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Fayetteville entrepreneurs to get help launching food-related businesses

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CEED's shared kitchen space would resemble this culinary incubator in another state. CEED's shared kitchen space would resemble this culinary incubator in another state.

A concept that has helped Durham earn recognition as a fine food hub is now in the works in Fayetteville.

The non-profit Center for Economic Empowerment and Development in Fayetteville is planning a culinary incubator -- also called a kitchen incubator.

CEED is renovating a railroad warehouse into a shared commercial kitchen with retail and event space also. Entrepreneurs will be able to rent out the space to prepare food for catering or even to package and resell.

For example, entrepreneurs hoping to package cheeses, bottle sauces, or can jams and jellies will be able to use the space. A startup bakery or a bakery hoping to expand or add products are other potential users.

The commercial kitchen is designed to provide much more space than entrepreneurs would have at home, and it also eliminates huge start-up costs.

"We have a lot of businesses that come through our business center here that are looking to start a business, and the capital that's needed just to start something in the food industry just isn't economical for them," explained Suzy Hrabovsky, the chief operating officer for CEED. "[Our goal is] to get small businesses to grow, to help them become profitable, to turn their passion into something profitable."

The incubator is an exciting possibility for Jared and Cassie Vanecek, who are just starting out growing organic food on land in Fayetteville. They are creating a brand called "Primal Palate," and they would like to use the food they grow to do their own catering and even bottle a homemade blueberry barbeque sauce.

"It'll have the facilities available, whereas our home won't," Cassie Vanecek said.

Because the shared kitchen will have proper certifications for commercial use Vanecek will be able to bottle and label her sauce. She will also be able to sell any food she prepares there.

"Just having the workspace and having the certifications is just going to make life tremendously easier and save a lot of money too in the initial startup," explained Jared Vanecek.

The facility could also be used as a culinary classroom and a temporary restaurant, giving chefs and others a chance to share and test ideas.

The Vaneceks even hope to supply those start-up eateries with raw ingredients.

"To be able to have the opportunity for us to grow our business locally and support the local economy as well as support ourselves and provide a living for ourselves is really exciting," Cassie Vanecek commented.

The incubator is slated to open next year at a cost of $2.8 million. So in the meantime, the non-profit is working to get grants and private donations.

CEED is also hosting occasional information sessions about the incubator. More information is available at https://www.ncceed.org/kitchen-incubator/.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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