Starting a small food business can feel like a huge hurdle - so many unknowns, and so much to learn before settling into a rhythm of success — if you’re lucky. These days many of these self-starters don’t start off at your typical brick and mortar, instead you’ll see them pop up at events like Smorgasburg, or you’ll find them hosting private dinner parties. It’s a way of accessing the public’s palate without going all in on the risky and pricey process of opening up a storefront.
“I knew in my heart to be successful you need access, you need community and you need business support. I built the facility that I felt I really needed in order to be successful,” says Cindi Thompson, the creator and owner behind Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District. Cindi’s own roadblocks as she transitioned from a long career in financial services to pursue the culinary world helped her lay the groundwork for what is now Crafted Kitchen. All the access and support she lacked during the transition as a small business owner, allowed her to spot a hole in the marketplace.
Crafted Kitchen gives small food businesses the space to flex their creative muscle and knead out the kinks of production with access to a full service commercial kitchen inside a repurposed 96-year-old warehouse. Here you can choose from a variety of workspaces from a crisp, camera-ready test kitchen to a shared kitchen where up to eight concurrent operators can work simultaneously or you can pick a private kitchen perfect for wholesale businesses.
“We have you come in for an orientation, we show you our equipment, we teach you how to use anything you don’t know how to use. We assign storage to you, there’s a controlled access code at the door with your own code, so you can come and go as you please,” says Cindi. Here you get all the tangible tools you’ll need, but as anyone who goes into business for themselves knows, it all comes down to support. It helps to have someone telling you to keep going, someone helping you see past the barriers that’ll inevitably pop up. Crafted Kitchen is so much more than a kitchen — it’s a community. And you truly feel it and see it as you walk through the facility. People are dipping into each other’s workspaces, chatting, exchanging ideas.
And trust us, this is the kind of community you want to be around — the best of the best in the biz. Just check out the list of some of the people using this space – Have you ever tried Mama Musubi’s rice balls or how about the buttery decadence known as Hot Fat Donuts or Nice Coffee or Ag Standard snacks or, or, or — you get the point!
“I not only feel incredibly fortunate to be here, but I’m humbled by the people who’ve chosen to entrust me as the home for their businesses,” says Cindi who reaps her greatest reward with front row seats to the creative growth of her clients, her friends, her family.
Written by Linda Hosmer
Photographed by Gari Askew II