In October of 2019, Chef Andrew Knezovich decided to leave the restaurant industry to start a food truck. As he embarked on this new business endeavor, the process invited him to pinpoint a demand for commissary kitchens within Southeastern Virginia.
In April of 2020, Chef Andrew and his wife Dr. Blanco-Knezovich, opened My Commissary Kitchen, a 2,100 square foot shared kitchen space at 3351 Chesapeake Blvd, Norfolk, Virginia. Established during the height of the pandemic, the two were faced with the new and unprecedented challenges that accompanied food businesses at the time as cities were shutting down and reorganizing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The couple shared that they were actually the first virtual inspection for their local health department. Despite these new obstacles, their certified kitchen services and consultation model has supported the success of more than 80 culinary businesses, and their growth enabled them to bring on a partner to My Commissary Kitchen in August of 2021, Chef Ryan Tyler Payne.
Chef Andrew shared, “Our focus in 2021 was to help food businesses navigate the challenges of being open and to find opportunities to elevate the food in our area.” With that vision in mind, the couple founded 757 Fork You in October of 2021. The nonprofit organization, “partners with neighboring venues and coordinates events to provide opportunities for culinary professionals and local artisans to sell together indoors and generate revenue in the winter months,” he explained. Events are held monthly at The 757 Fork You, inviting the community to experience the unique diversity of local food, accompanied by a food drive. 757 Fork You has partnered with the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and Eastern Shore. They donate all nonperishables collected at each event to help address food deserts in the area.
“Our focus in 2022 is to continue to innovate opportunities for food businesses to grow in our community.” The team is currently developing their second shared kitchen, a 20,000 square foot space, located at 2400 Alabama Avenue, Norfolk, VA. The new addition will offer services such as incubator kitchens, labeling with shipping, a business center, and a test kitchen demo space, immediately expanding the possibilities for food and food businesses in Hampton Roads, VA.
Words of advice from My Commissary Kitchen:
“Our greatest advice to any similar business model is to encourage continued collaboration with your local health department and city departments. By collaborating regularly, your business remains current with requirements and recommendations, and you will be able to serve your clients as an informed resource.”