With shared-use kitchens steadily gaining popularity, Purdue Extension has designed four tours to give attendees an inside look at 12 successful kitchens throughout the Midwest. Anyone involved in a project to develop or support a shared-use kitchen, and the entrepreneurs and food businesses that use these kitchens are welcome to attend.

The tours demonstrate a business incubation model that has given thousands of food entrepreneurs the ability to launch their businesses without the need to build their own commercial kitchens.

The 12 kitchens featured on the tours are among approximately 360 shared kitchens currently operating in the United States. They rent space to food entrepreneurs who need access to a commercial kitchen for catering, cooking and baking food for sale, operating a food truck or preparing a shelf-stable product such as salsa or granola.

Each stop will include a tour of the kitchen, some background information from the kitchen owner or manager, and time for a Q&A session. Bring your questions, collaborators and ideas to discuss with those who are already managing a shared commercial kitchen space.

The first trip, which is on March 30, will begin at the Arthouse in Gary, Ind., a 2,200-square-foot urban kitchen that features an art gallery. It also includes stops at River Forest Kitchen in Illinois, a 600-square-foot suburban kitchen with a greenhouse and garden, and ETA’s Commercial Kitchen Rental in Highland Park, Ill., a 1,400-square-foot urban kitchen. The trip is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST. The cost for the one-day bus tour to three kitchens is $25. The fee includes lunch, water and transportation to and from the first kitchen stop.  

“Our research, supported by a SARE Research and Education Grant, aims to describe successful business models for shared-use kitchens and quantify the economic impact these kitchens have on their community,” said Jodee Ellett, local foods coordinator for Purdue Extension.

“Our tours are designed to engage current or hopeful kitchen owners and managers in learning from peers at other kitchens. Anyone who is interested in learning more about shared-use kitchens will gain valuable insight from touring other kitchens, hearing from other kitchen owners and talking with others on the tour also interested in shared-kitchens,” she added.

Purdue Extension Shared Kitchen Tours:

March 30 - Tours of ArtHouse in Gary, Ind.; River Forest (Ill.) Kitchen; and ETA’s Commercial Kitchen Rental in Highland Park, Ill. Tour is 9 a.m.-5 p.m. CST.

April 11 - Tours of CookSpring in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Washtenaw Food Hub, Ann Arbor, Mich.; and Flint Food Works, in Flint, Mich. Tour is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. Attendees are encouraged to bring extra cash for dinner.

April 12 - Tours of MadJax in Muncie, Ind.; Foodworks Alliance in Zanesville, Ohio; and The Food Fort in Columbus, Ohio. Tour is 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

TBD - Tours of Indy’s Kitchen in Indianapolis; Ohio River Valley Food Venture in Madison, Ind., and Chef Space in Louisville, Ky.

For more information and to register online, go to www.conf.purdue.edu/kitchentours