Exploring Culinary Coworking Spaces

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There are coworking spaces and then there are culinary coworking spaces.

While the serviced office industry as a whole tries to accommodate the needs of all kinds of professionals, there’s no denying that some lines of work have very specific needs that require certain types of equipment, space, permits, and whatnot.

Such is the case of culinary coworking spaces. Though these type of workspaces have been around for a while, it wasn’t until lately that they began to pop up in different countries around the world. What’s even more interesting, is how some culinary coworking spaces cater to a particular market niche within the food industry to cater to. By this I mean that there are spaces that cater only to bakers, others to artisan food producers, others that are solely available to catering businesses…you get the idea.

To learn more about culinary workspaces, how they operate, and the need there is for them we spoke with Amélie Morency, founder of the Food Room in Montreal, and with Felicia Lee, Operational Manager of Butter & Bake in Singapore.

Though located in opposite sides of the world, both Butter & Bake and the Food Room were established when the founders were in need of a space that would accommodate their kitchen needs in order to grow their businesses.

I was running my business from home, but after a year of negotiation, I managed to access  a production kitchen. After a few months, the owner told me I couldn’t use the kitchen anymore. In that time, I had managed to increase her business revenue from 10k/year to 45 k/month. So, I was back to working from my own kitchen, meaning I didn’t have the equipment or the space to take on the major contracts to keep the revenue  high. –Amélie Morency

A few years ago I was running an online bakery business, and needed a kitchen where I could operate from. I found a few options, but none fit what I was looking for. It was at that point that I had an ideal kitchen sharing place in mind, and started to come up with ideas. -Felicia Lee 

Like any other coworking space, these workspaces work on a membership model and offer different price options. Although access to an industrial and fully equipped kitchen is the number one feature, both spaces offer other types of services to its members. The Food Room offers meeting rooms, non-kitchen workspace, event space, storage, and workshops. As for Butter & Bake, though they don’t offer office space or meeting rooms, they do offer advice and consulting services for members seeking to open their own restaurants or shops, as well as baking classes and sales opportunities.

The Food Room's kitchen space, view from top.

The Food Room’s kitchen space, view from top

As for the members themselves, both spaces have a different approach to selecting them. For Butter & Bake, Felicia says that, “we accept like-minded small producers and have a preference for bakery businesses, as that’s our focus.” For the Food Room, Amélie mentions how they accept small-producers and caterers, with no preference regarding their particular line of food business.

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    However different they might be in their selection process, both Felicia and Amélie emphasized that in order for a business to become a member of their spaces, they need to have the necessary permits to operate as well as count with hygiene and other relevant certificates required by law.

    Culinary workspaces aim to help small-producers and food oriented entrepreneurs grow, by helping them maintain low overhead costs. Plus, like in any other shared workspace environment, they are able to network and find different business or partnership opportunities than can lead to growth and success. For example, the Food Room, though it focuses on food producers it also accepts other types of businesses that are related to the food industry to use the available office space. Food packaging companies, food delivery, and the like can also greatly benefit from these spaces.

    Plenty of these spaces have opened up in different cities in the US and around the world, and we expect to see more pop up, as more and more people have a preference towards local producers and artisan food products.

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