By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
A little more than six months after opening on January 8 with four participating businesses, Real Good Kitchen (RGK) has 22 members under contract at its shared kitchen and food entrepreneurship hub located on Magnolia Avenue just a few blocks east of Downtown Knoxville.
“It’s super exciting,” Founder Bailey Foster says of the progress she has made since sharing the vision for RGK in this October 2018 teknovation.biz article. “We are growing steadily, and we still have plenty of available space.”
How many more food-focused businesses could utilize the space?
“Maybe 40 or 50,” Foster says, adding, “A lot of factors are at play.” They include the hours that the members need access to the facility, the equipment that they utilize, and the products that they are making.
“Our ideal is a range of food businesses with different needs,” Foster says in explaining the fact that different types of food businesses have varying requirements for food preparation, both in terms of production and scheduling needs and in equipment utilization.
Recently added members include:
- Ramen Bones, a food truck serving delicious ramen;
- Pippili Tea Company which is developing an organic chai concentrate;
- Eat My Granolathat makes small batch, organic granola;
- Get’cha Po-Boy, serving Louisiana style po-boys; and
- Seoul Brothers, a new Korean fusion restaurant that will be located in Marble City Food Hall.
A complete listing of members can be found here. As described on RGK’s webpage, there are four membership packages providing an accessible full-service solution for new and established food businesses – hourly, starter, producer and full-time. Each comes with a minimum number of kitchen hours per month, dry, cold or frozen storage, advance reservations, and cleaning supplies. The minimum price is $200 a month while the full-time option costs $1,500 a month.
I am delighted that we are open, have 22 member business, and are bringing value to them,” Foster said, underscoring her enthusiasm with three additional accomplishments. “Seventy percent of the members are woman-owned or co-owned, and 35 percent are owned by people of color. The majority of them are brand new businesses. We are definitely hitting our benchmarks.”
For those who might have passed RGK’s Magnolia Avenue location, the facility includes a storefront that could be used for community events or a retail space. Raising capital to renovate it is on Foster’s short list of upcoming projects which also includes establishing a companion nonprofit, the Real Good Kitchen Foundation, that will focus on food entrepreneurship programs, scholarships and food equity and access
“I have a lot of work still to do,” she says even though RGK has come such a long way since we first talked with Foster nearly three years ago about the initiative.