JAMAICA, QUEENS – Food business owners and entrepreneurs in Queens will soon have a space – a big space – to create and grow their businesses, and they won’t have to travel far.
Essential Kitchen in Jamaica is the first Black-owned commercial kitchen in New York City. From the outside it looks like a regular brick building on a busy street, but to Executive Director Dianna Rose, it’s a dream come true.
“We were stretched thin on capital,” Rose said. “We were stretched thin on sleep. We were stretched thin on every resource, but you know what? The community said, ‘No Dianna, we got you.’”
She was so close to giving up but powered through. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Wednesday after years of hard work and it’s not an accomplishment she plans to keep for herself.
The 6,500-square-foot space will be available for fellow food business owners and entrepreneurs who may not have the capital to create and scale their own businesses.
Natrea Blake, a friend of Rose’s from the Laurelton Farmer’s Market, said the new space will give those in the community a stable foundation.
“Now they’ll have a resource and a place to come and make their body butters or make food,” Blake said. “She’s now providing that. She’s now filling that void.”
The coworking space will facilitate opportunities to succeed in making custom products, catering meals, or putting out special orders.
“There’s such a need for it, so the impact stretches from everything from actually providing the physical space for businesses to prepare delicious and custom meals but also providing the resources,” Rose said.
Available resources include access to grant information and contracts. Rose said small businesses are not always prioritized for city contracts because they don’t have the capacity.
The facility is not fully operational yet, but with donations they hope to start soon.
Rose also said it doesn’t matter what your background is – ethnically or professionally. As long as you have the drive and ambition to create, the space is available to help grow your business.