It’s been branded as a way to help refugees in Salt Lake City establish a foundation for a restaurant business and inspire diverse fare, but it’s also a way to boost the local economy. The Salt Lake City council tonight will consider providing some start-up funds for the construction of what’s known as an “incubator kitchen” downtown at The Leonardo.
Before Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa was involved in politics, he ran the People’s Market in Salt Lake City, where local vendors, farmers and gardeners can sell their goods. LaMalfa says he was often approached by someone with a great idea for a food-related business or recipe to sell.
“You’ve got to give them a reality check when that comes up and say you’ve got to get your permits, you’ve got to get your recipe approved, you’ve got to get into a commercial kitchen, you’ve got to get your labeling right. 99 percent of the time that is too burdensome to take on yourself,” LaMalfa says.
LaMalfa says Salt Lake City’s lack of a commercial kitchen is a major hurdle for some entrepreneurs.
David Everett is Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker’s Chief of Staff. He says a commercial kitchen is a critical part of having a healthy community food system.
“There is the incubator concept, where it’s strictly about new businesses or people who don’t currently have a business and like Kyle was saying want to learn or need to learn, there may be also a place for businesses that are currently operating but need to expand or maybe opportunities for education," Everett says.
The Salt Lake City council is considering a grant of between $155,000 and $255,000, enough to pay for more than half of the total cost of the project. Councilman LaMalfa says the city can leverage the investment with the help of the Community Reinvestment Act, venture capitalists and other non-profits interested in the project.