The Commissary Opens Doors to Local Food Community

Back in 2012, Kate Djupe had a dream of opening up a kitchen incubator facility in the up-and-coming Franklinton neighborhood. Two years later, The Commissary is officially opening, but the project has been relocated to 1400 Dublin Road in the Marble Cliff area, and with that move comes a sizable expansion as well.

“We would have been limited by the 4,000 square foot building in Franklinton and would have had to slowly ease into some things,” explains Djupe. “But because we moved over here into this larger 16,000 square foot building, we’re able to bring the community into the space in ways we wouldn’t have originally been able to.”

Some of those new community spaces include a flexible meeting room that can host cooking classes, pop-up restaurants or investor showcase dinners, as well as a food laboratory that will be fully operational in early 2015 with beer brewing equipment from Actual Brewing, coffee roasting equipment from Stauf’s, and a molecular gastronomy station outfitted with all kinds of experimental gadgets. The Commissary also boasts 15 parking spaces for food trucks where they can dock to recharge electricity and refill water and propane tanks.

“We’ll be bringing together different parts of the local food supply chain to talk so that we can be more effective,” says Djupe. “That means bringing farmers and chefs together in ways that we can make connections, which in turn benefits all of us.”

One of the main offerings of The Commissary are rental kitchens that can be utilized in half-hour increments, or customized and built out to rent with a longer term contract. The rental rates start as low as $11 per hour for prep stations, $19 per hour for hot stations and $25 per hour for speciality stations. The rental kitchens include pasta sheeters, a variety of mixers, washers and dryers for linens, and more than enough compartment sinks for cleanup.

“If there is a piece of equipment that we can get that would make things more efficient for a food maker, I want to make sure we can have it here,” says Djupe. “This is not always an easy career path, so I want to make it more sustainable for all of us.”

The three 600-square-foot private kitchens are where Djupe is seeing a lot of demand already. She says that one interested tenant wants to create a space to make their own sausages, and they want to build out a curing room in a part of the space.

“This is what I see the most potential in, which is not what I expected,” she says. “But building a commercial kitchen is very expensive, and if we already have the basic infrastructure and licenses for someone, it becomes a very nice way to get started.”

In between the workspaces is a casual hangout area stocked with comfy communal seating and a shelving wall dedicated to donated cookbooks and cake pans that can be shared and borrowed.

“There’s a couple of moments where I realized whole project is working exactly how I dreamed it would,” recalls Djupe. “One moment was when I had a couple of my favorite chefs from around town just sitting on the couches, flipping through cookbooks and talking and sharing ideas.”

The Commissary has already hosted some small private events for backers of their successful Kickstarter campaign, and will officially launch the venue this Sunday afternoon with a block party. Tickets are $55 and include food, drinks, entertainment and more.

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