Where the Startups Start

For new and small-batch operations, three kitchen incubators get chefs cooking


Opening a food business is a tough task. Overhead is high, and profits are slow. You can’t run a food truck – or bottle horseradish – without a kitchen, and even culinary school graduates may struggle with the subtleties of a business. The solution: a communal kitchen space, often described as “incubators.” These institutions provide space, equipment, and practical education. Many of their success stories have started with everyday folks with no foodie experience, and chances are you’ve already tried some of their tasty products. Here are three shared spaces that help make dreams come true.

Hope & Main
How do you perfect your recipes? How do you distribute? How do you impress a health inspector? Hope & Main hosts a seven-hour “bootcamp,” which covers all the entrepreneurial basics. If you’re still committed, you can apply to rent one of Hope & Main’s four commercial kitchens and get cooking. This extraordinary organization has helped launch a range of successful businesses, from a pimento cheese-maker (Miss Georgia’s Kitchen) to nut-free cookies (Alternutive). With its recurring farmers markets and “Meet Your Maker” events, Hope & Main has become a pillar of Rhode Island’s dining and cultural scene. Warren

Sandywoods is best known as a communal farm in scenic Tiverton. There are lots of reasons you may have visited Sandywoods – for a wedding, to rent a cottage for vacation, or to attend a concert. But the farm has yet another function: to serve as a kitchen incubator. While the Sandywoods facility is smaller than its counterparts, food-makers will find quality equipment and a handy space, far from the hubbub of busier towns. There is more than enough gear to support five local companies, including vegan food truck Rhody Roots and fudge-makers Montville Candy. Tiverton

The Guild
Beer is a social beverage, and that sociability extends to production: brewers love to trade notes, apprentice with each other, and taste each other’s pints. The Guild is a brewmaster’s co-op in Pawtucket, and it’s a natural extension of this fraternal atmosphere. The shared machinery and storage space allows multiple outfits to mash and ferment their beers under the same roof, and members include Great North, Willie’s Superbrew, and 137-year-old Narragansett Brewery. In keeping with its communal nature, The Guild invites the public into its tasting room Thursday through Sunday every week. You can practically taste the good will. Pawtucket