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In Gratitude: Incubator Kitchen Grows and So Do the Food Businesses

Hi from Rachel, the Founder of the Incubator Kitchen Collective!
 
We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide affordable commercial kitchen space and business support services to food entrepreneurs.
 
From my experience in growing my company, Grateful Grahams, I learned that starting your own food business is so much more than just having big mixers and lots of ovens. It’s about having the right support and guidance throughout the process. This is what inspired me to start an incubator kitchen in the first place. I knew that I had a wealth of knowledge and I wanted to give back and share my experiences with others.
 
When I first decided to start the incubator I was looking for a kitchen space for Grateful Grahams. I had reached out to Ken Rechtin, the interim director at Senior Services of NKY, who I knew had a 5,000-sq. ft. kitchen in Covington with eight ovens and a 60-qt. mixer. I thought that with such a big kitchen space I could utilize some of the kitchen for Grateful Grahams while helping other food entrepreneurs at the same time. I explained my idea to Ken and six weeks later we moved in and the Incubator Kitchen Collective was born.
 
After a little over three years in the Covington kitchen one of the biggest blessings happened. We had the opportunity to take over a 10,000-sq. ft. facility in the west side of Newport that was fully furnished with a ton of commercial-grade kitchen equipment. This new space gave us the ability to help even more food entrepreneurs than we already had.
 
When we moved to the Newport kitchen in November 2016 we had 11 food companies operating out of our facility. In January 2018 we are supporting over 35 food companies in our kitchen. We also support an additional seven companies at The Hatchery, our smaller kitchen inside St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
 
We support these entrepreneurs, not just with our kitchen space, but through sharing our expertise, answering questions and negotiating discounts with food distributors and printing companies. We offer food based education courses, marketing support, and so much more. From peer to peer mentoring and monthly business to business meetings we are really helping these companies flourish.
 
We have seen success with many companies incubating at our kitchen like Whirlybird Granola, which now distributes granola nationally, Brown Bear Bakery which recently opened a beautiful storefront in Over-the-Rhine, Babushka Pierogies which is a Findlay Market staple, and Skinny Piggy Kombucha, which now has its own manufacturing facility.
 
We’ve also had companies close their doors - but grateful for the opportunity to try their ideas. We are here to help people make their food dreams a reality but sometimes, with minimal expense, they realize that owning a food business just isn’t for them.
 
In February 2017 the City of Newport dedicated a day/proclamation to us calling it The Gratitude Collective day for our good work in our region and community. We are so excited to continue this work for many years to come!
 
-Rachel DesRochers