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Inside Northern Kentucky’s Community Kitchen

Incubator Kitchen Collective is a Kentucky nonprofit helping entrepreneurs spice up the local food scene.

By Amy Antonation on April 3, 2023

Blinkers Tavern in Covington, KY
Jeff Adkins

“We have phenomenal food makers all over our region,” says Rachel DesRochers. “No one should be eating badly in Northern Kentucky.” 

The founder of Newport’s Incubator Kitchen Collective should know: She’s assisted 170 local food startups through the nonprofit, which provides entrepreneurs with shared kitchen space and networking opportunities. 

DesRochers got the idea when she launched Grateful Grahams, a line of vegan graham crackers, in 2010. “We were at six farmers markets a week,” she says. “When we moved into our production facility, we were out by 6 a.m. every day, and the space sat empty.” 

In 2013, DesRochers brought a few other businesses in to use the space during Grateful Grahams’ off hours; now, Incubator Kitchen Collective rents 10,000 square feet of commercial kitchen space at below-market rates to businesses that need “minimal barriers to entry and a champion,” she says. 

Man works at the Incubator Kitchen Collective in Northern Kentucky.
Tasha Pinelo Photography

The collective generally has 35 to 45 tenants at a time; currently, about 40% are Black, Indigenous or People of Color-owned (BIPOC). The mix of packaged goods producers, bakeries, food trucks, caterers and meal-prep services pay rent based on the number of hours they use the facility. 

Thanks to a partnership with supermarket giant Kroger in 2022, five new businesses were awarded a spot in the kitchen for one year at no cost. For 2023, says DesRochers, the number of applicants for the grant doubled, and Incubator Kitchen Collective was able to provide eight budding businesses the same opportunity — including two current tenants. 

“We talked to every company that applied,” DesRochers says. “That’s important to me, even though it’s an entire week’s worth of work. You hear the passion; you hear the tradition; you hear the story.” 

Want to learn more about living and working in the Northern Kentucky region? Check out the latest edition of Livability Northern Kentucky.

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