This Culinary Launchpad Is One of Only a Handful in Existence

This Culinary Launchpad Is One of Only a Handful in Existence
Image credit: Courtesy of Little Green Pickle
Food for thought: KitchenCru in Portland, Ore.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the September 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Check out other industries that are benefiting from launchpads here.

It seemed to former IT professional Michael Madigan that everywhere he looked in his home base of Portland, Ore., was brimming with food trucks, pop-up restaurants, DIY bakers, cheesemongers and condiment-makers selling at farmers markets.

“I asked myself, ‘Where do these folks cook?’” Madigan recalls. He also wondered if they could use some help growing their ventures.

After researching food incubators around the country (and finding just two in existence), in 2011 Madigan opened KitchenCru, Portland’s 4,800-square-foot incubator for culinary companies. Participants pay roughly $23 to $28 an hour, plus food-storage costs, to rent space in the fully equipped, licensed commercial kitchen. Professional kitchen experience is not required; entrepreneurs need only register their business with the city and state, get a food-handler’s permit and obtain liability insurance.

“I’ve tried to develop something that breaks down the barriers to entry,” Madigan says. “I tell people, ‘Bring your knives, and you’re ready to cook.’”

Image Credit: Courtesy of Little Green Pickle

Besides helping with business plans, branding and e-commerce sites, Madigan and his three-person team help founders scale their recipes for commercial production and create sales and distribution strategies. “It’s all about getting the product manufactured and finding buyers for it,” he says.

More than 100 food artisans have rented the space, about 20 of whom have opened shops or otherwise seen regional success. Ben Jacobsen is one of them. He spent 18 months at KitchenCru getting Jacobsen Salt Co., which sells locally harvested sea salt, off the ground.

“The energy in that place was incomparable,” says Jacobsen, whose 4-year-old company now has 35 employees. “It was just so much fun and inspiring to be in.”

Madigan, who recently opened a bagel shop and a wine bar of his own, allows startups to stay at KitchenCru as long as they need to; founders usually know when they’ve outgrown the space, he says. “One of the happiest days for me is when a client comes to me, big-eyed, and says, ‘I just quit my job to do this full time.’”

More from Entrepreneur

Kathleen, Founder and CEO of Grayce & Co, a media and marketing consultancy, can help you develop a brand strategy, build marketing campaigns and learn how to balance work and life.
Book Your Session

For a limited time only, get this bundle of Entrepreneur PressĀ® titles for less than $30 (60% OFF) on our bookstore when you use "LEAP" at checkout.
Buy Now

Are paying too much for business insurance? Do you have critical gaps in your coverage? Trust Entrepreneur to help you find out.
Get Your Quote Now

Latest on Entrepreneur

My Queue

There are no Videos in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any video to save to your queue.

There are no Articles in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any article to save to your queue.

There are no Podcasts in your queue.

Click on the Add to next to any podcast episode to save to your queue.

You're not following any authors.

Click the Follow button on any author page to keep up with the latest content from your favorite authors.