Have you sampled the mouth-watering cookies delivered straight from the oven from Chip Cookies? Or cut into a fresh sourdough loaf from the Time Traveler’s Bakery? If you live in Utah Valley, the chances are good you’ve come across their products: Chip Cookies now has locations around Utah and Idaho, and the Time Traveler’s Bakery opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in downtown Provo last year. Besides serving delicious food, both success stories have one thing in common: They got their start in The Potluck, our very own commercial kitchen designed for food startups.
“The Potluck Kitchen is the best place for those who are looking to get into the food business,” says Kanani Carmack, owner of The Pie Tin, a current Potluck resident. “The kitchen will actually help them and give them the tools they need to succeed.”
Interested in getting your own culinary dream off the ground? Here’s everything you need to know about why you should use The Potluck and who else is doing so:
Why Use The Potluck?
This commercial kitchen has everything a food business needs—and it meets all local safety and health regulations. At 533 square feet, The Potluck has space for food prep as well as cooking and is stocked with most of the equipment you’d find in any commercial kitchen, including the following:
- Six-burner stoves
- Two ovens
- One reach-in freezer
- One reach-in refrigerator
- Two convection ovens
- Two 20-quart stand mixers
- Four prep tables
- One proofing cabinet/hot holding box
- Bowls and other utensils
Rent at The Potluck is determined by income, and low-income entrepreneurs get priority. For example, if a renter’s income is 50 percent or below our guidelines, then rent is $5 per hour. For renters whose income is between 201 and 300 percent of our guidelines, rent is $20 per hour. For anyone whose income is 401 percent or above, rent is $80 per hour.
The Potluck is open for renters all day, every day. Of those hours, 120 are reserved for low-income entrepreneurs, with 48 hours for everyone else. The Potluck, however, does not accommodate food trucks. There are no seating areas, and serving food on-site is not allowed.
All users must have the following:
- Food handlers permit
- Food safety manager certificate
- Annual health permit
- Tax ID number
- Liability insurance
Users may also need a health permit from the Utah County Health Department or the state Department of Agriculture and Food. We also require a detailed business plan and financial information. You can find an application to use The Potluck here.
Who’s Using the Potluck?
For several years, The Potluck has helped entrepreneurs get their catering, bakery, and restaurant dreams off the ground. The Pie Tin, which sells pies at farmers and boutique markets, and Omanee Foods, which makes a kimchi rub, are two of the businesses now growing in The Potluck.
Taylor Roberts, owner of Omanee Foods, found The Potluck when he and his wife were looking for a commercial kitchen to start their business. It was a perfect fit for them because of the cost and support from Community Action—walking them through everything from making a business plan to how to make money.
When Carmack was ready to start her pie-making business, she knew The Potluck would be the right place to start. She was already familiar with the kitchen from her time working as a coach/caseworker at Community Action. In The Potluck, she found all the equipment she needed to get her product made and into her customers’ hands.
While The Potluck had to close briefly in 2020 due to the pandemic, Carmack and Roberts found that their businesses weren’t negatively impacted. In fact, Carmack has more business than ever, with demand for homemade pies at an all-time high. Roberts’s business, meanwhile, operates online and ships to homes, a business model perfect for pandemic shopping trends.
While both Carmack and Roberts have enjoyed working out of The Potluck, neither intends to stay. Roberts’s business plan includes adding more products, becoming a national brand, and selling in big stores. Meanwhile, Carmack would like to have her own space—a kid-friendly cafe, community event space, and storefront. With the help of The Potluck and Community Action, both are on their way to growing out of The Potluck and achieving these dreams, bringing their products to a larger consumer base.
Whether it’s helping a catering company, restaurant, or bakery, The Potluck’s mission is to help entrepreneurs get their food startups off the ground. It has everything a food business needs, including equipment, low rent, and support. If you’re ready to get your food business off the ground like Omanee Foods, The Pie Tin, Chip Cookies, and the Time Traveler’s Bakery, contact Jennifer Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 373-8200 ext. 239 to ask about our waiting list.