Making it in the food business is about as tough as making a souffle. For those determined to break into the culinary scene, there's the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen, a 3,400-square-foot mecca of commercial equipment, workshops and mentorship to help those with a kernel of an idea and the heart of a foodie. Since opening in June, it has attracted 30 members who pay a monthly fee for access to the commercial ovens, sinks and more. Here are three tastemakers using the incubator as their culinary home away from home.
The Cleveland Bagel Co.
After 20 years in the warehouse industry, Dan Herbst decided to strike up a business with his friend Geoff Hardman making bagels and selling them at local farmers markets. Following the kitchen's eight-week Food Business Incubator course, the duo started delivering Cleveland Bagel Co. bagels and schmears to coffee shops such as Rising Star Coffee Roasters. They also moved production out of their home and into the incubator. "They have a 60-quart mixer and a kettle," says Herbst. "It's a lot easier to get 1,000 bagels done out of that kitchen." Herbst and Hardman are now making 60 dozen bagels a week in flavors such as salt, poppy seed and everything. clebagelco.com
Inspired by their mothers and grandmothers, future brothers-in-law Drew Anderson and Luke Visnic came up with four flavors of sauerkraut: a classic kraut; the Gnar Gnar, a gnarly mix of spices; a Sweet Red, made with red cabbage; and Curry Kraut, a favorite with vegetarians. Using the kitchen's facilities to make their kraut, they completely sold-out on their first farmers market visit. Now, they're processing 150 pounds of cabbage a week in preparation for the summer season. "[You] can go test it out, it's not going to break your wallet, and you can start producing out of there at your own hours," says Anderson. "It's super flexible." facebook.com/clekraut
Wok n Roll Food Truck
Tricia McCune and Matt Bolam decided to purchase the former Umami Moto food truck after going through the Food Business Incubator course. Their Wok n Roll Food Truck debuts later this month featuring Asian and Vietnamese cuisine ordered Chipotle-style during lunch. They'll also experiment with dishes such as ramen candy and Asian-inspired hot dogs during dinner hours. Without the incubator to use as a home base, getting their brainchild started would have been very difficult. "The prices of getting yourself set up in a commercial kitchen were just not plausible," says McCune. "I don't think it would have been possible without something like this." clewoknroll.com