How to Start a Food Business at Cincinnati's Findlay Kitchen
An idea is all it takes. Imagine introducing your favorite recipe to others, creating a restaurant from scratch, or seeing your items on a grocery store shelf.
No matter which path you want to take in the food industry, Findlay Kitchen is a place to start.
Findlay Kitchen supports those looking to start, grow and scale a food business. The organization trains future business owners (specifically women, immigrants and minorities) to ensure Cincinnati’s food scene is representative of the population.
“We are literally trying to change the face of who business owners are in the food world,” says Marianne Hamilton, director of Findlay Kitchen.
Business experience is not required, as Findlay Kitchen is the place to figure out if your idea is something you want to move forward with. It’s like a test run.
Minority or low-income applicants can apply for Findlay Kitchen’s scholarship program, called Minority Food Business Incubator. If you’re selected, you’ll go through a business development program to gain basic knowledge and learn what it would be like to start a food business from scratch.
After completing the business program, you will spend 100 hours in the kitchen to test out your concept. If you want to start a bakery, Findlay Kitchen can help you figure out how to scale a recipe — like turning 24 cookies into 500.
During those 100 hours, you will also learn how to buy materials in bulk, how to use commercial grade ovens, where to sell food and how to package it. The next questions will be whether you are making enough money to grow the business, who you want to sell to and what the next step is.
If you choose to continue, Findlay Kitchen will pair you with a mentor who specializes in the food industry you want to enter. Gigi’s Rolls, a former scholarship program participant, paired with one of the owners of Busken Bakery, then toured the facility and purchased discounted equipment to make her rolls faster.
Findlay Kitchen helps people gain connections, mentors, resources and support.
There are a few more openings for the scholarship program this year. The application doesn’t require a background check or a statement of criminal history.
Before you apply, visit Findlay Kitchen during one of the First Tuesday of the Month tours. You can see the facility, discuss your idea with a manager, get feedback and decide if it’s good fit for you. All you have to do is send an email to email@example.com to reserve your spot.
If accepted into the scholarship program, you will be required to get general liability insurance and take a food safety and sanitation class.