Created: January 03, 2023 08:00 am
BEDC’s Shalini Johnstone, center, with Trevor Johnstone and his wife, Maricela, the operators of Plant-Based Fuel BDA (Photo provided)
The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation has launched a program to help food entrepreneurs on the island operate their businesses in fully licensed commercial kitchens.
The BEDC said the goal of the Community User Underutilized Commercial Kitchen Program is to provide interested entrepreneurs with a quality, affordable work environment to support starting or expanding their business while also providing commercial kitchen owners the revenue from the facility they would like. otherwise not receive.
The initiative has two elements: a matching program that matches entrepreneurs with commercial kitchen owners, as well as direct rentals by BEDC to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Jamillah Lodge, BEDC’s interim executive director, said the organization regularly receives requests from aspiring culinary entrepreneurs seeking information on the availability of commercial kitchens for their businesses.
She said: “With all the applications we received, we realized there was an opportunity to support small businesses looking for space.
“We know that there are underutilized kitchens around the island in churches and community clubs.
“We know that some licensed kitchens on the island are not fully utilized.
“Then the idea is to link them with potential entrepreneurs interested in preparing and selling food.”
Once matched up, the two parties are free to make a deal.
Three of the kitchens in the corresponding program are located at St James Church in Sandys, One Stop Variety in Pembroke and the Midland Heights Seventh-day Adventist Church in Hamilton Parish.
The BEDC takes an even more active role in the second element of the programme; rents out space at soup kitchens, including at Bethel AME Church near Shelly Bay, and then rents out the space to users in the community.
William Spriggs, BEDC’s director of economic and cooperative development, is leading the underutilized stoves project, with support from program manager Shalini Johnstone.
Mr Spriggs said: “Some people don’t need all the trappings of a 24/7 kitchen. They may only need a few hours a week.”
He said the program gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to move out of a home kitchen or transition from a part-time business to a full-time one.
Trevor Johnstone and his wife, Maricela, run Plant-Based Fuel BDA, the food service business that offers creative, high-quality vegan/vegetarian food.
In addition to catering, meal planning and personal chef services, the company offers a weekly grab-and-go menu, all prepared in Bethel AME’s kitchen.
Mr. Johnstone, the chef and owner, said he started working in Bethel AME’s kitchen on July 1 and spends full days there Monday through Thursday.
He said the show is “well, well, well, I like it.”
Mr. Johnstone added: “I can do more in terms of production and production volume. I can do bigger catering jobs because now I have space to prepare and store food.”
BEDC said all kitchens in the program are fully licensed and meet health code standards.
So, in addition to eliminating the need for small businesses to take on the debt of buying expensive equipment or signing a long-term lease, one of the licensing requirements is also met.
To date, most kitchens in the program are owned by sports clubs and churches, but BEDC is also open to proposals for underutilized restaurant kitchens.
Ms Lodge says: “Our goal is to identify more kitchens and let people know they are available.”
Kitchen owners or potential renters are asked to contact BEDC to register their interest in the program.
BEDC Jamillah Lodge (Photo provided)
BEDC’s William Spriggs (Photo supplied)