salads to Pittsburgh-area businesses.
“We're really excited to be working with the Market Kitchen,” Bane says. “It feels like a great environment to be as food entrepreneurs.”
The Strip District location is ideal for the companies that intend to target businesses in the area. The ladies plan to use the kitchen about 20 hours a week and sell their salads Saturdays at the market.
“It's an ideal place for us,” Vaccaro says. “We think it's going to be a cool experience to work with other food businesses. This is a really cool way collaborate with other businesses in Pittsburgh.”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- RB Williams believes he’s making seamless transition to Steelers
- LaBar: Sting making history fighting for WWE title
- Kanye, Cyrus and Minaj provide memorable moments at VMAs
- No certainty for Pirates’ call-up veterans
- ‘Super giant’ natural gas field found off Egypt in Mediterranean Sea
- Rossi: Continuing legend of Pirate Ray
- Steelworkers scoff at ATI earnings claim
- Animal welfare groups see opportunities in dialogue about Vick signing
- New Kensington firemen honor fallen brother, ‘hero’
- Attorney’s skill, love of sports benefited athletes
- Flash!: Savor Pittsburgh, Space Art