Food entrepreneurs get access to commercial kitchens – The Royal Gazette

Created: Jan 03, 2023 08:00 AM

BEDC’s Shalini Johnstone, center, with Plant-Based Fuel BDA operators Trevor Johnstone and his wife, Maricela (Photo provided)

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation has launched a program to help the island’s food entrepreneurs to operate their businesses in fully licensed commercial kitchens.

BEDC said the goal of the Underutilized Commercial Kitchens Program for Community Users is to provide interested entrepreneurs with an affordable and quality work environment to support the start-up or expansion of -their business and at the same time provide the owners of the commercial kitchens with income from the facility they can. otherwise they do not receive.

The initiative has two elements – a matching program that introduces entrepreneurs to commercial kitchen owners, as well as direct rentals from BEDC to aspiring entrepreneurs.

Jamillah Lodge, BEDC’s acting executive director, said the organization regularly receives requests from aspiring culinary entrepreneurs seeking information on the availability of commercial kitchens for their ventures.

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She said: “With all the requests we received, we realized there was an opportunity to support small businesses looking for space.

“We know there are underutilized kitchens around the island in churches and community clubs.

“We know that some licensed kitchens on the island are not being fully utilized.

“So the idea is to match them with potential entrepreneurs interested in preparing and selling food.”

Once matched, both parties are free to make an agreement.

Three of the kitchens in the matching program are at St. James Church in Sandys, One Stop Variety in Pembroke, and Midland Heights Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hamilton Parish.

BEDC takes an even more active role in the second element of the program; rents space in community kitchens, including at Bethel AME Church near Shelly Bay, and then rents the space to community users.

William Spriggs, the director of economic and co-operative development at BEDC, is the underutilized kitchens project leader, supported by program manager Shalini Johnstone.

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Mr Spriggs said: “Some people don’t need the full trappings of a kitchen 24/7. They may only need a few hours a week.”

He said the program gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to get out of a home-based kitchen, or to transition from a part-time business to a full-time business.

Trevor Johnstone and his wife, Maricela, run Plant-Based Fuel BDA, the food service business providing high quality and creative plant-based/vegan food.

In addition to catering services, meal planning and personal chef services, the business offers a weekly food menu for pick-up, all of which is prepared in the kitchen at Bethel AME.

Mr. Johnstone, the chef and owner, said he started working out of the Bethel AME kitchen on July 1, and spends full days there from Monday to Thursday.

He said the program is “good, good, good – I like it”.

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Mr Johnstone added: “I’m able to do more as far as production, and volume of production. I can do bigger catering jobs because now I have the space to prepare and hold the food.”

The BEDC said all kitchens in the program are fully licensed and up to health code standards.

Therefore, in addition to eliminating the need for small businesses to take on the debt of purchasing expensive equipment or to sign a long-term lease, one of the licensing requirements is also taken.

To date, most of the kitchens in the program belong to sports clubs and churches, but BEDC is open to overtures from underutilized restaurant kitchens.

Ms Lodge says: “Our aim is to identify more kitchens and let people know they are available.”

Potential kitchen owners or tenants are asked to contact BEDC to register their interest in the program.

BEDC’s Jamillah Lodge (Photo provided)

William Spriggs of BEDC (Photo provided)


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