A kitchen incubator is a licensed, inspected commercial kitchen facility that allows food processors who cannot use their home kitchen to prepare food product. A food processor may use a kitchen incubator because their state does not have a cottage food law or their home kitchen is too small for the type of food production operation they are interested in a larger food production operation than them home kitchen can handle.A kitchen incubator also offers food processors the opportunity to test market their products before investing in a brick and mortar location. The requirements to use a kitchen incubator tenants will vary from state to state and by location. A food processor may need to be approved by a selection committee composed of members of the incubator center or participate in an application process. Potential participants should not be concerned, the kitchen incubator owners want to know that you are serious about food productions; remember kitchen incubators are often for profit entities and they want to make money just like you do.
As a potential tenant you may be asked to submit business, financial and marketing plans. Tenants may have a limited time to utilize the facility (24-30 months), which provides tenants enough time to move their business from the incubator stage (start-up) to a full fledged brick and mortar business.
Here are a few things to consider before securing a kitchen incubator:
The facility you use should be a licensed, insured facility in accordance to the state/county regulatory agency overseeing incubator kitchens.
The kitchen should provide a safe, clean environment for food preparation.
The kitchen should have equipment that provides the opportunity for you to bake, cook, grill, refrigerate and freeze food products. (There are some facilities that allow you to process meat, poultry and fish, however they will need special regulatory permits from the FDA/USDA)
The incubator kitchen should have ample storage and lockers
Some incubator or shared kitchen facilities may ask that you complete an application and may require you provide references
Upon using an incubator you may be asked to supply the following:
The kitchen incubator may provide you with the following:
Remember to ask for information in writing about all aspects of kitchen rental use/services, and fees before paying for the use of any incubator or shared use kitchen facility.