Commercial rental kitchen creates community for emerging food brands.
So many of us took to our kitchens during the height of the pandemic, whether it was simply to cook a meal at home or finally master the art of the crusty boule. And when lockdown restrictions eased, there were more than a few hobbyists who realized they wanted to share their goods with the public.
Ashley Carmody allowed the pandemic to be her wake-up call to finally make a career out of doing what she loved—baking. Carmody started Sugar Butter Mpls and began selling her giant cookies at Twin Cities markets. The cookies were a hit, and before long, she needed more space than her home kitchen could offer.
Carmody went in search of a commercial rental kitchen, and she found MSP Kitchenery in Plymouth. “It was a match made in heaven,” Carmody says. “They’re there to build their business, but they’re also there to help build yours.”
MSP Kitchenery is the brainchild of Nikkolette Krumheuer of Nikkolette’s Macarons. There, she has created a community of makers, who not only share her kitchen space, but encourage and support each other as they pursue their passions.
“We want this to be a place where our tenants want to be,” Krumheuer says.
Filling a Need
Krumheuer has been in her tenants’ shoes. She spent nearly two decades in finance before giving up her day job for the French macaron. “I started the macarons on the side,” she says. “It kinda grew from there.”
Krumheuer initially rented space in a commercial kitchen that was operated by a catering company. For four years, she went in on nights and weekends to make her macarons. Then, fate stepped in.
“The caterer was retiring, and the building was up for sale,” Krumheuer explains. “I was looking for an opportunity to grow, so I decided to take the leap and buy the building.”
Krumheuer’s background as a financial analyst helped her understand the numbers she would need to make the business work. “I knew macarons alone wouldn’t be enough for this building,” she says. “But I also knew there were a lot of people like me.”
Krumheuer was aware that there was a lack of rental kitchens in the Twin Cities so, in 2019, she opened MSP Kitchenery in Plymouth. Last year, she opened a second, nearly identical, location on Dale Street in St. Paul.
Between the two buildings, there are currently 25 businesses that rent kitchen space from her. “We’re focused on makers with products,” she says. “No caterers and no food trucks.”
At any given time, there may be someone in the kitchen blending spices, baking cookies, frosting cakes or packaging pretzels. With four rentable zones, there is space for multiple operations to be happening simultaneously.
Tenants have 24-hour access to the building as long as they are on the schedule, making it ideal for the entrepreneur growing his/her business while still working a full-time job.
A Close-Knit Community
Last summer, Carmody rented space at MSP Kitchenery upwards of three times a week to make her oversized cookies—including her best-selling, half-pound OMG! Chocolate Chip Cookies—to sell at farmers markets in Plymouth, Richfield and Linden Hills, as well as local events, such as the Uptown Art Fair and James J. Hill Days. Even during the quieter winter months, Carmody still rents space at least once a week. “It’s been a game changer being at MSP Kitchenery,” she says.
The close-knit community of makers is always eager to share their experiences, good and bad, with one another. “It’s a good place to bounce ideas off of each other,” Krumheuer says, noting that they’ve exchanged notes on everything from the best markets to sell products at to packaging tips and tricks.
Krumheuer has carefully cultivated the group of makers at MSP Kitchenery. “We’re very picky on our people,” Krumheuer says. “We need to make sure it’s a good fit. We need people to be a little further along than just an idea.”
Krumheuer says that the ideal tenant is at least a year into his/her business with an established product, company name, logo, bank accounts, liability insurance, etc.
For those who make the cut, Krumheuer also offers a small storefront inside the kitchen. Though she originally intended it for pickups, it ended up being the perfect way to showcase the items made in the kitchen and provide a place for customers to pick up products outside of markets and events.
With two successful rental kitchens under her belt, Krumheuer is open to more. “There’s definitely opportunities to expand,” she says.
But for now, Krumheuer is content making macarons and helping others build their businesses while enjoying the maker community they’ve created at MSP Kitchenery. “Even though I work way more than I ever did in an office, it doesn’t feel like work,” Krumheuer says.
MSP Kitchenery Entrepreneurs
- Bobby’s Gourmet – Cookies
- Craft + Joy Graze Boards – Charcuterie and graze boards
- Eli’s Hot Rockin’ Cereal – Hot cereal
- Grandpa’s BBQ Shop – Barbecue sauce
- Here’s the Deal Spice Co. – Hand-blended spice mixes
- Honey Smitten – Honey
- Ink Sweets – Luxury cakes
- Maytown Foods – Specialty chili sauce
- MinneBun – Bao buns
- MINNEØATS – Oatmeal
- Minnesota Dairy Lab – Ice cream
- Nikkolette’s Macarons – Macarons
- No Milk – Coffee, cold brew and cookies
- Northeast Pretzels – Handmade soft pretzels
- Num Nuts – Maple rosemary mixed nuts, nut gravel and cocoa gravel
- P&TY Granola Co. – Granola
- Sjokolade – Fudge
- Sugar Butter Mpls – Cookies
- The Simple Gourmet – Spice mixes, sauces and overnight oats
- Toffee by Jane – Hand-rolled pecan toffee
- VIP Wellness Tea – Tea blends