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The Enterprise Center’s Shared-Use Kitchen a stepping stone for entrepreneurs

Shirley Hayes George, Flava Catering, works in the shared-use kitchen at The Enterprise Center.

The Enterprise Center’s Shared-Use Kitchen a stepping stone for entrepreneurs
January 10
09:27 2019

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

Forsyth County’s only shared-use kitchen is now fully occupied with six local entrepreneurs utilizing the space on a rotating schedule. Although the official ribbon cutting was held in June, as reported in a story by Tevin Stinson in the June 28 Chronicle Issue, it is now operating at full strength with six current participants: Joshua and Ebony Young, Superior Catering and Events; Crissy Faison, Leanback Soul Food; Shereen Abdell Fattah, Delicious by Shareen; Chef Santa Faison, Twin City Catering Company; Chef Shirley Hayes-George, Flava Catering; and Susette Marot, Defining Desserts LLC.

Telissa Fair Ward, Shared-Use Kitchen coordinator, said that the kitchen is limited to six participants at a time with contracts that run for six months, and new participants join to replace those that are expiring. This gives participants six months to get their businesses up and running. Participants submit an application with their business plan, have successfully completed the Safe-Serve certification with the Health Department, and pay a rental fee. The kitchen includes a commercial stove, ovens, mixer, refrigerators, and individual storage rooms for each participant.

Carol Davis, executive director of the S. G. Atkins CDC, came up with the idea of opening a shared-use kitchen and applied for grants to underwrite the cost to build the kitchen. The Enterprise Center partnered with the City of Winston-Salem, Winston-Salem State University (WSSU), Forsyth Technical Community College (FTCC) Small Business Center, the Dept. of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Commerce to bring the idea to fruition.

Ward said, “Shared-use kitchens are a fast-growing trend and we are excited to be a part of this.” She visited several kitchens in Charlotte and Durham to learn best practices as she began to establish the procedures for the Center’s kitchen. The Forsyth County Health Department issued the permit for the kitchen in November, but each participant must also receive a permit.

Crissy Faison of Leanback Soul Food said that she had been looking for a certified kitchen to use ever since she moved to Winston-Salem. “I didn’t realize how tough it was going to be as there were no incubator-type facilities permitted by the Health Department in the area. I heard about the kitchen in March of 2018 and have been waiting patiently for it open. The day after the Launch Challenge [a program sponsored by six local colleges/universities to provide financial capital to selected persons to help start their business] finalist presentations, I was notified by Telissa Ward that I was one of the honored chefs to be able to use the shared kitchen. So many people were trying to get in, so knowing how hard I have been working, it is truly an honor to be selected. There is nothing like doing business the right way and the Enterprise Center shared-use kitchen has enabled me to do just that.”

Allan Younger, director of the FTCC Small Business Center, said that several of the kitchen participants are Center clients. “This kitchen is a great addition to our community. The Small Business Center works with several food entrepreneurs who are challenged to find professional kitchen space that will help them to increase their business success.”

One benefit of the on-site kitchen is that the participants are also approved caterers for the 38 businesses located in The Enterprise Center. According to Ward, there is a catered event or business meeting almost every day, giving the participants an opportunity to showcase their talents and build their businesses through networking. Ward said, “From the beginning I wanted this to be as diverse as possible, from soul food to Mediterranean to bakers.” Currently there are caterers, bakers, and a professor teaching an entrepreneur class. Shereen Abdell Fattah of Delicious by Shareen just received a grant from the Winston-Salem Foundation to teach refugee women how to prepare meals to be self-sustaining.

Shirley Hayes George of Flava Catering has been cooking for various restaurants for over 20 years, but personally catering only a couple years and was using space in a local kitchen. She said Ward asked her if she would be interested in participating in a shared-use kitchen and she emphatically replied, “Would I!” She was already a preferred caterer for The Enterprise Conference and Banquet Center and the first person to apply to the shared-use kitchen.

George said, “This means the world to me. This has really opened up my career. Instead of making money for someone else, I’m making my own.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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