Artisanal food sales are on the rise and the sharing economy continues to surge. The economic potential for consumer packaged-foods is great, however scaling can be difficult due to high production costs and the lack of market access.
Once a homegrown food startup outgrows their small test kitchen, where can they turn? Enter the shared-use kitchen: a licensed commercial space that provides a pathway for food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses, without needing to invest in their own facility during a stage when capital and cash flow are a challenge. These kitchens have been spreading rapidly around the country with new and innovative models to support food entrepreneurship, economic development, and increase local food security.
In response to these trends and increasing industry demand for shared kitchen resources, The Food Corridor, Fruition Planning and Management, and Purdue Extension Services co-created the Shared Kitchen Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Planning, Launching, and Managing a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen
The Shared Kitchen Toolkit is a free, web-based resource that delivers guidance on feasibility and planning for new kitchen projects, as well as management practices for the day-to-day operations of shared-use kitchens. It also provides an overview of emerging kitchen models and highlights opportunities for kitchens to expand their community impact and enhance financial sustainability. It is available as a 166-page downloadable PDF, via The Food Corridor’s resources page.
The Toolkit is meant to guide the user through the various planning phases all the way to the launch and management of an existing kitchen. We know that building a kitchen isn’t a linear path by any means! The Toolkit can be referenced at any point in a facility’s development and re-visited even after launch. Toolkit sections include:
- Identifying Opportunities – Highlights potential rental and programming opportunities that can diversify revenue streams and expand community impact.
- Embarking on the Planning Process – Outlines the planning stages and guides readers through the process of clarifying and articulating their vision and outcome goals.
- Understanding Your Market – Demystifies the process of conducting market research and assessing community needs to determine if there is enough demand to support a kitchen facility.
- Service Planning – Describes common mission-serving and revenue-generating services provided by shared kitchens and outlines the process of researching service needs and opportunities.
- Developing Your Business Model and Plan – Offers tools for developing your business model and gives an overview of business structure considerations.
- Financial Planning – Describes the importance of diligent financial planning and provides suggestions on how to create financial forecasts.
- Funding Strategies and Prospects – Gives an overview of potential funding sources such as grants, loans, investments, and crowdfunding, as well as capital campaigns and sponsorship.
- Facility Design and Development – Discusses key considerations for every step of the development process, from choosing a site, to designing the kitchen, to the construction process.
- Brand and Marketing Strategy – Distills the essential elements of successful marketing for shared kitchens.
- Launching Your Kitchen – Outlines the key activities involved in opening your facility, from hiring staff to recruiting and onboarding renters.
- Management and Operations – Highlights the policies, procedures and management systems needed for to successful day-to-day operations.
- Kitchen Culture – Reflects on how kitchens create a collaborative environment for shared success.
The Toolkit was made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, North Central Region.
This project was made possible largely due to our Network for Incubator & Commissary Kitchen and greater kitchen community. All of our contributors pulled from extensive, direct experience researching, launching, and running shared kitchens across North America. A very hearty thank you goes out to our group of 16 contributors, who provided content, feedback, and support on the Toolkit.
- Kara Martin, Food Innovation Network
- Djenaba Johnson-Jones, Hudson Kitchen
- Iso Rabins, Forage Kitchen
- Dale Akins, The Chef’s Workshop
- Tom Phibbs, The Chef’s Workshop
- Cindi Thompson, Crafted Kitchen
- Phil Deng, MarketShare
- Zack McMath – Acadiana Food Hub & Commercial Kitchen
- Luca Carnevale – Hope & Main
- Annalisa Pearson – Business Incubator Center
- Hannah Edlefsen – Hacienda Community Development Corp. (Portland Mercado)
- Casey Steele – Square One Kitchens
- Lauren Perez – Sae Kitchen
- Kris Ohleth – Garden State Kitchen
- Natalie Vandenburgh – The Good Acre
- Ross Graham – Food Liability Insurance Program
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