Thinking About Starting A Food Business?

— Written By

So, you want to start a food business? Do you love to cook and are ready to dive headfirst into that catering or food truck business you’ve always dreamed about? Maybe you’re a farmer or market gardener looking to expand sales by offering creative value-added products using produce you already grow? Perhaps you’re a home baker wanting to sell at local markets, but need a large certified kitchen to scale up production? Or you’re ready to teach that cooking class so you can help others expand their culinary repertoire?

A great solution for implementing your creative food business idea is being able to access commercial kitchen space. Also known as a shared-use kitchen, kitchen incubator or commissary kitchen, these licensed spaces allow you to prepare, cook and process food while adhering to regulatory standards, without the hefty cost of building or converting your own kitchen.

The benefits of using a shared culinary workspace are relatively inexpensive start-up costs, the ability to use the kitchen as much or as little as you need and daytime/evening flexibility. Using a shared-use kitchen allows new or existing food businesses to be a part of community entrepreneurial development, enhance the sustainability of local food systems, keep money in the community and boost their own business bottom line.

There are a wide range of community and shared-use kitchens in North Carolina, each evolving into their own niche areas, depending on location and degree of regulatory inspection (N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Health Department, & FDA). In Ashe County, we have the perfect resource to fulfill all your culinary business dreams! The High Country Commercial Kitchen (HCCK), located at Family Central in Jefferson, NC, houses 3,000 square feet of shared-use kitchen space, cooler, freezer, and dry goods storage areas to handle all of your licensed, health department inspected needs. With plenty of workspace, specialized equipment, and 24-hour secure access, those dreams can become a reality, with a little bit of planning.

Depending on what type of food business you own, regulatory requirements can vary. Here are a couple of great places to start:

Small Businesses | NC State Extension

Food & Drug Protection – Food Program – Starting a Food Business

If you are a new caterer or food truck business, permitting, compliance and inspection may require a least a month lead time, so it’s important to plan ahead. Additionally, a ServSafe Food Manager’s certification and general liability insurance policy are required.

If you are interested in renting HCCK, touring the facility, or have questions about the kitchen, please call (336) 846-5850 or email jccocker@ncsu.edu.

The current fee schedule and application are available for download here:

High Country Commercial Kitchen