"We're not an incubator," Kitchen in the Market co-owner (and frequent SGT contributor) Tracy Morgan insists, "we're not here to help new chefs run their business or to tell them how to do it." The 14 chefs who currently share space at Kitchen in the Market -- there's still room for more -- include caterers, bakers, artisans, and even a mobile food truck owner, most of whom have experience cooking professionally and running their own businesses. Although having a proven, stable business isn't a requirement, the one-year lease that Kitchen in the Market (located in the Midtown Global Market) has its tenants sign separates the pros from the hobbyists.
Co-owner Molly Herrmann agrees with Tracy's comment, adding that, "when you start a business, you don't know everything. It's nice to know experienced chefs who can point you in the right direction." Incubator or not, it's hard to imagine a better kitchen arrangement for an aspiring chef or an established one: 1550 square feet of beautiful, efficient space; reasonable rates ($300 - $950/month, depending on your needs); access to storage; professional-grade equipment to borrow; and experienced chefs and business people to lean on. Kitchen in the Market (KITM) is, first and foremost, a fresh take on commercial kitchen rental -- the natural outgrowth of the former 400 square foot space Molly and others occupied just down the hall in the Global Market.
But Kitchen in the Market is also much more than that. Visiting the space, I felt as if I'd walked into some sort of good food utopia. A small retail space is dedicated to commercial-grade cooking products, like cookie sheets and bowls. A case by the cash register sells grab-and-go food prepared by KITM chefs, so that visitors can grab lunch and sample a new caterer simultaneously. A wide open, ultra-configurable classroom space allows chefs to teach cooking classes or create custom events.
Tracy and Molly are good friends and recent business partners. As they build and grow their new venture together, they remain committed to the "day jobs" they've held for the past several years. Both Tracy's marketing consultancy, Segnavia Creative, and Molly's Tastebud Catering continue to grow and thrive. The partners tell me that their skills are complimentary, and perfectly suited to running the Kitchen in the Market: Tracy is a marketing and retail expert (who also holds a seat on the board of Mississippi Market), while Molly has deep expertise in food, nutrition, and food service. Both women have run their own successful businesses for years.
Despite the fact that their Grand Opening is still weeks away (February 24 - 27), Kitchen in the Market has caught the eye of many Twin Cities chefs -- Molly and Tracy are carefully reviewing the applications they've received and are hoping for more. "We're looking for a good mix of businesses," Molly tells me, "consistency, community, building a resource network ... we're selling their product, so we want to like what the chefs here make." Tracy adds, "we don't require that the chefs here use local or sustainable ingredients -- they have to run their own businesses -- but we make it clear that those things are important to us."
Add to the list of benefits for KITM chefs the fact that they can easily set up accounts with the rest of the merchants at the Midtown Global Market, including the Produce Exchange (fruit, veggies), Salty Tart (breads, desserts), Grassroots Gourmet (cheese, meats), and Holy Land Deli (Middle Eastern foods). Not only do the chefs here have access to their coworkers' expertise and networks, they can also get a fresh, organic tomato any time of the day, on a moments notice. "We're happy and proud to be part of this public market," Molly says.
While Kitchen in the Market's bread and butter is currently leasing kitchen space, it's impossible not to be swept up by the dreams of its founding partners. "Tell them about our classes!" Tracy and Molly remind me before I leave, reminding me that the potential for additional classes, retail lines, and events is limitless. With all that Kitchen in the Market has going for it, I hardly need to be reminded. Maybe now's the time to start up that homemade beef jerky business I've been dreaming about.
Kitchen in the Market currently houses Tastebud Catering, Dandelion Kitchen, 2 Food Wine and Design, Bistro Meringues, Lindalicious Biscotti, Roving Dish Gluten Free bakery, and more. It's located at 920 E. Lake Street #107, Minneapolis, MN 55407. The KITM retail space is open from 10 am - 6 pm Monday through Saturday. Reach them at: 612.568.KITM (5486), or at email@example.com.
Header photo credit: Amber Procaccini Photography