Another reason for creating a commercial kitchen at Florida Market (or Eastern Market for that matter)
Cross-posted from Capital City Market
In the "Retail planning and Florida Market" paper, I suggested food-related business development operations beyond straight up restaurants and retail be incorporated into the planning mix for the retail-wholesale food district. From the document:
• home meal preparation and assembly (franchise programs such as Let’s Dish or Thyme Out);
• commercial kitchen rentable to caterers and food processors (examples include La Cocina in San Francisco and the Artisan Baking Center in New York City);
• demonstration and training kitchen for commercial and public use, i.e., programs by the Office of Aging, Department of Health, Cooperative Extension Service of UDC/USDA, schools (examples include La Boqueria in Barcelona, and two separate facilities at the River Market in Little Rock);
• hospitality-culinary education.
So today's article in the Washington Post food section about an underground market "DC Grey Market: An underground opportunity for vendors"), which is "underground" because vendors sell food items not prepared in a commercial kitchen, is a confirmation of the need to provide low cost commercial kitchen options as a form of entrepreneurship and business development programming on the part of the city--it demonstrates demand, and it's a lot better to provide such facilities rather than discourage people from doing it properly (in supervised, clean facilities).
The premier model is the facility at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks in Athens Ohio, which offers a variety of services to small- and medium-sized food-related businesses.
Like many of the vendors at the market, not to mention at similar underground markets popping up around the country, none of the three men had acquired business licenses or submitted to food-safety inspections.
Shapiro said the market’s lack of a licensing requirement was a big draw for him. “Everything I have here is totally safe,” he said. “My kitchen is invariably cleaner than most restaurant kitchens.”
That the sales technically are not regulated seems only to heighten the allure. New vendors have enlisted for each of the three DC Grey markets held to date. Attendance has ranged from 355 to 1,100.
Still, someone can say his home kitchen is cleaner than restaurant kitchens and that may be, but it's unlikely a home kitchen is kept to food processing and manufacturing cleanliness standards.
- Part 2: Working out of a commercial kitchen
- Part 3: What's the minimum an Underground Market vendor would need to be legit?
- Part 4: Selling at the traditional farmers markets
- Part 5: Selling to grocery stores
The Munchie Musing post makes a good point, that helping businesses develop isn't just about the kitchen, it's also about managing the licensing and vending process. From the post:
La Cocina provides this type of support for people who are looking to start some sort of food business. Their building contains a commercial kitchen which is a requirement for making and selling foods. Besides the physical space, they also provide support in the form of assistance with permits, funding, source vendors, etc. With this support, people, mostly women, are able to start legitimate businesses, create jobs, and support themselves, their families and communities.