Rentable kitchen space provides an area to create and collaborate.

Rentable kitchen space provides an area to create and collaborate.

Kate Djupe doesn't have an infallible recipe for opening a food-related business, but she tries to offer the right ingredients in her collaborative kitchen space. She created The Commissary in 2014 as a resource for central Ohioans interested in starting food businesses.

The Columbus facility offers commercial kitchen space where food professionals can prep and cook fare to serve on food trucks and at catered events or sell at farmers markets or specialty grocers. The space, which can be rented by the hour, offers the kitchen equipment necessary to prep and cook.

"My main goal is to make sure we have more and better local food," says Djupe, who spent years working in the food industry. "I want businesses to be able to follow their ideas while spending the least amount of money. I want it to be as risk-free as possible."

In addition to kitchens, The Commissary provides business classes geared to entrepreneurs, parking for food trucks and other services that fledging food businesses may require. Much of what Djupe does centers on simplifying the path to launching a food business and demystifying the rules and regulations that govern them. "No one business has a single question," she says. "We do a lot around starting your business."

She has created a for-profit business that offers essential services to food professionals. The space acts as an incubator for food-related businesses, she says. "I love for them to grow up and out."

Clients say the space is great for food preparation and that there's a real esprit de corps among those who use the space.

The ability to use kitchen space at The Commissary "really breaks down the barriers for entry into a food business," says Duncan Forbes, who owns North Country Charcuterie with his brother, James, and mother, Jane. The facility maintains the proper licensure with the Ohio Department of Agriculture that allows them to create meat products, which is essential for the business, he says. "It would have been a lot more difficult for us to start a business without The Commissary. It would have taken us a lot longer to get to market."

The opportunity to use The Commissary to prep for events has helped partners Brooke Kinsey and Regina Carmody Prange grow their catering business, Blue & Fig. "I'm so grateful for this space," Kinsey says. "Our business could not have had such success without it."

Djupe initially got the idea for the business when her children were small and she was making homemade baby food. She considered starting a baby food business but couldn't find anywhere to produce it. That got her thinking about creating rentable kitchen space. "I spent several years wrapping my head around what people needed," she says.

The building also houses a cookbook library that's open to the public and the nonprofit Recycle Pots and Pans, which provides kitchen items to people in need. Two years in, she's still adding services. She's in the process of creating space for clients to brew beer and roast coffee. When the equipment is in place, food professionals and enthusiasts will be able to take classes to learn to use it.

Renting the building that used to house a bowling alley and a company that made specialty motor coaches, Djupe opened with investment funds, including a Kickstarter campaign that generated $47,770.

The variety of offerings at The Commissary is designed to create a steady income for the business but still remain affordable to clients, Djupe says.

She says she has been surprised by how long it takes people to commit to trying to turn their ideas into reality. "We continue to learn as we go," she says. "We just want to be really helpful."

Melissa Kossler Dutton is afreelance writer.