Space Saver

One kitchen, manifold uses

We occasionally fantasize about opening the perfect neighborhood bakery. That is, until the reality of production and licensing fees sends us tripping toward the nearest café.

For more determined entrepreneurs, there is the new wave of kitchen incubators.

These mainly nonprofit operations rent out low-cost commercial kitchen space and teach trade essentials to food-business beginners. A boon to local economies (and taste buds), this shared-space approach is now spreading across the country:

Durham, North Carolina: The Cookery, which opened in April, strives to transform home cooks into savvy businesspeople. In addition to the fully equipped kitchen, the space provides culinary workshops and industry seminars for its tenants.

Norco, Louisiana: The workers at Edible Enterprises double as publicists for their participants, securing them TV spots and even partnering with a local dairy to incorporate products into ice cream in various flavors, which is then sold at grocery stores.

Fort Collins, Colorado: Devoted to sustainability and local economic development, the folks at Northern Colorado Food Incubator host Local Harvest Happy Hours and winter farmers' markets for members.

New York: After its beginnings as a nonprofit bread bakery staffed by immigrant women, Hot Bread Kitchen recently launched an incubator program that focuses on women- and minority-led outfits.

San Francisco: Born in 2005, incubator pioneer La Cocina now sells gift boxes nationwide; the tasty packages are crammed with such goodies as Brazilian honey cakes from Kika's Treats and caramel-chocolate shortbread from Clairesquares.