If you can't afford your own production facility, consider a specialized kitchen incubator. "We provide a state-of-the-art, health-inspected facility, and [tenants] just lease it when they need it," says David Gonzales, executive director of the Denver Enterprise Center, a 74,000-square-foot incubation facility with 7,900 square feet of kitchen space.
Leo Reiff is the first graduate of the Center's kitchen incubation program, which helps start-up companies develop food and food-related products. His business, Culinaire Inc., makes gourmet appetizers and delivers them to country clubs, hotels and other caterers.
One of the largest of its kind in the country, the Denver incubator has ovens for bakers, cooking lines for making specialty foods, and plenty of space for preparing and storing food. "It offers all the newest equipment the food service industry has to offer," says Reiff.
Looking for help with your food business? Here are some resources:
- Specialized kitchen incubators are available in many states. To locate one near you, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the National Business Incubation Association, 20 E. Circle Dr., #190, Athens, OH 45701.
- "Getting Started in the Specialty Food Business," a two-day seminar, is offered through University of California, Davis for $365. Call (916) 757-8899.
- Certain states have programs to support specialty food entrepreneurs. In Kansas, call the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing, (785) 296-3736; in Minnesota, call the Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, (800) 279-5010; and in Vermont, call the Vermont Department of Agriculture, (802) 828-2416.