The first stop on our Behind the Scenes NYC Tour of Harlem’s Incubators and Development Sites with NYCEDC last week was at Hot Bread Kitchen and HBK Incubates, located inside La Marqueta. When you think of workforce inequality, the artisanal food industry is probably not the first example that comes to mind. But Hot Bread Kitchen founder Jessamyn Rodriguez saw opportunity there for immigrant women to distinguish themselves, and started Hot Bread Kitchen first out of her own kitchen in 2009. The non-profit has grown to host not only the kitchen itself but HBK Incubates, which has been home to 45 start-up food companies owned by minority entrepreneurs.
Hot Bread Kitchen has trained 96 women bakers since opening and graduated 40. It has been located in La Marqueta since 2010, with a stop in Long Island City before that. The project is 70% funded by the bread that’s produced, which is sold to retailers like Whole Foods and Dean & Deluca. Additional income comes from renting out the kitchen and sales of the book, The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World. The program has a 100% placement track record for graduates, who go into management track positions.
One of HBK Incubates’ kitchens
In 2011, Hot Bread Kitchen opened HBK Incubates, expanding to an additional 1,600 square feet in La Marqueta, in partnership with NYCEDC. Currently, the shared workspace can accommodate more than 40 startups but it’s not yet at full capacity–a deliberate move so they can adapt to trends, we learned. The food companies, all in their first two to three years in business, have access to the facilities, which include two production kitchens, two prep kitchens, a chocolate kitchen, a specialty production space and dough room, as well as dry and cold storage facilities.
More than just access to equipment, HBK Incubates also provides technical assistance and business advice. There’s also no time-limit for companies in the incubator a program, a luxury for startups. HBK Incubates is the only food incubator in New York City that gives priority to minority applicants, part of Rodriguez’s plan to grow “a new vision for the city’s diverse food culture.”
Cold storage area of HBK Incubates
What HBK Incubates is most proud of is the breadth of businesses incubated here–from Tipsy Scoop, an alcohol-infused ice cream company to Little Boo Boo Bakery, an all-natural gourmet marshmallow company. The startups even get to display at the HBK booth at the Fancy Food Show. Pipsnacks, a popcorn company was featured on the popular television show Shark Tank.
We began and ended this portion of the Untapped Cities x NYCEDC Behind the Scenes tour with bread baked by Hot Bread Kitchen, and headed on over into the newly renovated Corn Exchange Building.
Join us for an upcoming Untapped Cities tour.