Scott Korvek and Josue Santiago Negron say the former Peter James BYOB space on the White Horse Pike will function as a shared kitchen space for those growing their food-based businesses.
By Matt Skoufalos | May 24, 2021
But in the coming months, a new shared space from the Collingswood couple behind Dulce Artisanal Pastry might offer some opportunities for the smallest among them to rebound and grow.
For Scott Korvek and Josue Santiago Negron, it all started with a search for additional kitchen space to support the operations at Dulce.
When the former Silver Spoon/Peter James BYOB property came on the market, it was a can’t-miss opportunity.
Instead of simply purchasing a commissary for Santiago-Negron to use alone, they decided to create a shared space that could help offset the costs of managing the additional building. In doing so, the idea for Haddon Kitchen Incubator was born.
“Josue needs space; we’ve known that for a while,” said Korvek. “There’s no point in buying a kitchen just for him. The model was developed after that.”
The building is expansive, with a two-bedroom residential apartment upstairs and a smaller space (formerly a dining room) that can be subdivided to house a separate retail tenant.
Beyond that, Haddon Kitchen Incubator features a walk-in refrigeration unit, a considerably sized kitchen, a first-floor storage area, and secondary space that could function as a dish pit or additional prep area. The front-of-house dining room could serve as a future banquet or demonstration area.
Although the business model is in its preliminary stages, Korvek said tenants will be fully vetted and under contract before they come into the space.
“There will be a handbook, rental agreements; a model that people can approach us with depending on what they need,” he said.
“Reserve time, pay for that time, use the space, treat it nicely.”
Korvek is positive, however, that the space will not function as a “cloud kitchen,” or virtual restaurant, a term that describes delivery-only businesses operating out of a shared commissary.
“This is not someone serving GrubHub out the back door,” he said.
“This is a true commercial kitchen for those who need that space.”
The project isn’t on any particular timeline, Korvek said, and its completion won’t change how Dulce handles its Collingswood storefront.
However, the Haddon Township location could function like a business incubator as well as a commissary kitchen, with potential events, networking opportunities, and more as it evolves.
“There will be things in here on a regular basis in the future,” Korvek said. “We’ll probably do some business consulting as well.
“There’s always things to be done,” he said, “but we’re going to do it right.”
‘I want to create a new view about what food is’
For Santiago Negron, developing an additional kitchen space feels like a benchmark he describes simply as “achievement.”
“That would be the proper word for it,” Santiago Negron said.
“Five years ago, I was [working] by myself, and now I have to get more space and more people for it.”
The additional space will help him to retail additional products, procure equipment to automate some of his processes, and increase the overall volume of the goods he sells.
Santiago Negron anticipates making use of the additional refrigeration space in Haddon Township, as well as offering special tasting events to showcase his baked goods alongside various beverage pairings.
Some of the less tangible, long-term benefits of creating a kitchen incubator also include supporting the cottage industry of home-based businesses that bubble up to area farmers markets and food trucks, and, eventually, to brick-and-mortar retail locations.
By sharing some of the costs of licensing and inspections as well as the expenses of accessing industrial kitchen equipment, the commissary can make it more affordable for entrepreneurs to see if their business models are workable in the real world.
As the collective culture of the building emerges, it also can foster greater collaboration across business entities, and create opportunities for those in the food industry to share their knowledge and skill-build.
“I also want to create a different or a new view about what food is,” Santiago Negron said; “working with people who have a passion for food, not just for a job.
“When the pandemic happened, a lot of people started selling food on the side because they didn’t have something to do,” he said.
“Now that the pandemic is going down sooner than later, the food industry is coming up,” Santiago Negron said.
“It just needs a little bit of help and space to create those businesses.”
Importantly, Santiago Negron believes that Haddon Kitchen Incubator can offer more opportunities for ethnic and racial minorities to succeed than they might have found in a traditional restaurant setting.
“In Philly, I was never given the chance to do more in the companies I was in,” he said. “If I get a café and a commercial kitchen, I can share it with other people.
“And mostly, too, I need the space,” he said.
Please support NJ Pen with a subscription. Get e-mails, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or try our Direct Dispatch text alerts.