West End Community Market and LEAP launch“The Kitchen”

Environmentally friendly food business incubator opens doors

Ceremony (from left): Susan Clark, Sam Lev, Maureen Best, Dave Prosser and City Councilwoman Anita Price join in cutting the ribbon at the Grand Opening of “The Kitchen in Roanoke’s West End. (Photos by S. Hale)
Ceremony (from left): Susan Clark, Sam Lev, Maureen Best, Dave Prosser and City Councilwoman Anita Price join in cutting the ribbon at the Grand Opening of “The Kitchen in Roanoke’s West End. (Photos by S. Hale)

by Brother Love

A sizable crowd gathered Tuesday, April 26 in southwest Roanoke for the grand opening and ribbon cuting of “The Kitchen” a project designed to give small business entrepreneurs in the food industry the opportunity to produce their products in a full service commercial kitchen.

Sam Lev, Coordinator for both the West End Community Market WECM and Grandin Village’s market for Local Environmental Agriculture Project (LEAP), was one of several representatives at the community event.  He referred to the new facility as a “shared use commercial kitchen and food incubator,” a project of LEAP that was 5 years in the making.

Ceremony attendees listen as project organizers speak about all the newly established venture brings to the community.
Ceremony attendees listen as project organizers speak about all the newly established venture brings to the community.

The space is to provide the community with an opportunity to build small businesses in a way that is both economical and financially sustainable.  “It’s really hard to open a food business, sometimes you have to buy equipment and find an expensive place to rent.”  A lot of food entrepreneurs are renting kitchen space and working at 2am when they would not normally be working. LEAP offers an easier approach to such ventures.

The Kitchen fully equipped with state-of-the-art appliances ready for business.
The Kitchen fully equipped with state-of-the-art appliances ready for business.

Renting “The Kitchen” starts at $20/hour and the rate goes down with the more hours used, dropping as low as $16/hour.

LEAP believes their clients will be small scale caterers, bakers and even farmers that will process their products for retail.

The West End Community Market opens every Tuesday from 3-6 pm at 1210 Patterson Ave. SW, the location of both Freedom First Credit Union and “The Kitchen”  that unlike the bank, will be open 24/7.

“I hope people come out to checkout “The Kitchen,” Lev said. “It’s a way to start the business of your dreams.”  Maureen Best, LEAP executive director, expressed her excitement at the grand opening of the facility that “gives the community something they really have been asking for.

“This is a huge benefit to West End, Roanoke and the region, as there isn’t another similar resource like this, so it helps to encourage food entrepreneurs and farmers,” she added.

“As The Kitchen” is certified for commercial production all participants will have to have a business license to lease the facility.  It is a full service commercial kitchen with the latest industrial kitchen equipment.

The grand opening was attended by a host of supporters, several city officials and the local media. Food for the event was provided by Fat Cat Baked Goodies.  Freedom First Credit Union also had their famous ice cream truck on hand providing free ice cream.

In addition to cooking classes, “The Kitchen” is open for private events, personal use and will provide education and support for startups.  For more info on how to procure use of “The Kitchen” contact Sam Lev at 540-632-1360 or on their website www.leapforlocalfood.org/kitchen.   Bon appetite!