ORGANIC OFFERINGS: Clara Botero works carries a tray of her cookies at Commercial Kitchen 305, where she bakes her organic treats for sale online and to local establishments. She says the managers are like sports coaches — teaching her the ropes and encouraging her when she needs a push. CHARLES TRAINOR JR. / MIAMI HERALD STAFF
Host's note: In case you missed it in Business Monday this week, here is a cool story about culinary entrepreneurs -- both the ones running or planning to launch kitchen incubators, such as Right Space Management's Carolina Rendeiro, and the small businesses that use them.
Update: And here is a very cool update to this story. The founding executive director of La Cocina, a San Francisco non-profit that provides funding, kitchen space and operational support to help low-income people start their own food businesses, is in South Florida developing a large-scale kitchen incubator in downtown Opa-locka with the Opa-locka Community Development Corp. Valeria Perez-Ferreiro said her Thrive Kitchen team also has partnerships with both 50 Eggs and MDC's Miami Culinary Institute on the project. Perez-Ferreiro is looking forward to hatching success stories like entrepreneurs who started at La Cocina and went on to open their own brick and mortar cafes, restaurants and production kitchens. Stay tuned!
By Ana Veciana-Suarez
Clara Botero, a self-proclaimed health foodie, has been baking for others since she was a child. So when she needed extra income after a divorce, she began looking for shared commercial kitchen space for her burgeoning company, Dulce Bean.
Two months ago she found it in a nondescript former restaurant in North Miami Beach, where she whips ups gluten-free products like Organic Wheat and Gluten Free Chocolate Ganache Peanut Butter Cake and Dark Chocolate Almond Thins to sell online and to local coffee shops and health food stores.
Her dream: “To eventually have a place of my own.”
Across town, Eva Alcaraz-Arango rents space from a commercial bakery in far West Kendall for her business Gazpacho Alcaraz, the Drinkable Salad. Her gazpacho, a cold, tomato-based Spanish soup that features green peppers and cucumbers, has done well enough that her work space has grown to include her own room — she still shares a large refrigeration unit — a special blender she brought from Europe, and an industrial vegetable peeler.
Her product is sold by Epicure, The Fresh Market, Delicias de España and other gourmet coffee shops, bakeries and markets, and her business was selected as one of 100 finalists in the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest, which recognizes innovators and start-ups. She, too, dreams of a place of her own.
As South Florida’s food trade simmers into national recognition and food-preneurs try to catapult their products into bigger markets, companies are cropping up to provide shared kitchen space and advice on everything from license applications to social media marketing.
Dubbed kitchen incubators, these spaces enable a new business to make and package foods that meet strict preparation and sanitation standards for a fraction of what it would cost a starting entrepreneur to outfit her own commercial kitchen.