FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Sharing a commercial kitchen is paying off for some local food businesses. “This is kind of our hub where all the baking happens and where we get all the work done,” said Hetty Arts, owner of Hetty Arts Pastry.
Hetty Arts has a sweet set up. For three years it’s been working out of the CookSpring Shared Kitchen located in the back of the Summit Building at 1025 West Rudisill Boulevard. “We started with a little pastry truck and we really just wanted to grow our business and not have to worry about all the overhead costs of getting a space and having to staff it,” said Arts.
“You can’t do that from home and you actually need a licensed kitchen,” said Troy Tiernon, General Manager of Cookspring. “So I provide that to the community. Having a licensed kitchen where you can come in, focus on your business and sell it to the people you want to sell it to. CookSpring is actually built to help food entrepreneurs start their businesses.”
Tiernon has been running this operation for four years. He’s helped Hetty Arts Pastry and others cook and bake their way into business. “You just pay a fee and you have access to everything,” said Arts. Tiernon said, “Our current rate is $20 an hour.”
CookSpring also provides the sizzle for other foodies like meal prep business Smile More. “We started cooking healthy to help ourselves,” said Smile More co-owner Terel Lynn. “In the last six months we decided hey why not make this into a bigger dream and two weeks ago we got into this commercial kitchen and now we’re cooking for other people.”
Lynn and his fiancee Joanna Hersey started using the facilities at CookSpring just a few weeks ago. Their business provides premeasured, portion control meals to those looking for a healthy time saving option. “I started meal prepping three years ago for just myself,” said Jersey, Smile More co-owner. “I would spend a few hours on Sunday and have all my meals for the week. We’ve been doing it every week since. It is so successful for us.”
CookSpring has 30 clients who use its facility and some have branched out on their own. “We’ve had a couple of grads from our kitchen,” said Tiernon. “Our first was Junk Ditch on Main Street. They cooked out of here for about a year and a half. Our second was Sol Kitchen that was also a taco truck and he graduated and opened his own business on Lima and Dupont Road it’s called Solbird. Then our third was Ragin’ Cajun food truck and he opened up on the 13th floor of the AEP building and it’s called NOLA 13. We’ve probably had around 90 businesses that have actually started here and grown.”
“It’s pretty priceless,” said Arts. “We’re really lucky because Fort Wayne is a smaller city and we have something like this available to us which is pretty unusual. Having everything be shared is extremely useful for small businesses.”
CookSpring Shared Kitchen offers 24 hour access. Information on renting the space can be found on the CookSpring website.