Created: Jan 03, 2023 08:00 AM
Shalini Johnstone of BEDC, center, with Trevor Johnstone and his wife, Maricela, of Plant-Based Fuel company BDA (Photograph supplied)
The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation has announced a program to assist the island’s food entrepreneurs to operate their businesses in licensed commercial kitchens.
According to BEDC, the goal of the Underutilized Commercial Kitchens Program for Community Users is to provide interested entrepreneurs with an affordable, efficient work environment to support their start-up or expansion businesses and at the same time to give the kitchen business owners some income that they will get. otherwise it will not be found.
There are two elements to the plan – a matching program to introduce business owners to commercial kitchen makers, as well as BEDC’s direct listings to commercial customers.
Jamillah Lodge, deputy chief executive of BEDC, said that the organization often receives requests from business customers seeking information about the availability of commercial kitchens for their businesses.
He said: “With all the requests we received, we realized there was an opportunity to support small businesses looking for opportunities.
“We know that there are kitchens that are not being used in the island in churches and clubhouses.
“We know that some licensed kitchens on the island are not fully utilized.
“So the idea is to match them with entrepreneurs who like to prepare and sell food.”
Once agreed, both parties are free to make a deal.
Three kitchens in the matching program are located at St James Church in Sandys, One Stop Variety in Pembroke, and Midland Heights Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hamilton Parish.
BEDC is more involved in the second element of the program; to rent space in community kitchens, including the Bethel AME Church near Shelly Bay, and then pay for the space to community users.
William Spriggs, director of economic development and co-operation at BEDC, is the leader of the untapped kitchen, supported by the manager. the Shalini Johnstone programme.
Mr Spriggs said: “Some people don’t need full use of the kitchen 24/7. They may only need a few hours a week.”
According to him, the program gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to leave the kitchen, or change from part-time to a full-time business.
Trevor Johnstone and his wife, Maricela, run Plant-Based Fuel BDA, the food service business providing high quality and creative plant-based/vegan food.
In addition to catering, meal planning and personal cooking services, the business offers a weekly menu of meals for pick-up, all of which are prepared in the kitchen at Bethel AME.
Mr Johnstone, the chef and manager, said he started working from the Bethel AME kitchen on July 1, and spent all day there from Monday to Thursday.
He said the program was “good, good, good – I love it”.
Mr Johnstone added: “I can do more in terms of production, and more production. I can do big catering jobs now that I have the opportunity to prepare and hold food.”
According to BEDC, all kitchens in the program have been licensed and are up to health standards.
In addition, in addition to eliminating the need for small businesses to pay debts to buy expensive equipment or to sign a long lease, one of the license requirements is to take care of it, as well.
Until now, most of the kitchens in the program are included in sports clubs and churches, but the BEDC is available for information from restaurant kitchens that are not used.
Ms Lodge said: “Our aim is to make kitchens more popular and let people know they are available.”
Kitchen owners or potential tenants are asked to contact BEDC to register their interest in the program.
Jamillah Lodge of BEDC (Photo provided)
William Spriggs of BEDC (Photo provided)