Commonwealth Kitchen helps those in food industry lay ground work for new wave of businesses – WCVB Boston

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CommonWealth Kitchen on Quincy Street in Dorchester is filled with sound from 50 companies using the shared kitchen to make it in the cut-throat food industry.
The food incubator’s members include Nathalie Lecorps, who opened Boston’s first Haitian food truck Gourmet Kreyol in April 2021.
“It was by the grace of God that I got into this kitchen,” Lecorps said.
Salimata Bangoura, whose company Yamacu sells West African food and ginger drinks online and at farmers markets across the state, also uses the space after she closed her Medfield restaurant in March 2020.
“It has really truly given me everything that I needed in order to bring my business back alive,” she said.
CommonWealth Kitchen has been around since 2009, providing space and manufacturing capabilities for the entrepreneurs — 75% are owned by women and people of color.
They also walk them through permitting, marketing and pricing, which often derails those new to the industry.
“The business owners we work with are people who don’t have those networks. They don’t have those relationships,” said Jen Faigel, executive director of CommonWealth Kitchen.
Faigel said the nonprofit’s mission has never been more important than right now as the food industry tries to claw its way back from the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause.
“We are very concerned that business, that restaurants, particularly those in low income communities, and those owned by people of color, across the commonwealth not just in the city of Boston, there’s a real potential for us to see a significant number closing in the next six months,” Faigel said.
CommonWealth Kitchen has started a restaurant resiliency initiative and provides free online workshops that are open to the public.
“As its most base, we are about breaking down barriers and making connections,” Faigel said.
While some of CommonWealth’s alumni are included in the growing lists of businesses that have become COVID causalities, business owners are optimistic about their futures.
“We went from making 500 bottles of juice to 5,000 bottles of juice,” Bangoura said.
“I didn’t go to business school, but the plans and the goals that I have for Gourmet Kreyol will definitely come into fruition because of CommonWealth Kitchen and the connections that I’ve made,” Lecorps said.
Later this month CommonWealth Kitchen will purchase the 36,000 square foot facility it uses, which includes storage for its members and guarantees that it’s presence will remain in Dorchester and allow them to invest further in renovations and expansion.
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