Burmese Cuisine, Catering, commercial kitchen, Diverse Food Community, Entrepreneurs, Incubator, International Rescue Committee, Jordanian Cuisine, Kitchen Incubator, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake County, Spice Kitchen, Spice Kitchen Incubator, Sudanese Cuisine
Spice Kitchen Incubator is a new project of the International Rescue Committee, in partnership with Salt Lake County, for refugees and other disadvantaged community members interested in starting a full or part-time food business. Many refugees come to the U.S. having owned or operated their own food business in other countries or have food products they have been selling informally to friends or family. However, many need assistance in learning about U.S. food industry standards and small business development to turn their food business dream into reality. Spice Kitchen Incubator aims to provide the necessary skills for new entrepreneurs to build viable food businesses while adding to the diverse food community in Salt Lake City. The food industry is the lowest barrier industry for immigrants to enter. Spice Kitchen Incubator will be a community kitchen space which brings entrepreneurs together to develop successful food businesses, preserve their culinary traditions and share their talents with Salt Lake City community.
The National Business Incubation Association defines a business incubator as a comprehensive-assistance program targeted to help start-up and early-stage firms, with the goal of improving their chances to grow into healthy, sustainable companies. Spice Kitchen Incubator ensures participants have affordable access to commercial kitchen space to learn the basics in commercial kitchen operations, proper food handling procedures and steps involved in building a sustainable food business.
This program works in three stages: Pre-Incubation, Incubation and Graduation. The goals of Pre-Incubation, which lasts anywhere from 6 months to 1 year, include completing a business plan, product development, creating a brand identity and establishing a legal business. The Incubation phase provides the entrepreneur with guidance in qualifying for capital, sustaining a business and growing her profit margin. Upon Graduation, a participant will have met these and other benchmarks, moved beyond the Spice Kitchen Incubator location, and will become a member of the alumni community.
Spice Kitchen Incubator will provide subsidized commercial kitchen space which members in the Incubation and Alumni phases will pay a reasonable rate to use. Participants will be presented with industry-specific technical assistance and workshops to gain knowledge in areas such as marketing, product development and managing a food business. Another benefit of being a Spice Kitchen Incubator participant is that each entrepreneur will receive access to markets and market positioning by being connected to market opportunities and utilizing co-branding techniques.
We are currently renting a space at 629 South State Street, where the Spice Kitchen Incubator commercial kitchen and teaching space will be located.
History of Spice
Spice Kitchen Incubator began about four years ago when a group of refugee women spoke with Salt Lake County officials of their desire to open small restaurants and shops. Ze Xiao spent multiple hours each week counseling and advising these entrepreneurs. Recognizing there was a greater demand in the community for food entrepreneurship and commercial kitchen space, the IRC and Salt Lake County started speaking to local funders about turning Ze’s efforts into a full program. We built the program based on best practices from Culinary Incubator Kitchens from San Francisco and New York City.
Salt Lake County has been instrumental in the creation of Spice Kitchen Incubator. Ze min Xiao, Refugee Services Liaison at Salt Lake County, incorporated advising aspiring food entrepreneurs into her work for the past several years, but knew more time should be dedicated to their pursuits. The International Rescue Committee joined their efforts in Summer 2012 and the two organizations have partnered in this endeavor since.
We are holding an orientation for our 2014 Pre-Incubation class of entrepreneurs on January 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM. It will be at 629 South State Street. We have more information on our website, including RSVPing and how to obtain an application.
Beyond the benefit of providing Salt Lake City with delicious food from more regions of the world, Spice Kitchen seeks to provide sustainable futures for refugees and low to moderate income community members. By helping them create viable and lasting food businesses, they will be able to provide themselves and their families with a strong future. Along with that, Spice Kitchen Incubator will contribute positively to economic development. Salt Lake City’s Culinary Business Incubator Study, published in August 2013, stated that a facility the size of Spice Kitchen Incubator will create an average of 26 jobs each year.
Our major focus at this point is seeking support to build the commercial kitchen space at 629 South State Street. This means we need funds as well as in-kind donations such as furniture and commercial kitchen equipment and restaurant supplies. The building is a (beautiful) shell at this point, so it requires renovation for our purposes. Community outreach is another element which is important at this time. Support and engagement from our SLC community will greatly help us succeed. We have a few developing partnerships with schools and organizations who will provide monthly workshops for our participants; anyone with food industry and/or business knowledge is invited to contact us if they are interested in this opportunity.
Spice Kitchen Incubator is not a catering company, though we are happy to connect interested community members with our entrepreneurs to order a catered meal. The types of food available depend on which entrepreneurs are participants and capable of catering at the time. Currently, we have three entrepreneurs who cater. Their food is influenced by Sudanese, Burmese and Jordanian cuisine. They are still in product development phase, so any orders are helpful to perfect their menu and support them while they grow. To order, contact genevieve at firstname.lastname@example.org.