New shared culinary testing kitchen to debut in St. Pete
Longtime entrepreneur and founder of the Serious Foodie Sauce company Jim Pachence and his team are preparing to open St. Petersburg’s first shared commercial kitchen concept.
The Foodie Labs is under construction on the ArtsXChange campus, in the Warehouse Arts District, at 515 22nd St. S.
The new 5,000-square-foot building will contain eight commercial cook stations, a main baking station, a professional demonstration kitchen, an event space and a pop-up café.
“I’ve started several companies in the tech industry, and like the principle for any successful startup, you are coming up with a solution for a problem,” Pachence said, stating there’s a lack of commercial kitchen space and resources in the city.
“We’ve talked with chefs who own restaurants and food truck operators who need this space to test out food items or fast-casual concepts,” he said. “I’ve spent years diving deep into this business model, and the best way to execute this would be to touch all the sweet spots – the ghost and commercial kitchens – we want to help build the culinary community.”
The Foodie Labs is expected to open this April.
A breakdown of uses the new space will feature:
- Virtual food hall/ghost kitchen (to prepare food for pick-up): There would be up to six restauranteurs in this space, which would feature grab-and-go food options with a pickup window.
- Test kitchen/commercial kitchen: This part of the kitchen would be used by food truck operators, caterers and chefs interested in food preparation or culinary discovery. It would be a shared kitchen space for testing recipes, packing and prepping with all-day access.
- Professional demonstration kitchen: This would be designated for food demonstrations, special events and pop-up restaurants needing food photography, videography, food styling and staging.
The Foodie Labs will provide a three-tier mentoring and marketing program for the users, including necessary certifications, licensing, classes and networking.
Pachence said the cost for users will be roughly $3,000, to make it accessible for young chefs striving to eventually open a restaurant or food truck business.
“We are fronting the costs of the capital investment, which is the biggest hurdle for most people,” Pachence said.
Kristin McKinney Zelinsky, a 25-year culinary professional and owner of the Pro Kitchen Hub in Tampa, is Pachence’s business partner. Zalinsky, a St. Pete native, has experience training aspiring chefs at her business.
The Foodie Labs team worked with DFCU Financial (previously known as First Citrus Bank) on financing the project.