United We Snack

Taste dozens of gourmet snacks, all in one delicious place

"So many people are hungry for commercial kitchen space, but who has $100,000 to drop when they're just starting out?"

That sentiment could come from just about any small food entrepreneur; however, in this case, they come from one who did something about it–Kelly Ford, founder of United Kitchen in La Grange.

United Kitchen is different from most commercial kitchens in that it combines a bright, open commercial kitchen with a retail store, so customers can get a taste of dozens of independent artisans all in one space. Many commercial kitchens are decidedly not open to the public, but here you can watch your favorite snacks being assembled and mingle with the putting them together.

Kokku Chocolate Sauces, Serendipity Sweet Things Cake Pops and some of the other vendors at United Kitchen

So if you love, say, Kokku Distinctive Gourmet's rich chocolate sauces, you can watch founder Kevin Roblee melting and mixing. If you want to pick up a bag of Aggie's addictive broken pretzel bites, you can suggest new flavors to owner Bob Driscoll at the same time.

Why is it all the way out in La Grange? Well, despite some reforms, it's still tough to run any sort of shared kitchen in Chicago proper. But Ford says her experience with La Grange has been wonderful.

It's worth the trip. There's a butcher, a salsa company, cookies galore, and even a pasta sauce maker. Ford's got 25 different tenants, and there's room for more.

The future for small food businesses? It's in downtown La Grange.