Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Indy’s Kitchen bakes up a $5 million annual business impact

By Leslie L. Fuller

If you visit Indy’s Kitchen on 2442 N. Central Ave. one morning, you will discover a dozen cooks whirling around a prep table. Peta Gay and Larry Wharton are preparing dishes for their Taste of the Caribbean Indy food truck and look up smiling is Indy’s Kitchen owner and operator Linda Gilkerson giving a cook’s tour of the incubator’s two industrial kitchens. On one counter, assembled 9×13 foil pans from the Food Florist, are neatly stacked for transport to the Indianapolis City Market.

On wire racks in the rear of the building, jars of Kombucha are steeping which will ultimately sate the thirst of customers of Presto Kombucha. On the wall, a marker board gives the schedule for the next four days: Kids Rule cooking class, Sunday, Ceres’ Basket, Real Clean Foods, Calliope. Monday and Tuesday, Food Florist.

In the catering list, the names include 3 Carrots, Harris, Citizen Hash, Taqueria, Scratch, and the Twisted Sicilian. The names on the wall and the kitchen activity give witness that a plethora of delicacies come out of the two kitchens housed here: pies, Italian food, food that is rolled, baked, fried, food that represents the dreams of entrepreneurs and small business operators who rent this space.

At 5 years old, the business incubator Indy’s Kitchen boasts about 70 current customers and 10 alumni. It seems like a small scale, with everyone present seeming to know each other, yet a recent economic study revealed this small space has an annual $5 million impact on the Indianapolis economy, said Gilkerson. “I know we were doing big things,” she said. “I think we’ll continue to do the same things.” She and her husband, Tom Abeel, are the business partners for Indy’s Kitchen, along with their friends, Paul Pickett and William Powell, who are also a couple.

Powell also owns the Monon Coffee Shop, which has one of its two locations at Indy’s Kitchen. The same things have included renting the kitchen out to a restaurant auditioning cooks for a chef’s position and children’s cooking classes. However, Indy’s Kitchen primarily is known as a place where people who dream of launching their own food-related company, whether it’s a cupcake bakery or a food truck, can get started without encumbering themselves with significant debt.

Here, as they rent a commercial cooking space by the hour, they will find numerous other like-minded folks with the same dreams, said Wilkerson. “We cook and eat together,” she said. Along with the food and fellowship comes an exchange of information and insights about business plans, food packaging and pricing, food trucks vs. catering, and hiring employees. Some of the businesses leasing the kitchens here will outgrow the space and move on to their own kitchen.

Alumni include the carryout-meal company Avec Moi, started by Kris Parmelee, which now has its own building. In Gilkerson’s view, Indy’s Kitchen greatly benefited by launching in time to address the needs of the hungry Super Bowl crowd. She also sees the rise of the local food truck movement, now an established part of the city’s food culture, as having its genesis during this time period. Besides Taste of the Caribbean, food trucks associated with Indy’s Kitchen include Spice Box, Caveman Truck, Bacon Babes, Calliope Sno-Balls, Cosmic Chrome Café, Der Pretzel Wagen, Far-Out Fred’s, Gaucho’s Fire, Gobble Gobble, Groovy Guy’s Fries, Huge Impact, Kona Ice, Lunch and Munch, Pierogi Love Indy, Seoulrito and many more.

Wilkerson believes it is generally unrealistic for companies to expect to collect grant money, although Indy’s Kitchen did receive a $100,000 windfall from a community block fund. “It was through King Park community development,” said Gilkerson. “They wanted us to stay in the neighborhood.” The monies had to be used for equipment, which Indy’s Kitchen used for an ice machine, a new cooler, a tilt skillet, and new food processor, among other purchases, she said. And Develop Indy identified Indy’s Kitchen as possessing potential to grow other small businesses and awarded $9,000 for technical assistance, a fund that was used to pay consultants to help the incubator’s businesses, as well as pay for the Economic Impact Study created by student researcher Santiago Hope.

Getting started at Indy’s Kitchen is not a huge investment, Gilkerson pointed out. Hourly rates run a high of $24 and a low of $14 depending on how many hours one purchases and if they use the kitchen services during peak or off-peak hours. Chefs can also rent a rolling storage shelf for $3; a rolling storage rack for $100, and or shelves in the walk-in cooler for $40 or $50, depending on size needed. A shelf in the freezer will set you back $40 or $50.

For information about Indy’s Kitchen, call (317) 426-2996 or email manager@indyskitchen.com.

Resources: Indy’s Kitchen recommends these business resources to its new entrepreneurs. Business Ownership Initiative offers classes for entrepreneurs. They are located at 4755 Kingsway Drive, Suite 314, Indianapolis, 46205; (317) 917-3266. Small Business Development Center offers classes and one-on-one counseling at Ivy Tech Community College, Suite 147 9301 E. 59th St., Indianapolis 46216; (317) 916-7529.

Your business plan

Name of business

Name of owners

Business type: is it sole proprietor, partnership or corporation

Business concept

Description of product

Your marketing plan

List of start-up expenses

Source of start-up funds

List your support team

How much time will you devote to your business?

Steps to get started

Tour the kitchen and ask questions.

Submit your plan to Indy’s Kitchen.

Sign a rental agreement and pay a $50 membership fee.

Obtain a license from the Marion County Health Department or the IN State Board of Health.

Show proof of product liability insurance with Indy’s Kitchen named as additional insured.

Indy’s Kitchen research

The related businesses generate $5,077,211 each year.

Of that figure, current clients account for $1,473,611 and alumni, or businesses who have gone out on their own, generate $3,603,600

Indy’s Kitchen businesses provide a total of 256 jobs with combined annual salaries of $1,939,208.

Of these jobs, 44 percent are full time, 56 percent are part-time.

The workforce contains 60 percent low-income residents, 29 percent are minority, 54 percent are women.

Indy’s Kitchen businesses generate $529,252 in state sales tax revenue. These businesses generate $574,426 in income tax revenue from salaries and wages.

Indy’s Kitchen occupies around 27,000 square feet of commercial space in the City of Indianapolis.

Related Articles

Follow Us

- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

Translate »
Skip to content