Test Kitchen Heats Up

If you're an entrepreneur in the Tampa Bay area interested in the restaurant or food industry, but you don't have a place to test your ideas, the Pinellas County Business Development Center may have an answer for you.

The Center has teamed up with local business incubator Your Pro Kitchen, a test kitchen in St. Petersburg complete with stainless steel vents, ovens and prep tables that invites would-be restaurant or food service companies to come in and test out their creations in a commercial environment. Many start-up companies cannot afford to build a commercial kitchen to start or test a business.

The incubator has a staff to assist entrepreneurs, who pay a fee to use the test facilities. The staff also helps start-up companies with licensing, permitting and FDA questions, says Cindy Herman, president of Your Pro Kitchen. State and local laws require that any food prepared for the public be prepared in a commercially licensed kitchen.

The venture combines the business assistance of the Center with the industry experience of the staff at Your Pro, says Cynthia Johnson, senior manager at the Center.

The test kitchen is the only one of its kind in Florida and one of only three nationally.

The Tampa Bay area is home to several successful start-up restaurant and food ventures, including
Outback Steakhouse, Beef O' Brady's, Checker's, Evos and First Watch.

Dave Szymanski, a Tampa-based journalist, likes running 5ks, other sports and writing poetry. Comments?
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