FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Funders Support West End Culinary Incubator Expansion, Broaden Access to Food Industry Training for Entrepreneurs
LOUISVILLE, KY. (January 24, 2024) – West End culinary incubator Chef Space today announced the opening of a brand-new wing to the kitchen incubator, expanding access to kitchen space and training for 12 more entrepreneurs. The expansion was made possible by funding from Old National Bank Foundation, The Gheens Foundation, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Former Congressman John Yarmuth, representing Kentucky’s 3rd Congressional District, was instrumental in securing a large grant from the SBA under the Congressional Community Project fund. Congressman Morgan McGarvey now represents this district.
“Chef Space is an incubator where dreams hatch into thriving small businesses. As a member of the Small Business Committee, I am committed to supporting Louisville’s incredible entrepreneurs and small business owners – particularly in West Louisville,” said Rep. McGarvey. “Congratulations to Kevin Smith and everyone at Community Ventures, Tom Murro and the entire Chef Space team on launching this expansion. I want to particularly thank former Congressman John Yarmuth who secured $330,000 in Small Business Administration funding for this new space a few years ago, and it’s an honor to see this dream realized. I’m looking forward to working with our state and local partners to continue supporting these vital community initiatives.”
Since 2015, Chef Space has had a waiting list of entrepreneurs eager to access membership and kitchen services to launch their businesses. The new kitchen expansion allows 12 additional food industry entrepreneurs to launch or grow their culinary ventures.
“Chef Space is the product of partners, funders, and food industry entrepreneurs coming together to create economic opportunity in the West End and strengthen Louisville’s economy,” said Tom Murro, President of Chef Space. “We are incredibly grateful to our funders and partners and look forward to supporting many more entrepreneurs with this new kitchen expansion.”
Since it opened the 13,000-square-foot facility in 2015, Chef Space has created more than 400 jobs, helped entrepreneurs launch over 200 food-related ventures, and graduated 25 businesses to brick-and-mortar locations in Louisville.
“Chef Space and Community Ventures are some of our most valued partners, and we are proud to stand with them to support small, food-focused businesses in Louisville,” said Robert Coffey, District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration. “The culinary incubator has contributed to Louisville’s food culture, and we look forward to seeing how this expansion into consumer-packaged goods will launch even more entrepreneurs into this industry.”
At the grand opening on January 24, Kroger and Chef Space announced five recipients selected to receive part-time or full-time scholarships from Kroger for one year of membership and access to Chef Space. The part-time winners are Kento Kobayashi of Shoku Club LLC and Rico Vidal of Forkdive LLC. The full-time winners are Ben Deutsch of Retta’s Scoops and Finery, Margia Wiliams of Liqueur BonBons, and Eduardo Mendoza of Trina Hot Sauce.
“Kroger is honored to support diverse food entrepreneurship in West Louisville by launching a scholarship program in partnership with Chef Space,” said Jessica Sharp, Kroger Corporate Affairs Manager. “We hope these scholarships will allow local bakers and chefs with the assistance they need to grow their small business to new heights.”
In 2023, the Kroger Local Food Entrepreneur Scholarship Program donated $50,000 to help provide local food entrepreneurs with access to commercial-grade kitchens at Chef Space. Kroger will also provide merchandising training.
Culinary entrepreneurs benefit from training and access to a commercial kitchen thanks to the generous support of the following Chef Space partners: Community Foundation of Louisville, Winston Industries, Community Trust Bank, U.S. Small Business Association, Kentucky Bank, Eco Lab, NeighborWorks America, the Department of Health and Human Services, James Graham Brown Foundation, The Gheens Foundation, Stock Yards Bank and Trust, Wells Fargo Bank, Old National Bank Foundation, Kroger, Brown Forman Corporation, Humana Foundation, the U.S. Department of Treasury Community Development Financial Institution Fund and the New Market Tax Credit Program.
About Chef Space: Chef Space, supported by non-profit Community Ventures, is Louisville’s first kitchen incubator dedicated to assisting emerging food industry entrepreneurs with the space, expertise, and capital necessary to launch their ideas.
About Community Ventures: Founded in 1982 as a community-based, non-profit organization, Community Ventures (CV) strengthens communities and improves the overall quality of life for Kentuckians by supporting job creation, small business ownership, and home ownership. CV is headquartered in Lexington with branch locations in Bowling Green, Campbellsville, Louisville, Mayfield, Millersburg, and Owensboro. For 21 consecutive years, CV has been named Microlender of the Year by the Kentucky Small Business Administration.