Commercial kitchens in Oakland serve as incubators for food start-ups

On a rainy Friday morning in a downtown Oakland home, Natalie Pearce, founder of Natty Cakes Bakery, is fussing with a vegan recipe for buttercream icing, which she has been fine-tuning for two months. She is making her unique homemade “butter” by combining a butter substitute and coconut oil, but she stated that it’s a finicky recipe and can turn out differently due to unexpected factors like the climate. After combining it in two large blenders, she tastes it and remarks, “It’s better than the last time.”

Nearby, Pearce’s assistant baker Jenna Brotman can be helping in the kitchen, using a large machine to roll pie dough for what they expect will be a busy few weeks before Thanksgiving. On this morning, Pearce’s may be the only business working in the kitchen. It is quiet aside from the delicate humming of the oven and the occasional whirring noises of the blenders.

This is a standard day for Natalie at Kitchener, one of the commercial kitchens in Oakland-industrial kitchens that rent out space to startup food businesses. Many business owners begin in commercial kitchens as the overhead costs happen to be lower than building out a home of their own, especially during the early stages. In addition to prep space, professional kitchens can also offer space for entrepreneurs to check recipes, share resources, and collaborate with other businesses.

Read the remaining story by Muna Danish at Oakland North.

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