Food Trucks, caterers, delivery-only restaurants, product developers and startups have a new home, the space to work and the support to expand.
KERNERSVILLE — Shared kitchens and business incubators aren't new ideas. But The Co-Laboratory Project saw an opportunity in merging the two concepts to launch Project Short Street, Kernersville's first small-business incubator for entrepreneurs in the Piedmont Triad’s growing food and product development scene.
"There is an obvious support gap in the Piedmont Triad for culinary entrepreneurs," says Lisa McMullen, Director of Business Development at The Co-Laboratory Project. “The Enterprise Kitchen in Winston-Salem has shouldered the weight of this support in Forsyth County. Their facility has been at capacity since opening its doors in 2018 and currently have an entire community of talented and passionate folks waiting to get in there. We now hope to help bridge the gap and shoulder the support alongside The Enterprise Center.”
Having founded the ShopNCFarms social media initiative to help connect producers of North Carolina agriculture directly to the consumers in the community, The Co-Laboratory Project sought to take collaboration and connection to a new level. Finding a 9000 square feet facility in the heart of downtown Kernersville was the perfect opportunity.
Centrally located, the Project Short Street campus is made up of:
Gastro Lab, a 5800 square feet of commercial kitchen, dry and cold storage;
Base Camp, 3200 square feet of shared use office, meeting, and classroom space;
Food Truck Depot, designated prep space, dry and cold storage, charging stations, gray water disposal and grease disposal.
The business model for Project Short Street is simple: Small food businesses apply for memberships on a monthly basis that give them access to affordable, all-inclusive, full-service, regulated kitchen space. In addition to the benefits of work space, the Short Street to Success incubator program helps startup members develop their concept, manage budgeting and food costs, apply techniques, navigate regulation, learn how to brand, design, market and distribute their services and products, which can be particularly helpful for first-time business owners.
The Project Short Street facility is unapologetically for-profit, which McMullen says is essential to their success and the success of their members. "Our core business interests are 100% aligned with our members' interests," McMullen says. “However, being able to offer subsidized fees through the Short Street to Success incubator application process also allows new and transitioning entrepreneurs access to the facility and resources at the most critical time - start up.”
What is unique about Project Short Street? Lisa feels it is the diverse background of the Project Short Street team. “We have the resources to provide numerous avenues for our members to generate revenue as our backgrounds are from the educational, food service, event, product development, and food vending industries. This is invaluable in guiding our members. Providing them with flexible opportunities and the ability to pivot their operations as needed is crucial to a small business owner.”
“If you are a food truck that wants to run your menu as a delivery-only restaurant two nights a week, we can facilitate that at Short Street. If you are a chef or caterer, you can showcase your talent and concepts at our monthly secret supper club dinners, sell ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat products at pop-up markets or try your hands at festival food vending at regional live events and festivals.”
The Base Camp business incubator is a B2B collaboration platform centered around the support and infrastructure specific to our culinary members. The Base Camp B2B members are small business owners focused on product development, marketing, branding, finance, accounting, and regulatory services. Base Camp provides B2B members with access to office and meeting space, technology, classroom space, along with unlimited networking with a full roster of culinary members as potential clients.
“It’s all hand in hand support between entrepreneurs at similar stages in their business development. We believe developing a strong culinary industry is key to community development. Our goal is to be a cornerstone in that development. We are so excited to bring our campus to Kernersville, Forsyth County, and the Piedmont Triad.”
The campus is currently under construction by Fourth Elm Construction and is due to be completed in March of 2022. But the Project Short Street team began working with members in January to have them ready for opening. If you have interest in becoming a member of Short Street, you can contact Angel Broughton at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment or visit www.projectshortstreet.com for more information.