With its Market 707 a huge success, Scadding Court Community Centre has cooked up a new use for shipping containers.
Years after the market saw a variety of vendors set up shop along Dundas Street West in used shipping containers, Scadding Court recently opened its own commercial kitchen to give entrepreneurial cooks, bakers, and catering companies a place to prepare their goodies.
“The way it was designed was to provide someone who currently runs a small food business in their kitchen way up in their apartment tower with a chance to work in a bigger space with all the bells and whistles,” said Scadding Court interim executive director Herman Ellis. “We give them a safe space where they can be more productive because they have more room to work with, and then we teach them how to market their product.”
The commercial kitchen costs as little as $10 per hour to rent – far less than most commercial kitchen spaces – and the proceeds go back into Scadding’s community programs.
Though still a relatively new amenity, the commercial kitchen is already booked to roughly 70 per cent of capacity. Ellis said he hopes to bring that number higher as word begins to spread about it.
“Having it booked about 85 per cent of the time would be ideal,” he said.
The kitchen includes two deep fryers (one for meat products and one for vegetarian products), a convection oven, four-burner stovetop, conventional deep oven, griddle, walk-in cooler, deep freeze, dishwasher, stainless steel tables, and plenty of pots, pans, mixing bowls, and other wares.
Everyone from fledgling caterers looking to start up a business to established food makers have rented out the space, and true to Scadding Court’s community-based roots, those who have used the commercial kitchen have taken a sense of ownership over it.
“We’ve had people who have come in and loved it and said they want to do what they can to help make it as good as it can be,” Ellis said. “They don’t look at it as a landlord renting space to a tenant. They want to contribute to the community, participate in our special events and use this as a way to do a greater good.”
Some have even volunteered their time to help make the space more functional. Despite its large size – for a shipping container, at least – the kitchen could still make for a tight squeeze for operations with more than three or four people, but with all the amenities and its low cost, it’s hard to imagine a better way for a start-up business to take flight.
Chef Deon King of King Catering said the kitchen’s price point is a major draw, but pointed to a number of other benefits as well.
“They have everything you need, with top of the line equipment,” he said. “For small orders especially, it’s perfect.”
King Catering provides Caribbean-based meals with a North American twist, delivering largely to businesses downtown, which adds to Scadding Court’s appeal.
“It’s a convenient location to get to the customers, and they’re very flexible when it comes to time, so you don’t have to book months in advance,” King said.
For more information on Scadding Court Community Centre’s commercial kitchen, including how to rent the space, visit www.scaddingcourt.org/commercial_kitchen or call 416-392-0335, ext. 233.