When Jesse McBride started his meal delivery business mothers almost five years ago, kitchen space was one of the biggest challenges. He went through various commercial kitchens, but there were “always a few exchanges.” One of them, called an object once prominent in Brooklyn Pilotwork, even one day closed out of the blue, leaving hundreds of operators, including Jesse, trying to find new places to cook. After some trial and error, he is now housed in the Hudson Kitchen, a food incubator located in Kearny. “There are many pros. Cleansely clean and maintained. And you learn from other entrepreneurs, “Jesse told Hoboken girl. Read on to learn more about Kearny-based Hudson Kitchen.
How It Started
Even before the pandemic, demand for home-cooked meals was on the rise. Not only that, meal deliveries were gaining popularity as well flexible hours became a common gain at work, delicious food and snacks as well without a tremendous increase. Djenaba Johnson-Jones, founder of the Hudson Kitchen, recalled running training events for direct-to-consume food brands in 2015. “It was just in place,” she recalls.
Djenaba has a background in digital marketing and entered the food industry by accident. She was fired from the magazine in 2014 and had asked for kitchen space for a fitness conceived business.
Options were limited – chefs could rent restaurant kitchens after hours or register in one of North Jersey’s commercial kitchens, which are few and far between. “I thought, this does not make sense. “So I started talking to other people and I realized there was a great need,” Djenaba said.
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In the years that followed, Djenaba worked with many food entrepreneurs to grow their brands. Meanwhile, she started looking for a storage space to build her kitchen. After some hard searching, she found the current space, an “empty box” in an expansive industrial park. Djenaba spent nine months working with a kitchen stylist and an architect to build the facility according to its specifications.
“I thought, if I were to work in this country, what would I need,” Djenaba said. In addition to the main kitchen facilities, the Hudson Kitchen also offers a co-working area with a shower, a multi-purpose room for flexible tasks such as packing and meetings, and dedicated food truck parking.
The biggest difference, or innovation, from a traditional commercial kitchen is in the tariff model. Instead of charging for hours with a minimum booking requirement, members pay a flat amount and get unlimited access to the facility. “If you want to be here at 2am because you just want to do your job, yes, you can go inside.” There are different membership levels to suit the needs of each business owner: entrepreneur, food truck and moonlight.
A look at the kitchen
Hoboken girl visited the Hudson Kitchen recently. The space has been remodeled from an industrial warehouse and is now sleek and stylish.
At the heart of the building is the kitchen, which is all sound and movement. Groups of chefs gather at different workstations and the atmosphere resembles more of a collaboration space than a assembly line. Kitchen space and appliances are managed efficiently: members who reserve certain time places for kitchen parts.
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Different teams share the same equipment if they need it at the same time, which allows for more flexibility and efficiency. “You can have something in one part of the stove and I can have something in the other … If you are making cookies at 350, I can open something else in the oven and we will be together,” Djenaba explained.
A collaborative environment
Food business owners have told Hoboken Girl that the collaborative environment provided by Hudson Kitchen is beneficial. “Having a community of people is really important, we meet that need,” Djenaba said.
“You can go to another business owner and ask questions. Have you experienced this? Where do you get your packages? Product collaborations also become easier. Falafels in ladies boxes, for example, are made from Fabalisht, another brand that works on the same floor.
The pandemic has spurred growth in the food market directly to the consumer. With more time, many people have turned cooking from a hobby into a serious business. Others have decided to start their own food brands. “People are starting more than before,” Djenaba noted.
“We have businesses here …[that] “It did not exist a year ago and they are doing wonderfully well.” To meet demand, Hudson Kitchen is in the process of reopening various start-up camps and acceleration programs to help new businesses start.
For Djenaba, however, running a food (related) business has also reshaped its relationship with food, in an unexpected way. When asked about it, she burst out laughing. “It simply came to our notice then. I cook at home. I do not cook anymore. Just order from my clients! ”
Stay up to date with Hudson Kitchen via Instagram at @thehudsonkitchen.