7 Shared Kitchen Incubator Programs Supporting Growing Food Businesses

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There’s nothing better than enjoying delicious food crafted by a local producer. You can taste the love and experience the care that has gone into it in every bite. And you know that the money is staying in your community. 

At The Hello Food mission is to enable efficiency, growth, and innovation in local food. That is why the more community kitchens we can support through our resources and technology, the more we are living out our mission to support local producers. 

What better way to celebrate local community-focused businesses than to look at the incubator programs run out of shared kitchens across the country that are on the frontlines giving small businesses a fighting chance to compete?

These forward-thinking programs offer training, guidance, support, and funding, as well as access to the kitchen space and equipment needed to take a food business to the next level. And these kitchens are oftentimes the center of the local food economy, where relationships are made and partnerships are forged.

Now that’s something we can raise an artisanally made glass of kombucha to!

7 Incubator Programs Driving the Shared Kitchen Industry

Last year, our report on kitchen incubators and shared kitchen facilities in the US revealed a growing industry embracing innovation and supporting a diverse community of entrepreneurs.

A year later a lot has changed, but the shared kitchen incubator sector soldiers on and continues to adapt and grow. Providing support with amazing programs that are helping thousands of businesses adapt, survive, and even thrive through these unique and challenging times.

To celebrate this triumph over adversity, we wanted to showcase some of the industry’s leading incubators – not only to highlight the great work they’re doing but also to inspire the next generation of food industry entrepreneurs and investors to go after their dreams. 

To show that even when things seem as though they couldn’t be tougher, where there is energy and drive to do something meaningful, you will always find examples of success.

Cleveland Central Kitchen

Opened in 2013, Ohio’s Cleveland Central Kitchen is a hub for creators and innovators in the local food scene. To date, over 500 businesses have moved through the kitchen’s Incubator program with more than 400 products launched.

The program works on three levels depending on what stage your business is at: 

  • For those dipping their toe in and wanting to learn, the Craft Food Classroom offers courses and real-world insights from experienced industry professionals into what it takes to make it. 
  • For those ready to launch, the Incubator includes access to the shared kitchen, training, and funding to help you launch your product and take it to market.
  • For businesses with an established product that are looking to scale, the Food Hub gives you everything you need to take it to the next level. You are set up with your own specialized production space, access to co-packing, and all the storage and logistics infrastructure you need to grow and thrive.

Live Local Collective

In support of local farmers and producers who have been affected by lockdowns and consumer fear, Cleveland Central Kitchen relaunched its Love Local Collective program in March 2021. 

This online farmers market connects local producers directly with the public, allowing them to safely browse and shop for locally-grown fruit and veggies and locally produced products like cheeses, deli meats, and preserves for delivery. 

The program includes subscription models for recurring bundles to give shoppers maximum convenience and flexibility.

CommonWealth Kitchen

CommonWealth Kitchen is home to over 50 caterers, wholesalers, food truckers, and local producers. With the goal of supporting start-ups and scaling food businesses of all kinds, the shared kitchen space in Dorchester, near Boston, has a long list of successful alumni. 

One such graduate is Batch Ice Cream, a producer of artisan frozen goodies handmade using natural ingredients. Husband and wife team Dave and Deb LeRiche eschew the gums and stabilizers used in mass-produced ice cream in favor of fresh ingredients blended a whole lotta local love.

Applications are reviewed twice a year on April 1st and October 1st and the team lists a strong entrepreneurial spirit and an existing customer base or clear target market, among other desirable qualities in applicants.

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