Kitchen incubator set to open in Youngstown

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator, a soon-to-be space for food entrepreneurs to make their products, is set to open and the non-profit already has its sights set on more.

Organizers completely renovated the space on Youngstown’s lower North Side at the corner of Elm Street and Baldwin Avenue. Now the non-profit wants to give people more options to buy locally.

“We’ve lost so many grocery stores, there’s so many neighborhoods where there isn’t really healthy, affordable food access,” said Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator manager Ben Shapiro.

The Incubator will allow food to be grown here, then sold here too, and will help entrepreneurs start their business, everything from catering to canning.

It’s access to our own infrastructure. It’s an ability to break into our own food system and not have to buy from corporations,” Shapiro said.

The grand opening celebration is set for Oct. 10. All proceeds from that event will go toward Common Wealth’s next project: The Elm Street Café, which is located in the same building as the incubator.

“It’s a place where people working here in the incubator can sell their products so it gives them another outlet to make money for their business,” said Christina Perry, resource developer for the incubator.

The café will allow those using the Kitchen Incubator to take their business plan one step further.

“The space that’s going to be the Elm Street Café was formerly the Penguin Pub, so it was a college bar. So in the space we still have the art deco bar, some of the equipment is left over, but there’s still a lot of construction work that needs done,” Perry said.

That construction work includes a new floor, repairs, insulation, plus electrical and plumbing. Adding in the cost of more equipment, they need to raise about $50,000 to finish it. The goal is to be open by next spring, but for now, the Incubator is focused on getting food entrepreneurs up and running.

“We’re really looking forward to helping a lot of people who are interested in either starting or expanding a food business that they’re thinking about,” Shapiro said.

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