‘Kitchen’ cooks up business

Published 5:06 pm Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leader photo/KATIE ROHMAN Lisa Croteau, Niles DDA Main Street program manager, gives Cassopolis resident Cyndi Staton a tour of the kitchen incubator at 219 N. Fourth St., Niles, on July 12.

When Cyndi Staton found her homemade relish, hot sauce and salsa were a hit with her family and friends, she saw a business opportunity that went beyond the occasional sale from her home.
Staton, along with her fiance, Eddie Pawlowski, of Cassopolis, want to learn how a business works before taking the leap.
“We’ve sold some of our goods, but we want to do it the right way,” she said.
Staton was one of about eight people who took the first public tour of the kitchen incubator, 219 N. Fourth St., Niles, on Thursday.
Part of Niles Main Street’s Niles Entrepreneurial and Culinary Incubator (NECI), the commercial kitchen has been a passion for Lisa Croteau, NMS program manager.
Croteau and representatives of St. Joseph’s Cornerstone Alliance, which offers classes, were on hand for the public to take tours and learn about what it takes to start a business.
NECI offers business planning and food production assistance; a shared-use, licensed commercial kitchen; office and conference room space; and support in creating marking plans.
NECI markets the kitchen as ideal for farmers looking to develop value-added products; restaurant owners interested in producing dressings or sauces for retail; and bakers and cooks.
The steps include submitting an application; attendance at SCORE business start-up classes; a meeting between the kitchen manager and client; licensing and insurance; ServSafe certification; and kitchen usage scheduling.
“This is a package deal,” Croteau said. “We want people to have the very best chance” of succeeding.
Croteau, who said about four people are seriously considering applying to use the incubator, was satisfied with the turnout Thursday.
Applications are still being taken for NECI, with no maximum number of users because each cook will have a different purpose.
“It depends on how much they make and when they make it,” Croteau said.
Tours are still available today: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m.
For more information, call 687-4332; email info@uncoverniles.com; or visit uncoverniles.com.