Created Date: Jan 03, 2023 08:00 AM
Shalini Johnston of BEDC, Center, with Trevor Johnston and his wife, Maricela, BDA plant fuel operators (photo provided)
The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation has launched a program to help food entrepreneurs on the island operate their businesses in fully licensed commercial kitchens.
BEDC said the goal of the Untapped Community Users Commercial Kitchen Program is to provide interested entrepreneurs with a high-quality, affordable work environment to support their start-up or expansion of businesses, while at the same time providing commercial kitchen owners with income from their desired facilities. Otherwise do not receive.
The initiative has two components – a matching program that introduces entrepreneurs to owners of commercial kitchens, as well as direct rentals by BEDC to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jamila Lodge, Acting Executive Director of the Business Development Center, said that the organization regularly receives requests from aspiring culinary entrepreneurs for information about the availability of commercial kitchens for their projects.
She said: “With all the applications we received, we knew there was an opportunity to support small businesses looking for space.
“We know that there are underutilized kitchens across the island in churches and community clubs.
“We know that some of the licensed kitchens on the island are not being fully utilized.
“So the idea is to match them with potential entrepreneurs who are interested in preparing and selling food.”
Once matched, both parties are free to make a deal.
Three kitchens are in the matching program at St James Church in Sandys, One Stop Variety in Pembroke, and Midland Heights-Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hamilton Parish.
BEDC is taking a more active role in the second component of the programme; It rents space in community kitchens, including Bethel AME Church near Shelly Bay, and then leases the space to community users.
William Spriggs, BEDC’s Director of Economic and Cooperative Development, is the project lead for the Underutilized Kitchens, with support from Program Director Shalini Johnston.
Mr Spriggs said: “Some people don’t need the full trappings of a 24/7 kitchen. They may only need a few hours a week.”
He said the program gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to get out of the home kitchen, or transition from part-time to full-time employment.
Trevor Johnston and his wife, Maricela, run Plant-Based Fuel BDA, a foodservice company that provides high-quality, innovative vegan/vegan foods.
In addition to catering, meal planning, and personal chef services, the company offers a weekly menu of food for take-out, all prepared in the kitchen at Bethel AME.
Mr. Johnston, the chef and owner, said he started working in the Bethel AME kitchen on July 1, and spends full days there from Monday to Thursday.
He said that the program is “good, good, good – I love it”.
Mr Johnston added: “I am able to do more in terms of production and volume. I can do bigger catering jobs because I now have space to prepare and carry food.”
BEDC said all kitchens in the program are fully licensed and comply with health code standards.
Therefore, in addition to eliminating the need for small businesses to incur debt to purchase expensive equipment or to sign a long-term lease, one of the licensing requirements is also taken care of.
To date, most of the kitchens in the program belong to sports clubs and churches, but BEDC is also open to entries from underutilized restaurant kitchens.
“Our goal is to locate more kitchens and let people know if they are available,” says Ms. Lodge.
Potential kitchen owners or renters are asked to contact the Small Enterprise Development Center to register their interest in the program.
Lovely lodge in BEDC (photo attached)
William Spriggs of BEDC (photo attached)