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The Commissary Brings Kitchen Incubator to Franklinton

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Commissary Brings Kitchen Incubator to FranklintonRendering of the event space inside the Commissary on Town - Courtesy of Andy Dehus.
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There’s certainly no shortage of news coming out of Franklinton in 2012, as every month yields a big new story about yet another new project in the works. August is no different, but this time there’s a unique twist.

Instead of more art studios or artist residences, a medium-sized warehouse located at 610 West Town Street will soon be home to a new kitchen incubator facility known as The Commissary on Town Street. This facility will allow aspiring food-related businesses to work in a commercial kitchen space where they can test recipes, work with commercial-grade equipment and gather to collaborate on business projects. The Commissary will be one part business incubator and one part community center.

Commissary owner Kate Djupe says that the project already has two fully committed investors and several potential others, and has plans to begin construction once financial needs are met (and if you’re interested in investing, send her an email at [email protected] for more information).

We spoke with Kate recently to find out more about this new project and what it could mean for the entrepreneurial community.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your personal background as it relates to food preparation?

A: It’s hard to know where to begin. I’ve worked for, managed, apprenticed, was the Sous Chef, participated in and directed in kitchens at Handke’s, Trattoria Roma, Le Papillion and Gigi’s, Moe’s, Denison University, Knox Community Hospital, several culinary competitions, and have attended culinary school. I’ve spent more than half of my life inside some element of the food industry.

That being said, I haven’t worked in a kitchen in a few years and I miss it. I miss the smell of pans deglazing mid-service. I don’t know how to cook for a family of four, so I cook for anyone that comes over. A couple years ago, a craving for fried chicken expressed on Twitter led to inviting a bunch of strangers to my house for a fried chicken dinner and the formation of “CMH Dinner Club”. My husband and I put in about as large a garden as our lot (and my husband) allows. Between that output, going to u-picks and farmer’s markets, and talking to farmers, we do a lot of canning and putting up. This has led to several wonderful, fruitful (sorry for the pun) relationships.

Q: So where did the idea come about for The Commissary?

A: When I was in culinary school, I had dreams of opening a butcher shop that would make stocks, sausages, and basic mise en place out of local ingredients. I wanted chefs and farmers and produce companies to be able to experiment. I plotted out all of the parts of the business that I still needed to learn before jumping in, and then life intervened. I’ve worked my way through that list since.

When my first son was born, I made all of his baby food with ingredients from my favorite farms. I looked into selling the food at a farmers’ market, but regulations require all frozen foods be prepared and stored in a commercial kitchen. At the time, I couldn’t find any restaurants that were willing to let me rent space in the off hours. The light bulb flickered back on and ever since I have been making plans and meeting people who need this space to happen just as much as I want it to.

Q: So what drew you to this location in Franklinton?

A: I looked all over the city for the right location and when I walked into 610 West Town Street, I knew I had the right spot. I love how close it is to Downtown, how it has extensive parking, and most importantly the beautiful light inside the building and the remaining parts of the old trolley station. I look around at the raw space and see room to grow and expand and play. And as I meet more of the neighbors, I see all of the relationships and collaborations that can happen here.

My intention for The Commissary is to create a business that supports the community as much as possible, and by community, I mean the food industry, Ohio farmers, the local gardens, and this neighborhood. This is a very special place.

Continue reading about The Commissary in Part 2 of our interview on TheMetropreneur.com.

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