kitchen incubator models

from U.S. Kitchen Incubators - An Industry Snapshot by Econsult Solutions


  • Kitchen incubators come in a variety of forms. The most common is a facility with kitchens, prep spaces, and baking equipment, including some type of loading facilities and cold/dry storage. Some are more heavily focused on baking than others. Examples of the variations seen across the country are expressed below:
  • Recently, kitchen incubators have served increasingly as food truck commissaries, and some, like Food Fort (Columbus, OH) are heavily focused on accommodating food trucks.
  • A number of incubators are focused on helping low-income, minority, and immigrant communities, such as La Cocina (San Francisco), which focuses on minority entrepreneurs.
  • Some of the larger incubators are affiliated with universities, such as ACEnet (Athens, OH) or Rutgers Food Innovation Center (Bridgeton, NJ), and these tend to focus on product innovation.
  • Most of the incubators that provide significant small-business capacity building resources are not-for-profit; however, a few for-profit incubators place a very strong focus on small business development at a level that meets or exceeds the top not-for-profit incubators. A good example is Union Kitchen (Washington, DC).
  • A handful of incubators are focusing on beer brewing. As the craft beer movement grows, there will surely be more such facilities. One example is Bake, Boil, and Brew (San Antonio, TX).
  • Some incubators, such as Organic Food Incubator (Long Island City, NY), have gotten into packaging and copacking for their member entrepreneurs.
  • Some make the connection between culinary workforce development and entrepreneurship. Increasingly, programs that provide culinary workforce training are seeing a portion of their clients interested in starting their own food business. One example of a workforce/incubator hybrid is Hot Bread Kitchen (Harlem, NY).
  • Several incubators are connected with farmers markets or public markets. This relationship seems to produce a very positive synergy. Examples include Watertown Farm Market Kitchen (Watertown, WI), and YorKitchen (York, PA).
  • Some incubators include a substantial classroom training kitchen, such as the Center for Culinary Enterprises (Philadelphia, PA), whose classroom kitchen functions as a TV studio.