Sep. 16—LAWRENCE — Business and community leaders recently sampled food from a buffet prepared by two local entrepreneurs in the Revolving Test Kitchen.
The Revolving Test Kitchen, which originally opened in December 2016, is located on the first floor of Northern Essex Community College at 420 Common St.
Originally the test kitchen was an incubator and pop-up restaurant for one entrepreneur at a time. But it now includes a commercial kitchen and food incubator designed to accommodate a wide range of businesses, including food trucks, catering companies, small batch manufacturers and food delivery companies. It also offers members access to culinary and business experts in the food industry, according to information provided by NECC.
On Monday, Sept. 13, a small group came together for a ribbon cutting in the newly renovated space. A buffet was prepared by two Revolving Test Kitchen members — Danny Torres of El Canto, who runs a food truck featuring Puerto Rican fare, and Jessy Melo, owner of Jessy's Clan Meals, a weekly meal prep service.
Revolving Test Kitchen members pay a $350 refundable deposit and a monthly base rent of $350 that includes 10 hours of kitchen time, as well as facility costs, food safety auditing, member meetings, roundtable discussions and promotion.
"We are looking for businesses to come and join," said George Ramirez, executive director the Lawrence Partnership, which combines public and private efforts to improve the city's economy.
He said Lawrence is emerging as an area for food-based businesses.
"But with the challenges new food service businesses face around capital and start-up costs, many great ideas never get off the ground. This new approach to the Revolving Test Kitchen offers serious entrepreneurs an important hand up through experts and facilities that make it possible to bring their idea to life and sustain it for the long term," he said.
"If you have been cooking from home and are looking to grow, we would love to partner with you," Ramirez said.
During the recent gathering, NECC President Lane Glenn said that "everything about this space embraces the best of this city."
He noted the building was nearly empty a few years ago. But now college classes are offered there, preparing locals for careers, and "this new space will help launch aspiring food entrepreneurs. It's exciting," said Glenn.
To learn more about the test kitchen and find an application, check out the partnership's website at lawrencepartnership.org.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.