With a new year comes new opportunity for Maggie Driscoll, an aspiring entrepreneur who thinks she's found the recipe for success.
Driscoll, an Aptos-based caterer, is one of 60 people who hope to launch micro-enterprises in a shared commercial kitchen, scheduled to open in February on Riverside Drive.
The kitchen, which will rent space for food production on an hourly basis, is the latest venture of El Pajaro Community Development Corp., a nonprofit that's been supporting fledgling retail ventures for more than two decades at its business incubator on East Beach Street.
Construction of the 8,000-square-foot kitchen is wrapping up, and Wednesday, Driscoll visited the facility as crews began to install commercial cooking equipment.
"It's a great opportunity," said Driscoll, who plans to produce artisanal granola for upscale markets under the Bob Dylan-inspired name, Maggie's Farm. "I don't have the kind of money and resources to get a kitchen so this is ideal for me."
That's the situation for most aspiring micro-entreprenuers, said Jorge Reguerin, chairman of El Pajaro CDC's board. Being able to rent space at a "reasonable rate" -- the amount has not been decided -- means enterprises such as Driscoll's can get started on a small scale in a kitchen licensed for food processing without thousands of dollars in capital investment.
Driscoll estimates she'll get going with $5,000 in materials, website development and promotion.
The kitchen will include 10 work stations, dry and refrigerated storage space, a shipping and receiving dock, and a conference room. A combination of private investment and grants is covering the $440,000 cost of construction and equipment.
Driscoll said she expects the tenants to form a community.
"There will be other people like me bouncing ideas off each other," she said. "We'll be kindred souls, sharing information."
The building, once home to Alfaro Bakery and later to a tofu factory, also houses a distribution hub for organic crops produced by the nonprofit Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association. It also will have an outside station with a grease trap for food trucks to dump wastewater and refill reservoirs with clean water.
Reguerin said the project, which recently was a finalist in an international economic development competition, will create jobs, providing opportunity not just to the micro-entrepreneurs but to the people who will supply support services, such as packaging and delivery. He also expects many of the ventures to take advantage of locally grown crops to produce "made in Watsonville" items such as jams and baked goods.
Even before its opening, the kitchen gave Carmen Placencia a break. Designing the project was the young architect's first professional assignment after graduating from UC Berkeley in 2010. Placencia was born in Mexico, but raised in Watsonville.
"I always wanted to come back and help out my community," she said. "It will be really exciting to see people coming in."
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Work stations in licensed commercial kitchen available for rent on hourly basis
WHO: Aimed at micro-entrepreneurs; operated by nonprofit El Pajaro Community Development Corp.
WHERE: 412 Riverside Drive, Watsonville
WHEN: February opening
DETAILS: www.elpajarocdc.org or 831-722-1224
Most Popular Stories
- Bently Creates Alabama Small Business Commission
- When to Say No to Investors, Yes to Mentors
- Bolivar Appointed to NSHMBA National Board
- Duke Energy, Strata Partner on Big Solar Project
- SBA Kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month
- Rosneft Growth Slowed by Western Sanctions
- Ukraine Offers Temporary Autonomy to Rebel-held Areas
- Lindsay Lohan Claims She Handled Whitney Houston's Body Bag
- Cat Stevens Touring U.S., First Since 1970s
- Thousands Risk Losing Health Care Aid