Sussex Kitchen Incubator welcomes new food startups
GEORGETOWN – The Sussex County Kitchen Incubator is now shaking and baking.
Located on the Georgetown campus of Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC), the Kitchen, which opened late this spring, is a cooperative venture between the college and Sussex County and is intended to address the needs of small businesses who require kitchen and storage facilities that are state-licensed and certified before they can do commercial food service.
“Right now, we have four active tenants and 12 others who are in the process of applying,” said chef manager Jim Richards, who expects to have a grand opening later this summer.
The venture is also in the process of retaining a marketing consultant to help expand its customer base.
The kitchen is intended to operate much in the same way as do facilities that rent out office space on a subscription basis. Although multiple businesses can use the kitchen by scheduling non-conflicting time spots, Richards said there is space for three tenants to work there simultaneously.
“In our county planning process, we determined there was a need to support the local hospitality industry with a resource center,” Sussex County Economic Development Director William Pfaff said in announcing the program earlier this year. “It can be used for a small catering business getting off the ground or a farmer wanting to add value by taking food products to market or by a local food bank. Now someone in Sussex wanting to get into the hospitality business has a resource.”
Not only does the incubator allow small food businesses to establish themselves without having to own space and buy expensive equipment, some businesses, such as food truck operators, are legally required to have an association with a commercial kitchen.
“We’ve often worked with Sussex County on joint programs, and we had kitchen facilities which we weren’t fully using, so we agreed to do a lease with them,” DTCC Vice President and Campus Director Bobbi Barends said, adding that the space was upgraded and additional equipment is still being installed. “Right now, we are working on plans where the business operators can access the space 24/7. However, the campus is presently open only during normal business hours, and some tenants may need early-morning access.”
As part of the agreement, DTCC students will be able to continue to use the kitchen for projects, and the college may also lend support in giving food business workshops for the tenants.
“Right now, we are just getting started, but eventually we will get more involved in working with some tenants to help them be more successful in their businesses,” Richards said.
Initial costs for startups or small businesses who need the space is $300 monthly for the first 15 hours of using the space and $24 for each additional hour. For shortage usage of three or more hours, the fee is $35 an hour. There are also arrangements for tenants to rent space to store supplies, including those that need cold storage.
Businesses interested in finding out more about the kitchen incubator can make online inquiries at https://sussexkitchende.com.