In the whirlwind of just a few short months, The Commissary has become many things to many people. The multipurpose commercial kitchen and event space that serves to build the local food scene opened its doors at 1400 Dublin Rd. in the Marble Cliff area in November.
“We’ve had so much support and interest in our space from the community and from makers, so the last few months have been a lot of trying to figure out how to let everybody in to do all the fun things they want to,” says Founder Kate Djupe.
She built The Commissary around the idea of kitchen space and providing whatever food-based businesses or entrepreneurs would need to work.
“We have a lot of food makers that are coming in and building their business in our kitchen,” Djupe says. “That’s been a lot of fun to find out what their future goals are and help them work towards those in a smart way.”
Six prep stations and four hot-line stations are available for rent for business or personal use. The Commissary is also decked out with almost any tool or gadget a chef could need, from six to 40 quart mixers, rice cookers, pressure cookers, sheeters and proofers, to a blast chiller and vacuum sealer and a full kit of gastronomy tools.
“If there’s a piece of equipment that we could have that makes things easier or more efficient for the makers in our kitchen, then we’ve tried to make sure if we don’t have that, it’s on our shopping list,” Djupe says.
Businesses can also rent dry goods and refrigerated storage space. That goes for food trucks, too. There’s space for 15 trucks to park and connect to power stations and water hookups. It’s a food truck base camp. A drive-thru makes stocking and clean-up convenient as well.
Slots and space are still available to accommodate makers. Clients of The Commissary don’t have to pay a membership rate or fee, but instead pay as they go, with 24/7 access for as much or as little as they need.
The help The Commissary provides goes beyond physical kitchen space, but includes opportunities to hold events, and even seek out-of-the kitchen business guidance.
“Having a food business or working in the food industry is a really difficult job,” Djupe says. “It’s physically and emotionally demanding and what we’d like to do is find as many ways as possible to help make that a little bit easier, too, so people can focus on the part they enjoy the most, which is probably preparing food.”
A series of classes called Create Your Business guides makers through the technical, nitty-gritty of building a business. The classes cover everything from registration to branding, marketing and financing. It helps define that fine line between when a business owner should do something themselves, and when they need to hire.
“We’re really finding there’s a lot of interest in these sorts of classes,” Djupe says.
The following year will bring about even more ways makers can play with food at The Commissary.
“With a lot of help and guidance from Fred Lee at Actual Brewing Company and Mark Swanson at Staufs Coffee Roasters, we have been planning out what we call our experiment lab,” Djupe says.
A coffee roaster is on its way to installation, along with an espresso machine. Both will open the door to a new set of classes covering topics like roasting and latte art. On a small brew system, makers can learn how to brew beer, or local brewmasters can come together to experiment with flavors. No set timeline is in place, as much of the process is dependent upon permitting.
The Commissary is also working on building private kitchens. The kitchens will be 450 – 600 square-foot spaces touting one to three year leases.
“It can be for anybody who is able and willing to commit to a longer time period and needs exclusive kitchen space,” Djupe says. For example, The Commissary isn’t currently equipped for gluten free production because they don’t have exclusive equipment, but if a gluten free baker wanted to come in, they could utilize a private kitchen.
“We have a pretty high demand on those,” Djupe says.
High demand describes most facets of The Commissary, including some interest Djupe wasn’t quite expecting.
“The thing that I wasn’t expecting was how much the community would want to come in and use space,” Djupe says. “I’m really excited that so many people want to join us and play with food.”
Community-based events have included corporate retreats and team building exercises, private parties and cooking classes. Figuring out the process and the procedure for such events has been another in the list of growing a business good problems to have.
Events are a huge part of The Commissary. From one-on-one parent child cooking class Little Chef + Big Chef, to The Good Egg series that highlights how pretty much anything is better with an egg on top, to cooking classes where individuals can learn to make croissants or focaccia, to pop-up restaurants, there is abundant and ever-evolving ways to get involved at the space.
Growth and fine tuning are what’s in the plans for The Commissary.
“We’re just prioritizing and trying to get things up as fast as we can,” Djupe says. “We have a lot of room to grow. I want to encourage a really collaborative environment where we’re able to grow the Columbus food scene together. I want more and better local food.”
She encourages people to play with food, experiment with food. It’s a mindset that’s seen not only at The Commissary with food, but at places across the city like The Idea Founder or Igloo Letterpress.
“Columbus is known as test city,” Djupe says. “We’ve got this great mindset where you come to try things here.” The Commissary aims to be that place in Columbus to try things with food.
For more information, visit thecommissarycolumbus.com.