WVPA Sharing

Collaborative Kitchen opening in West Virginia to encourage food entrepreneurship

Lemongrass Kitchen’s shared-use concept removes costly barrier for start-ups

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Lemongrass Kitchen, the region’s first collaborative kitchen for food entrepreneurs and small businesses, opens December 15th in The Offices at Orchard Park in Crab Orchard.

Also referred to as kitchen incubators, kitchen rentals and shared kitchens, the goal of facilities like Lemongrass Kitchen is to help home kitchen businesses and start-ups affordably and compliantly enter the commercial foodservice market.

“When home kitchen businesses are ready to expand into the commercial market, they need a clean, safe and affordable space for operating within regulatory requirements,” said Chris Vaught, Lemongrass Kitchen founder and local entrepreneur. “Access to commercial kitchens can be expensive and a deal-breaker for small business growth, so we hope to remove that barrier.”

Spanning 1,500 square feet within the kitchen and surrounding area of the former Crab Orchard Elementary School, Lemongrass Kitchen is fully outfitted with preparation space and equipment such as stoves, ovens, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezer storage and bulk dry storage. Additional space is available for specialty equipment that clients may require.

In addition to physical assets, Lemongrass Kitchen services include business know-how. The WV Hive, the entrepreneurship support program of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, is working in partnership to provide business start-up and advising services to Lemongrass Kitchen clients. 

“Lemongrass Kitchen is a perfect example of sharing resources and knowledge to launch and grow successful companies here in the Mountain State,” said WV Hive Executive Director Judy Moore. “This is a resource we have desperately needed in our area to support food-industry entrepreneurs. I’m eager to see the success this facility brings and thrilled to experience the amazing food Lemongrass Kitchen clients produce!”

The Hive is experienced in the synergies made possible by providing collaborative work environments. Offering services for start-ups and small business owners who rent incubation space in its Beckley facility allow like-minded entrepreneurs the chance to network and innovate just from being in close proximity.

While food entrepreneurs have rented restaurant kitchens during off hours for many years, the idea of collaborative kitchens as local economic engines is relatively new. According to an industry report offered by The Food Corridor, more than 40% of shared-use kitchens nationwide have been established since 2015.

Food entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses that may benefit from Lemongrass Kitchen include:

  • Caterers
  • Food producers with online or retail points of sale
  • Ghost kitchens, defined as businesses that deliver food to consumers through food delivery apps, as opposed to brick-and-mortar restaurants
  • Food trucks
  • Meal preppers
  • Suppliers

Lemongrass Kitchen subscriptions start at 10 hours per week and include all equipment, space, utilities and business services. Facility use is also available on an hourly basis. Fees are reasonably priced to encourage business start-ups.

More information about Lemongrass Kitchen is available at www.lemongrasskitchenwv.com, email at [email protected] or phone at (304) 256-2190.

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