Kitchen Opens To Help Budding Business Owners Grow

By Gail Ciampa The Providence Journal, R.I.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Besides providing a commercial kitchen for the cooks to work in, a new food incubator in R.I. will help small businesses get licensed and develop financial plans.


Local food got a boost this month with the opening of the Kitchen @ 40 S. Main St. to incubate food entrepreneurs.

It's the newest project of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley and includes a large, well-appointed commercial kitchen, which gives the chefs a place to cook, bake and store their food.

A weekly Saturday market from noon to 4 p.m. on site will feature the pies, cakes, cookies and more from the new food artisans. The market will also have a rotating selection of vendors with crafts and produce, as well as entertainment.

The incubator's inaugural class includes Andrea Russell and her Rustic Roots Baking, Roscoe Gay's Every 1s Chef, Sandra and Thomas Morgan's Providence Pie Company, jam maker Jeow by Eve Keobounthanh, and Sue's Cajunaise, a sandwich spread by Suzanne Ducharme.

Though smaller in space, the Kitchen and its mission are similar to Hope & Main in Warren, the state's first culinary incubator, which has several floors of commercial kitchens.

It's all good news for those who share a love of food and a passion for making it local. The renovated building at 40 South Main St. includes an outdoor patio and an indoor event space.

There is also a gallery with works by local artists such as Emily Lisker of Woonsocket and Jerry Aissis of Cumberland on display and for sale. It all adds to the creative atmosphere of the setting.

While the commercial kitchen is the centerpiece of the project, the bigger goal is to promote economic growth in Woonsocket and Northern Rhode Island, said Tamara Burman, the program manager.

The area struggles with vacant storefronts. The initiative to promote start-ups focused on food entrepreneurs as research shows growth in the food industry, she said. Seemingly, there will be plenty of food businesses to nurture and launch to fill those storefronts.

Though she just came on board at NeighborWorks in January, the Kitchen has been in the works for two years. The space was a former hardware store and was totally renovated.

Besides providing a commercial kitchen for the cooks to work, the program includes helping the small businesses get licensed and develop financial plans.

"The people I have met are passionate and driven with culinary skill," said Burman. "But they also have to understand food as a business before they go in the kitchen.

"We want people to be successful," she said.

Some funding for the initiative came from the Kresge Foundation through the Local Initiative Support Corporation R.I.

Interested "food-prenuers" can learn more at or call (401) 762-0993.

Here are the stories of three of the bakers. Tiny pies, big hopes for Cranston couple launching Providence Pie Co. In the past few weeks something named PVDpie has been popping up on the feeds of local Instagram followers of all things food with pretty pictures of their bite-size pies. Who knew the team behind the pies is a couple of Cranston accountants. "It's not as fun a job as you'd think," said Sandra Morgan of her chosen profession. She is launching Providence Pie Co. with her husband, Thomas Morgan. They are the newest bakers to sign on with Kitchen @ 40 S. Main St. and still in the earliest stages of forming their business. The pie making started when Sandra was pregnant with their now 8 week old daughter, Charlotte. Tom, who is the cook in the family, started making Sandra the sweets she craved. He started with full-size pies, but they were just too much. So he downsized and made minis that are three inches big and three or four bites. Unlike most of those seeking the help of an incubator program, the Morgans have business savvy by virtue of their profession. Thomas has been working the numbers and seeing if their pie-making can be a viable business. They hope to fill the void left when Humble Pie left Rhode Island, taking their hand pies out of the market. Thomas is not ready to quit his day job, but the pies are out and in demand. They'll be selling them for $2.99 each, $14.99 for six and $26.99 for a dozen. They use seasonal ingredients. Think flavors of apple, strawberries and rhubarb and the wonderfully gooey s'mores. As for the Morgans, they are already talking about "when they have retail space" they might introduce savory pies. Find them at Saturday's market in Woonsocket. Follow them on Instagram @pvdpie. Pie is the star at R.I.'s Rustic Roots Baking Andrea Russell will keep working at her restaurant management job while she grows her Rustic Roots Baking business. Her impressive repertoire includes cookies, quick breads, scones, casual cakes, farm wedding cakes and her star, pies. "I'll be selling in the market [Saturdays at the Kitchen @ 40 S. Main St.] and taking orders and see what the pull is," she said. Russell, who lives in Pawtucket, will also be at the Weaver Library farmers market in East Providence starting at the end of the month and at Slater Park's market starting in July. The graduate of Johnson and Wales University in the baking and pastry arts program is influenced by the calendar. So right now her pie flavors are dominated by rhubarb. Think Rhubarb Crumb, Honey Almond Custard with Rhubarb, and Strawberry Rhubarb. When the season starts soon, she'll make more varieties of strawberry pies. Then it will be raspberries. Russell makes individual pies and takes orders for larger ones. Learn more at Rustic Roots Baking on Facebook. Betting his future on cakes & catering Roscoe Gay named his cake business Every 1s Chef because that is what he wants to be: a chef for every one. He was filling that role while working for CVS and making music. He found himself cooking for his friends, making Sunday dinners and even elaborate cakes for their special occasions. He started building up fans with word of mouth, a Facebook page and an Instagram page. He decided he wanted to be his own boss and so he took the leap and left his job in March and hopes plenty of cake orders and catering jobs come his way. He's self-taught and found it easy to cook meals. His early tries at baking convinced him it's a science and requires measuring. For the Saturday market at the Kitchen @ 40 S. Main St., he'll rotate making small cakes, tarts, cupcakes, cake pops and French macarons. His prices are $5 for six cookies and $10 for a dozen; six cupcakes will cost $10 Gay expects to grow his custom cake business with his use of elaborate fondant frosting, Italian meringue buttercream and gumpaste flowers. Pinterest is a big source of inspiration, he says. His cake flavors include chocolate, red velvet, lemon, vanilla, Amaretto, Champagne and Grand Marnier. "I did a banana cake for a 2-year-old's birthday party," he said. Find Roscoe Gay on Facebook at Every1schef. -- [email protected] (401) 277-7266 On Twitter @gailciampa ___ (c)2017 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) Visit The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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