Residents of Hunt, Rains and Hopkins counties are now much closer to having access to their very own incubator kitchen.
The kitchen, a project by Lone Oak-based nonprofit Community Seeds, will be sort of a “lab kitchen” where – for a low hourly rate – entrepreneurs, people needing training in the restaurant industry, foodies, and amateur chefs can use professional grade equipment to prepare food items that meet USDA requirements and can be sold.
Contractors are currently working on some finishing touches for the kitchen that include the installation of a new vent hood and an Ansul fire suppression system as well as renovation of the building’s floors. The remaining work is expected to take within 30 days to complete, according to Community Seeds Executive Director Bert Cooper.
“We hope to be ready to have a ‘soft open’ in less than 30 days,” Cooper said. “After testing things out for a few weeks, we plan to make the big announcement about the incubator kitchen being open for business.”
At Community Seeds’ annual prime rib fundraiser back in December, Pud Kearns with Housewarmers of Greenville explained that the kitchen would be a place were people can hone both their culinary skills and their business savvy.
“When people rent time in the kitchen, they’ll have people like Shannon (Foltz, owner of Ain’t Just Pie) helping them, who isn’t just a phenomenal cook, but also a successful businesswoman who will help them with health code compliance and other things that are important to running a restaurant,” Kearns said.
Funding for the incubator kitchen was given a major boost through a $99,000 grant from the USDA, and the project has been guided, in part, by Rachel DesRochers, who has opened several similar kitchens in the Ohio and Northern Kentucky region, through the nonprofit Incubator Kitchen Collective.
The kitchen in Lone Oak will be one of the first incubator kitchens in Texas that is funded by the USDA.
Community Seeds will also use the kitchen to supplement its services to those in need in Hunt, Rains and Hopkins County, as the nonprofit provides vocational educational programs in addition to food, clothing, emergency rent and utility support, and transitional housing.
Once the incubator kitchen is up and running, Community Seeds plans to work with the Hunt County Food Cooperative to sell food items made in the kitchen at regional farmers markets and through wholesale and retail stores.
There will also be retail space and a coffee shop in the front of the same building as the kitchen, which is located at 100 Katy Street in Lone Oak.