RENDERING COURTESY GREG SPIESS ARCHITECTURE
CHEF’S SPECIAL: A 2011 rendering of the Hope & Main culinary incubator in Warren, which is looking to help small food-industry businesses get off the ground.
Where do all the food trucks go when they’re not serving customers from the curb?
By law, even the most intrepid truck needs a home base, a place to park and, most crucially, prepare and store their ingredients before heading out to cook.
Finding an affordable and commercially licensed commissary, as the stationary prep-kitchens for food trucks are known, is one of the biggest challenges for aspiring food-truck chefs. Along with local restrictions to protect restaurants, it is one of the things that prevent even more trucks from hitting the streets.
And it’s one of the reasons the founders of the Hope & Main culinary incubator in Warren see strong demand for the new facility they broke ground on this summer in an old Main Street elementary school.
With a planned 6,000 square feet of health-code-compliant rental kitchen space, Hope & Main is designed to make it easier for local, small, food-industry businesses of all types to get off the ground.
“We took the risk so entrepreneurs don’t have to,” said Lisa Raiola, founder and executive director of Hope & Main. “You can’t legally cook commercially out of your own house, so unless you could find a church or restaurant kitchen that was underused, it’s difficult to start. In this environment where it’s difficult to find investment, this can lower that bar to entry.”
In addition to truck chefs, Raiola sees Hope & Main renting to bakers, caterers and anyone looking to break into small packaged or processed food products.
And while the commercial kitchens are the heart of Hope & Main, the nonprofit promises a range of community benefits that not all culinary incubators provide.
They include a market space, demonstration kitchen, classrooms and a 2,000-square-foot event hall.