Center for Culinary Enterprises could Be a Game Changer in West Philly

Source: Naked Philly
Date: January 23, 2012
Byline: Lou Mancinelli

Philly’s foodie culture is on a roll. From New York Times articles praising its evolution, to celebrity chefs Garces, Vetri, and Solomonov, our City of Brotherly Love is overflowing with culinary love. And now, in West Philly, a culinary incubator is preparing a recipe to create jobs and expand our city’s growing gamut of quality munch.

The Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE) is a 13K sqft project at 310 S. 48 St., currently under construction. When it opens this July, it will include:

Three state-of-the-art licensed commercial kitchens for rent to culinary entrepreneurs
Louie’s BBQ, a full service restaurant with an affiliated youth training program
The eKitchen Multimedia Learning Center
Two retail spaces that will be leased out

The space will function as a training site for food entrepreneurs interested in developing products or businesses, but lacking proper resources to expand and/or improve their operations, according to Gregory Heller, managing director for the Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation (ECCDC), the west-Philly based company developing the project.

“If you’re in New York and you’re an entrepreneur trying to start a pie-baking or jams and jelly or catering business, and you’re a start-up, or dealing with limited resources you would rent space from a kitchen incubator,” said Heller.

But in Philly, those incubators are rare.

Applicants across the region can apply for the CCE’s Food Ventures Program by submitting a business plan and meeting other criteria. Those selected can remain in the program for up to three years and receive benefits like an initial business assessment, access to a licensed commercial-kitchen space, one-on-one time with industry professionals, as well as technical and contractual assistance. These resources are sometimes hard to find when entrepreneurs of limited means try to make the jump from at-home-kitchen-business to the real deal. But the most important aspect of the initiative is the facility itself.

Designed to be an engine for creating food related jobs and businesses, the project is supported by a number of government and private funders, with investments from the City of Philadelphia and U.S. Eco­nomic Development Administration. The general contractor is Perryman Building and Construction, a West Philadelphia-based company, and the architect is Friday Architects/Planners. It is a LEED registered project.

According to its site, this food-business machine will create 13 full-time and 32 part-time on site positions.

So far more than 60 businesses have signed on. Those include visions for crabcakes, healthy snack foods, barbeque sauce, a full-service caterer, salmon burgers and El Salvadorian salsa.
We look forward to the manifestation of the culinary creations stirring in the minds of Philly’s eats-inspired entrepreneurs, and we wag our proverbial tails in praise for projects aimed at promoting local independently-owned businesses. We’re getting hungry already.