What better way to bring people and businesses together than through their stomachs? Rachel DesRochers, founder of the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen found a way to do just that while also fulfilling her dream of opening a space for local foodies to launch their food businesses.
It all began when Senior Services of Northern Kentucky (SSNK) no longer had use for their 5,000 square-foot industrial kitchen basement, and offered it to DesRochers for her growing vegan graham cracker business, Grateful Grahams. While DesRochers’ burgeoning business was outgrowing her home kitchen space, it wasn’t big enough to fill the overwhelming SSNK space, with its eight commercial ovens, 60-quart mixer and giant kettles.
That’s when DesRochers developed the idea for the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen, which is a shared space that allows for hourly kitchen space rental and mentoring services. “The idea of small businesses having a chance to grow is what really fueled the idea,” says DesRochers. “I love community and bringing people together; it works when we all work together.”
Today, the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen is home to five women-owned businesses in addition to Grateful Grahams: The Delish Dish, owned by Mavis Linnemann-Clark, a personal chef/caterer; Love & Fluff Marshmallows, a gourmet handmade marshmallow company; Piebird Sweet and Savory Specialties, making specialty pies; Whirlybird Granola, a small-batch natural granola business; and Evergreen Holistic Learning Center, a nonprofit organization with programs to show inner-city youth the origins of their food. Each company has its own space, however, the business owners do collaborate on events, according to DesRochers.
In fact, teamwork is a requirement to be a business at the incubator. “I created an application asking questions such as, ‘What are your ideal days to work?’ to ‘What is your favorite meal to eat?'” explains DesRochers. “This isn’t just a kitchen; it’s a community of people working toward creating their biggest dream job. We coordinate events, borrow sugar, ask questions to other renters and we all get along and love being here. That is what will make this work right now and over time.”
DesRochers says she loves that the incubator is helping other businesses grow, and that it’s also boosting her own business. “I have always rented kitchen space from other businesses; it helps so much when you can share the space,” says DesRochers. “It helps keep costs down, there is always someone to bounce ideas off of, and there is a support team built right into your space.”
There are two ways to rent the space: by the hour and by the day. Currently, though, there are only hourly rates available due to its day time slots being full. “People have to be flexible and know that it isn’t really working the average 9a.m.-5p.m. but perhaps 6a.m.-9a.m. slots or 7p.m.-11:30p.m. slots,” DesRochers explains.
DesRochers says the response to the kitchen has been quite positive so far. “The kitchen has sparked a lot of other incubator talk,” says DesRochers. “We have had great press and great responses from other foodies about what a great idea this is.”
As for the future, DesRochers is hoping for more events. She’s starting with an open house event planned for February 1st, 12-4p.m. “Our goal is to keep bringing new people into the space, helping businesses to grow, and pulling our resources together to save money and time,” she adds. “This isn’t about just me, it’s about how food is created and shared.”
To learn more, visit the Northern Kentucky Incubator Kitchen on Facebook.