By Allan Brettman The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash. WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Shelene Rice and Marilyn Roseburroug, founders of "Perfect Dish Kitchen" cook personal meals for a handful of clients on Sunday nights and make deliveries on Mondays. Now they've opened their own commercial kitchen where they can continue to grow their food delivery business and help others do the same.
The Columbian, Vancouver, Wash.
Perfect Dish Kitchen for years plied their meal preparation and catering trade at Rosycakes Bakery in Vancouver. It wasn't ideal, but it worked.
Rosycakes met a key criteria for Perfect Dish: The bakery had a certified commercial kitchen at its 701 Grand Blvd. location. And it did not operate on Sundays and Mondays, providing an opportunity for Shelene Rice and Marilyn Roseburrough to do their cooking, usually on Sundays.
But the entrepreneurial pair had their sights set on working in and operating a commercial kitchen of their own. But having just launched their business three years ago, they were not yet in a position to make the financial commitment for a commercial kitchen. They had to be content with their status like many other food entrepreneurs in Clark County -- scramble for scant available space in other certified commercial kitchens in the county.
But Perfect Dish entered new territory two weeks ago.
It opened its own commercial kitchen at 16209 S.E. McGillivray Blvd., in the Fisher's Mercantile shopping center, a couple parking lots south of New Seasons Market.
As they continue to grow their food preparation and delivery business, they also are interested in finding food entrepreneurs who would like to rent kitchen time and food storage space in their 1,800-square-foot facility.
"The great need in the county is commercial kitchen space," Roseburrough said. "And we would welcome food vendors to rent here."
Perfect Dish kitchen is licensed as a Level 3 commercial kitchen with the Clark County Public Health Department. That top level reflects the equipment and purpose of the kitchen, said Adam Lim, lead environmental health specialist for county's food safety program. He said the other two levels reflect less food preparation demands, such as for an espresso stand or sandwich shop.
Rice said the co-owners have invested $30,000 in the equipment and preparation of the leased space. She said the cost was kept lower because of savvy used-equipment purchases and the fact the space was previously used as a restaurant. That meant the potentially expensive walk-in refrigerator and giant stainless steel exhaust hood were already in place.
Roseburrough said a confidentiality agreement prevented the co-owners from revealing lease terms. She also declined to give Perfect Dish revenue figures, saying, "We're a start-up."
The co-owners bring different strengths to the mix. Rice is the top chef in their kitchen. Trained at the now-closed Western Culinary Institute in Portland, she has worked at Huber's restaurant in Portland as a dessert chef and line cook. Then she worked as a chef at the long-adored Caprial's Bistro, which closed in 2009. Then she moved on as retail manager for Grand Central Baking Co.
Roseburrough is a home-taught chef whose career path has followed her personal dietary needs and business acumen. After having to go gluten- and dairy-free in 2009 for health reasons, she started Kember's Gluten Free in 2013, a line of mixes -- waffle, brownie and pizza crust among them. She started selling at Vancouver Farmers Market, where she became a board member, and later added New Seasons as a client.
Rice and Roseburrough met at the Vancouver Farmers Market in 2013 where both were vendors. They started Perfect Dish three years later, cooking personal meals for a handful of clients on Sunday nights and making deliveries on Mondays, which remains their schedule.
Outfitting the kitchen As their client list grew to about two dozen people, they also developed a sense of what resources, equipment, and storage is needed in a commercial kitchen. Their website lists several stainless steel features: Vulcan six-burner and flat-top griddle range with double oven, walk-in cooler, commercial reach-in refrigerator, commercial freezer, deep fat fryer and Sierra full-size convection oven.
They've purposely left about a third of the 1,800 square feet more or less empty, waiting for clients to make it their own semi-permanent home.
Potential users are encouraged to bring in shelves to set up their own space. A stand-alone giant refrigerator is empty, intended for outside users.
"We want people to have a home to come to," Roseburrough said. "It's hard as a food vendor and food producer, manufacturer, (or) caterer to schlep your stuff in and out, in and out all day long. We just want you to take your product, make it well and focus on that instead of having to store your supplies somewhere else."
Fees are on a sliding scale depending on length of time and storage space, Rice said, but range between $15 to $20 an hour.
The duo is getting the word out about the commercial kitchen availability mostly through word-of-mouth and industry connections, including a visit soon from the Vancouver Farmers Market board. They're also seeking connections with culinary programs in Clark County.
"We'd love to be an incubator in the six days we're not using it," Roseburrough said, "for small food companies that want to get a start."