UpStart Kitchen set to open in Sherman Park in August

Shared space aims to help food entrepreneurs get started

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:20 pm

UpStart Kitchen is set to open in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood this summer.

The shared 24-hour commercial kitchen space at 4325 W. Fond du Lac Ave. is aimed at helping entrepreneurs from low-wealth, underserved neighborhoods get started in the food and beverage sector. The organization also plans to offer additional resources to business owners, who will pay a low hourly rate to rent the 1,350-square-foot kitchen, plus coworking and storage space.

UpStart Kitchen has held several informational sessions for food entrepreneurs at Parklawn Assembly of God church, 3725 N. Sherman Blvd. The next two are scheduled for Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Tuesday, July 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. It is planning for an early August soft opening, followed by a grand opening in September.

In addition, UpStart Kitchen is seeking $50,000 in crowdfunding to continue its fundraising efforts. If it meets that goal, the We Raise Foundation will provide another $20,000 grant.

We Raise also last year gave a $50,000 grant to PRISM Economic Development Corp. to launch UpStart Kitchen. An initiative of the Parklawn, PRISM is a nonprofit that aims to foster economic development and provide services and opportunities to residents of Sherman Park. Its leaders came up with the idea for UpStart Kitchen in 2016 and began fundraising to make it a reality in 2017.

As of August 2018, PRISM had raised $200,000 in grants and donations, and planned to raise another $100,000 for the buildout and first year of operations. PRISM executive director Tom Keppeler declined to give an update on that goal.

About 30 entrepreneurs have expressed interest already in becoming member-clients, Keppeler said. The goal is to have about 25 to 30 entrepreneurs using the kitchen per month when it reaches full capacity.

“Some of those might be seasonal clients, others would be more hours per week or per month,” he said. “We’re hoping for at least 15 solid (entrepreneurs) in our first cohort.”

UpStart will provide individualized mentorship and training in cooperation with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.

“There’s not really set programming because each entrepreneur’s so different,” Keppeler said. “But there’s a very deliberate process so we know where they’re at.”

Entrepreneurs will pay rent on a sliding scale based on where they live, starting at $14 per hour, he said. The program will prioritize entrepreneurs in five or six underserved zip codes.

“If you’re coming from the suburbs, you’re going to pay more,” Keppeler said. “We really want to focus on city entrepreneurs who are in these areas.”

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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