48th Street below Spruce is becoming a sort of culinary hub with a number of small and start-up artisan food businesses calling the block and its Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises home.
The Enterprise Center, which supports local minority entrepreneurs, was already providing a helping hand for start-up businesses, but with the unique nature of the food industry and the lack of a kitchen facility at the initial site, there was a need to create a subsidiary. The Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises opened in 2012.
The businesses operating out of the Center or using its state-of-the-art shared-use commercial kitchen include:
“What we found was that there’s a particularly high threshold for food entry for food businesses in Philadelphia. It’s an expensive and complicated endeavor. An incubator kitchen lowers that threshold making it easier for food businesses to get their start in the city,” says Brett Heeger, Food System Director at The Enterprise Center.
Heeger broke the process down to three steps: business development, product refining and access to capital. The Enterprise Center has been known for bringing in influential guest speakers and advisors over the years, which have inspired culinary entrepreneurs and many first time business owners. The products are refined with the help of a panel of scientists from the Drexel Culinary food sciences along with extensively trained chefs, using commercial grade equipment that they would not have had access to otherwise. Finally, the businesses are given access to grants and seed funding which is exclusive to small businesses that are a part of the program.
The Culinary Center is located at 310 S. 48th Street in the Garden Court neighborhood. The Center has improved the neighborhood through several ways: There were physical improvements to the area, the site where the center is currently located was originally an abandoned supermarket. There has also been financial empowerment within the neighborhood, as the center also tried to hire candidates from West Philadelphia. The idea is to increase community engagement and involvement.
On Tuesday, May 19, the Culinary Center will host the 2nd annual “Cooking Up Success!” culinary competition among local food entrepreneurs. The winners will be awarded up to $50,000. Early bird tickets ($75) are available until April 17. To buy tickets, go here.
– Rana Fayez