Aspiring food makers, caterers and chefs can easily whip up a passion for their craft. However, finding the up-front funding to establish a brick and mortar, licensed commercial kitchen presents a whole different challenge. This alone often deters food entrepreneurs from pursuing their dream of launching their product to market.
Our Kitchen Share Incubator Program is an exclusive co-working space for food that aims to break down the barriers to entry into the highly regulated food industry. We provide low-cost access to fully equipped and licensed commercial kitchen space and professional grade equipment in Sharpsburg, PA. Our space fills a need for Pittsburgh’s burgeoning artisan and good-food community. It’s a space to help small businesses thrive, but also one where people can get their feet wet when deciding if making food full time is for them. Whether a food maker is just starting out or looking to expand & grow his or her food business, La Dorita provides a service that is economically superior to building or leasing one’s own commercial facility.
According to a recent U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) report, one statistic remains constant: “About half of all new establishments survive five years or more and about one-third survive 10 years or more.” The SBA cites three fundamental reasons for this rate of failure—a lack of planning; a lack of access to sophisticated resources; and an inability to execute in increasingly complex and competitive economic environments. La Dorita is helping food entrepreneurs to overcome these odds by offering them a fast track to inclusiveness in an industry which is nothing but exclusive, highly regulated, and expensive to break into. Kitchen Share members are afforded a great opportunity to start at their own pace and grow.
La Dorita is more than a professional space for food production; it is a philosophically focused space where local food producers can start their projects with the support of others going through the same struggles. We aim to be an inclusive space for food start-ups and entrepreneurs who are seeking resources and support. To that end, La Dorita provides industry-specific technical assistance, a collaborative environment of fellow food start-up entrepreneurs, one-on-one coaching, shared purchasing, and access to market opportunities in an effort to expand our members’ endeavors into viable micro-enterprises.
La Dorita also provides members access to a La Dorita Studio, a meeting space that includes a full service bar and seating for up to 60 persons that allows members to test their market, to test a menu at a pop-up restaurant, or hold a launch party. In addition, La Dorita connects its members to key professionals, such as business consultants and advisers, accountants, lawyers, capital sources, licensing agencies, vendors, etc. We also work with our members to source ingredients from local farms and producers, while helping to foster relationships with local stores to help with that all too confusing process of retail distribution.
It’s important to note that while La Dorita significantly aims to absorb the upfront financial risk of opening and operating a commercial kitchen, we maintain ourselves completely independent from our members. We do not offer funding in exchange for equity or gain any personal interest from our member’s success. Our goal is to help make members’ artisan food dreams and opportunities as efficient and profitable as possible. We work with them to help solve their start-up obstacles, while understanding that they have limited resources and budget.
La Dorita also recognizes the community’s need for new and innovative economic development opportunities. In the process, we are developing a local food project that uses food as a means to spur economic development and jobs, foster a more robust food economy and increase the consumption of healthy food in and around the underserved Sharpsburg community. The model for our project creates a complete food supply chain by linking previously disparate elements of the food system–licensing, production, distribution and processing–while addressing both healthy food and economic issues in Pittsburgh area communities. We also aspire to contribute to the economic development in the Borough of Sharpsburg, where more than one fourth of households rely on food stamps and the poverty level is 22.9%. Our expectation is that food start-ups that successfully move on from our Kitchen Share Incubator will establish brick-and-mortar storefronts in Sharpsburg or other Pittsburgh communities that until recently have been in the outskirts of redevelopment.
Building upon Pittsburgh’s growing local food movement, La Dorita strives to foster entrepreneurship, good food, and community while embracing bottom-line values. Affordable kitchen rates and practical business tools provide budding entrepreneurs a leg-up in starting food businesses. Our community enables us to create, build, and cultivate processes to develop an ecosystem of good food businesses that help bring flavor to our region.
La Dorita is starting a broader conversation about Pittsburgh’s underrepresented food start-up landscape and how we must all work together to help break down the entry barriers to our area’s Innovation Economy. Our ultimate goal is to nurture and accelerate the survival and growth of our Kitchen Share Incubator Program members and cultivate an empowered community that has access to high-quality resources, jobs and business opportunities.