Start a Food Business

Interested in launching your food business with Common Wealth Kitchen?
Start by filling out our interest form.

CommonWealth Kitchen helps our members grow from business idea, through business set-up and permitting, to starting production at our facility, with ongoing support throughout your time at CWK.

If you're interested in becoming a CWK member, the first step is to submit the interest form above. We will get back to you within a couple weeks with our full application packet. We accept applications on a rolling basis. While we would like to help everyone realize their dreams, we have a high volume of interested food businesses and cannot accept all of the interested applicants at this time.

Not ready to fill out the initial application? Want to come get a tour of the space? Come to one of our information sessions and tour the facility (see News & Events). 

Once we’ve reviewed your initial application, we’ll work with you through all the steps involved in starting your business: 

YOUR PRODUCT AND PROCESS

  • Food Testing (if needed)
  • ServSafe Manager Certification
  • Food Process Flow Plan
  • Recipe Scaling
  • Sourcing ingredients
  • Distribution
  • Health Department Permitting Process

YOUR PRODUCT AND LABELING

  • Packaging for Your Product
  • Logo and Label Design
  • Label Printing
  • Food Safety Testing
  • Ingredient Labeling

YOUR BUSINESS AND LEGAL NEEDS

  • Financial Analysis (pro-forma)
  • Business Plan
  • Establishing your Business Entity
  • Trademarking Your Name
  • Insurance
  • Website, Social Media, and Branding
Once you’ve worked through all the steps above, you’ll be a fully permitted food business ready to start production at CWK’s kitchens! As a CWK entrepreneur, we continue to help you grow and scale through:

  • Ongoing recipe development & scaling
  • Improving production flow in the kitchen
  • Sourcing ingredients
  • Working with distributors
  • Perfecting your pitch
  • Getting your product or service to market
  • Finding and hiring staff
  • Determining cost of goods
  • Access to capital

FAQs

How do I start using the kitchen at CWK?
To do production at CWK, you must become a member. The first step to become a member is to fill out our Interest Form. We’ll reply to you with our Full Application. If you have more questions before starting the process, feel free to come to our monthly information session & tour (see the Events page of our website to sign up for next month’s tour).
How much does it cost to be a member?
Click here to download our price list.
What are the benefits of being a member?

We provide different benefits at different stages of business growth. All members must be actively preparing for production or producing at CommonWealth Kitchen (click here to start our application process). See below for some benefits of being a member.

PRODUCTION & FACILITY BENEFITS:

- Base of Operations at our facility: Here are more details about our facility
- Mailbox at CWK
- Shared conference meeting space
- Shipping and Receiving: we receive up to 3 deliveries per company per week
- Access to commercial kitchen space and storage facility (additional charge)

FOOD BUSINESS SUPPORT:

- During product launch: connections to resources and service providers for topics including label design, label regulations, label printing, packaging, legal services, insurance, and food safety process development
- Workshops on a variety of food business-specific topics, including: pricing, food recall plans, HR and management, distribution, and marketing
- Access to office hours with a variety of food industry experts, financial consultants, and more
- Access to financing options at various stages of business development
- Connections to mentors in the industry
- Community of entrepreneurs, working alongside one another and collaborating at CWK

FOOD SAFETY & PROCESS SUPPORT:

- One-on-one support from our staff on topics including: recipe development and scaling, production process and efficiency, HACCP plan review, scaling with automated equipment, and health department permitting process consultation

SALES & MARKETING SUPPORT:

- Connections to local institutions, local retailers, and corporate partners for increased sales opportunities (see our current partners)
- Connections for pop-up opportunities, and local festivals and events.
How long does the application process take?
After you fill out the Interest Form, we’ll send our Full Application by email within a few weeks. The timeline for our application process depends on how far along you are in starting your business. After acceptance, the timeline to work through your business start-up before getting your health permit and starting the kitchen is up to you! It is based on your food testing needs and the speed at which you incorporate, get insurance, figure out packaging and labeling, get your ServSafe manager certification, etc. We have worked with companies that take between 2 months to almost a year from their first point of contact to starting production in the kitchen.
How can I get a tour of the kitchen?
Every third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 pm, we hold a tour and information session at our facility. This gives interested business owners a chance to see the facility, learn more about what we offer members, and ask questions! See the Events page of our website to sign up for next month's tour.
Do you offer tours to groups/schools?
We do not regularly offer tours, due to our limited staff. However, under some circumstances we do make exceptions, in which case we ask that you make a $200 donation to CWK.
What equipment do you have?
See a full list of our equipment in our shared kitchens here.
Which foods cannot be produced in your shared kitchen facility?
We are NOT able to produce the following in our shared kitchen:
  1. Food for Highly Susceptible Populations (with exceptions based on process)
  2. Nutritional supplements
  3. Food not intended for human consumption, such as makeup, soaps, and pet food
  4. Wholesale meat processing (we are not currently a USDA facility)
I need kitchen access for a one-time event. Can I rent your kitchen space?

We do not typically do one-time use rentals at CWK. Our priority is to support our members who have committed to meeting the monthly usage minimums in our shared kitchen and have a health permit to operate out of our facility. Unless you are an established business with an existing health permit (if selling the food), insurance, and are ServSafe Manager certified, the answer is unfortunately no.

If you do meet those base requirements for one-time use, please contact us with the following information: number of people planning to do production, date and time needs for the shared commercial kitchen, storage needs, and details of what you plan to produce. Our team will decide whether your needs could fit in with our current operations. If we are able to offer you one-time kitchen use, we would need the following from you: insurance listing CWK as additionally insured, a signed CWK hold harmless agreement, ServSafe Manager certificate for the Person-in-Charge, and a signed CWK one-time-use contract. The cost for non-member kitchen use is $75/hour.

Can I hold a cooking class in your facility?
We're big fans of educating the public about healthy cooking, canning, etc. but unfortunately we've found that our kitchen is not a good fit for cooking classes. Our member companies rely on available space to produce food for their business ventures, so holding a class in the kitchen often negatively impacts their operations.
How do I get one of your caterers or food trucks to cater my event?
Here is our list of our member companies by category: caterers and food trucks, packaged foods, and desserts & baked goods. The best way to get in touch is to reach out directly to the companies you would like to cater your event.
How do I advertise my festival/event to all CWK member companies?
We are always looking for great sales opportunities for our members! Please contact us with the following details about your event: # of people, other food already offered, paid/free event, date, location, budget.

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