celebrated its first birthday a few days ago. Already, the shared kitchen/culinary business incubator in downtown York has spawned 14 new and expanding companies and created 32 jobs. But Program Manager Aeman Bashir has no time to rest on her laurels. She has nine companies in the pipeline and fields several calls a week, she reports.
For most new culinary ventures, access to a licensed commercial kitchen – which can easily run into hundreds of thousands of dollars, is a major stumbling block. YorKitchen, located at Central Market, is a shared commercial kitchen available for rent by the hour to food producers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Before a new food entrepreneur ever dons an apron, YorKitchen spends an average of four months advising on business planning, product development, marketing and, especially, navigating the complex licensing and permitting requirements for food makers.
Bashir proudly rattles off some of the companies that have already launched or grown under YorKitchen’s aegis, including Hattie’s Gourmet Cheesecake
, All About Brownies
and Neilly's Foods
. Several of the graduates are expanding their product lines and two are looking to acquire permanent storefront locations, she says.
Perhaps the biggest success story so far is Nuts About Granola
, which is producing 10,000 pounds of granola per month at the shared kitchen after being becoming the sole supplier to a large South American yogurt maker.
YorKitchen has also made a huge impact on small farms in rural areas surrounding York, says Bashir, by enabling them to create “value-added” products such as jellies and pies that can be sold long past the harvest.
Source: Aeman Bashir, YorKitchen
Writer: Elise Vider