Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Union Kitchen Adds to Culinary Production Scene in Ivy City
Photo from the Library of Congress
In a bit of truly awesome news for both aspiring small food businesses in the District, and also for Ivy City, the small culinary business incubator Union Kitchen (1110 Congress St, near 2nd & L) has announced plans to expand to Ivy City. Ivy City, an area that is primarily industrial (but with some residential), has gotten a bit of attention recently. It is home to New Columbia Distillers (1832 Fenwick St.), who produce the popular (and tasty) Green Hat Gin that you can find in many local restaurants, bars, and liquor stores (usually it runs about $35 a bottle, but Brother's Liquor at Montello & Florida sells it for $30). Douglas Development recently launched their redevelopment of the historic Hecht Company Warehouse property located at 1401 New York Avenue. The building is a fabulous modern style structure that is quite impressive when you first view it. This project should bring 300 new residences to the space, and provide retail space as well. A major anchor tenant is a Mom's Organic Market. Planet Fitness has also signed on to provide a gym.
Basically, Ivy City is a long overlooked neighborhood that has a bright future. I think, as do many others, that food production should play a big part in that. That's one of the reasons I am so thrilled to hear that Union Kitchen is joining the mix. They've been wildly successful in their NoMa/Near Northeast space, and they have enable a ton of awesome local food oriented businesses to get off the ground. Not they will also be a part of helping a long struggling neighborhood to grow. According to this Washington City Paper article, the new Union Kitchen location will also include a market, a cafe, and an event space. I eagerly await the first story of an Ivy City resident starting a business through Union Kitchen.
Union Kitchen to Open 2nd Facility, Helping More Small Businesses Launch and Grow
Washington, DC (11 February, 2014)
Union Kitchen: Food Incubator will open a second facility, growing the ranks of membership and the impact of the incubator on small businesses, jobs, and culture. Currently working with 55 food businesses in NoMa, Union Kitchen's second facility in Ivy City will more than triple the square footage and house an estimated 70 additional members.
The incubator provides space for production and opportunities for sales, including driving business to members through catering and providing distribution services. “Union Kitchen is a solution to meet the challenges we faced as small business owners at the Blind Dog Café,” said Jonas Singer, a co-founder of Union Kitchen. “At Union Kitchen, we create community and, through that community, the efficiencies to overcome the growth constraints common in the food industry. The response to Union Kitchen has been incredible.”
Union Kitchen removes barriers to entry by eliminating the need for small businesses to take on debt, purchase expensive equipment, sign a long-term lease, enter disadvantageous distribution contracts, or take many of the other risks that business owners have come to expect as the norm for starting a food business. The new facility will include a focus on providing businesses growth opportunities, addressing the gap that many operators face as they grow from micro enterprises to regional businesses.
Currently, Union Kitchen offers a full slate of business services including catering and distribution, and covers operational costs for its members, including utilities, taxes, cleaning, trash collection, and more. For independent operators, these services are costly and a distraction from focusing on what matters most – preparing their best product and finding more customers. Many operators struggle to expand as they run out of space, making scaling impossible and constricting their ability to grow their businesses, customers, and jobs.
“The last year has been very exciting for us,” said Cullen Gilchrist, Union Kitchen co-founder. “A thriving food scene in DC plays such a huge role in the city’s culture, and it’s something that is incredibly important to us. We think of this new opportunity not just as an investment in our company, but also as an investment in our city.”
The Union Kitchen team - comprised of 13 District locals - plans to open their state-of-the-art facility in late 2014. To learn more about membership, catering, distribution, and other Union Kitchen efforts, visit Union Kitchen online.