Bridgett Crews and Krista Keithly, the ladies responsible for the awesome Hilltop Pop Shop, have another venture started early this year. Free-Range Kitchen, a culinary incubator located on Tacoma’s 6th Avenue, is a way for small food businesses to get started in a relatively low-risk way. It’s a pretty cool idea, and one that was needed in the South Sound.
It was an idea born from necessity. Bridgett and Krista needed a permanent place to produce their local, organic fruit popsicles for Hilltop Pop Shop. They also wanted to share the knowledge they’ve learned from their own food business, while fostering a sense of community.
Free-Range Kitchen is more than just a commercial kitchen. Upon first meeting Bridgett and Krista, I was immediately impressed with their passion and dedication to the community and desire to help small food businesses become successful.
The concept: Free-Range Kitchen creates an low-cost opportunity for fledgling food businesses to start up and learn the business, as well as a commercial kitchen in which to produce their food or products. Businesses utilize the commercial kitchen part-time, and many sell their goods at local farmers markets.
Starting a food business is often a daunting process. There’s insurance, licenses, food handler’s cards…and that’s all before you can begin doing what you actually love, cooking or producing a food product. Then you add up the equipment costs to get started, rent for a production space, and you get the idea. It’s expensive and can be confusing for new business owners.
That’s where Free-Range Kitchen shines. Bridgett and Krista walk clients through the process of starting their business, and then provide a part-time, low-cost and low-risk space that’s already a certified kitchen ready to use. Then there are the the things that come as an extra bonus to really help businesses succeed: Space to meet with clients, hold events and store products. This full-service approach is what makes Free-Range Kitchen stand out from other local commercial kitchens that are for rent.
The response they’ve had to Free-Range Kitchen demonstrates the need it’s filling in the community. I’ve seen many of these businesses at local farmers markets, and enjoy what they have to offer.
Businesses currently producing out of Free-Range Kitchen include:
Hilltop Pop Shop
Pierce County Gleaning Project
Baladi Argan Oil and Moroccan Cuisine
Cashew Blanca – vegan cheesecake
Pali’s Pizza – Hand-made take and bake pizza
Good Booch – Handmade kombucha
Carnivorous – Paleo catering
The Black Flag
Crepe Nuvo – Gluten free crepes
Ooh La La Burgers
Island Breeze – Polynesian catering
Wellness Tailored 4 u – Diabetic health coaching and Asian healthy cooking
They’re always looking for new clients. If you’re thinking of opening a local Tacoma area food business, submit an application to Free-Range Kitchen and get started doing what you love to do.