GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Despite the pandemic being so rough on employment, the Incubator Kitchen Program at the Downtown Market had another great year teaching people how to start their own food related business.
Ryan Bolhuis is the culinary operations manager and said the Incubator Kitchen Program helped create 11 new food start-up businesses and mentored 170 local entrepreneurs in 2020. In total, the Incubator Kitchen Program has helped launch 85 new businesses since 2013.
“Our whole approach is to reduce down overhead, that’s one of our main goals because that is so crucial for any small business especially in their first year,” Bolhuis explained to Fox 17.
The program offers 5,000 square feet of commercial kitchen space and all the equipment that any food, catering or drink entrepreneur would need as they craft their idea into reality.
“Our biggest strength is coaching people through the licensing phase, which can certainly be the most daunting aspect, again, that entire process, all of our coaching is for free,” Bolhuis said.
One company that got started in 2020 thanks to the Incubator Kitchen Program is “Let’s Stay Home Cocktail Kits”, with owner Eric MacAulay saying it took him about four months from the time he started the program until the time his product was on the market.
“If it weren’t for the Incubator Kitchen Program, we would still probably be in the planning stages and working on launching our business instead of being here now,” MacAulay explained to Fox 17.
“Let’s Stay Home Cocktail Kits” offers alcohol free mixers derived by Eric thanks to his days a bartender, with their core-four flavors of blueberry lavender, peach rosemary, strawberry mint and ginger basil. Each bottle offers enough mixer to create ten cocktails or mocktails for those who prefer alcohol free.