Chef Space, Louisville’s first kitchen incubator, is celebrating it’s one year anniversary this month. Opened in November 2015, Chef Space was launched by the Kentucky nonprofit organization Community Ventures and has established itself as a hub for business incubation in the Russell neighborhood of West Louisville. Over the past year, Chef Space has seen five food entrepreneurs graduate into their own permanent locations and has seen 30+ expand into the Louisville markets.
“Chef Space has grown beyond our initial vision,” said Chris Lavenson, President of Chef Space. “Just in the first year, we’ve gone from 0-40+ first stage entrepreneurs, created 42 jobs, and this is just the beginning. Currently, we are working to find new ways to expand and improve those services which have helped so many.”
Over the last year, Chef Space has developed and implemented new initiatives to promote community engagement and involvement. This year, Chef Space launched Jay’s 120, a new food service station inside of the main facility that allows members to test out their fast-casual dining concepts without the risk of high equipment costs and long-term leases. Jay’s 120 allows members of the company to engage with the community and build business strategies through interactions with real customers.
“Chef Space is about engaging the neighborhood,” said Kevin Smith, CEO and President of Community Ventures. “We are creating a safe space where folks from all across the city can eat good food, build healthy businesses, and cultivate community.”
Chef Space is being considered more than a kitchen incubator—it’s a community center. With the Russell Food Hall, Chef Space is able to provide area residents and community members with a modern, sleek event space that has ample seating, warm lighting, large windows, and all-natural wood flooring. Chef Space has been host to numerous high-profile events over the year featuring representatives from the city government and various federal, state agencies, and private foundations.
“From the neighborhood to the city to the country, we’ve received positive feedback,” said Lavenson. “We plan to ride that momentum into 2017 and continue providing outstanding services to people of West Louisville.”
Learn more at: www.chefspace.org