On my recent visit to San Francisco I had the pleasure of checking out KitchenTown which is a food-maker incubator kitchen in San Mateo, California. Focused upon engaging, equipping, and educating the food-maker who is ready to grow their business from a cottage food business to a more official entity, KitchenTown offers full service state of the art kitchen space for rent plus educational seminars and mentorships surrounding operations, launching and scaling the artisan food business.
You know how to craft a beautiful gluten-free pie with locally sourced ingredients but to grow, you need to know how to brand yourself, craft your mission statement, copyright your recipes, obtain legal advice and insurance, obtain your food permits, how to source ingredients more efficiently, identify your primary goals for your business … all this and more must be learned along the way so that you become an expert in not only your product, but all issues surrounding launching your particular product and category into targeted retail venues.
KitchenTown is also a great place to have business meetings, or simply get some work done in its creative and productive environment. This is a true incubator facility where food-makers can learn to launch their brands and scale production to meet growing demands from new retail customers. Scaling production is a key learning curve as the food-maker makes small adjustments and course corrections necessary to maintain the integrity of their product as well as their bottom line. At this stage of development self-distribution is the best and most affordable way to get to the hang of filling direct orders, meeting store receivers, as well as getting to know store buyers and particulars of their program, their merchandising challenges and opportunities in the brand’s category.
When I visited, KitchenTown was hosting a workshop – part of a series of business modules for food makers created by Oakland, California based Food Craft Institute, which are held throughout the bay area for aspiring and current food artisans digging into their entrepreneurial roles.
Artisan food-makers have abundant support and resources as the consumer demand for unique, locally grown and cultivated artisan foods continues to expand.