PASCO COUNTY, Fla. — The UF/IFAS Pasco Extension marked the opening of its new East Pasco Incubator Kitchen Monday.

  • Kitchen will help restaurant entrepreneurs 
  • Commercial-grade equipment was donated by Welbilt
  • For more information, call the Pasco extension at (352) 518-0156
  • More Pasco County headlines

“It is unique. It’s kind of the culmination of probably about five years of vision and work and development of partnerships,” said Pasco Extension Director Whitney Elmore.

The kitchen is located in the extension’s One Stop Shop on 14th Street.

Commercial-grade equipment was donated by Welbilt, and there’s a classroom space where workshops will be offered. Anyone from the community will be able to use the space, but it’s expected to be especially helpful for people interested in starting a food-related business.

“When a food entrepreneur wants to start a business, there are a lot of barriers to entry: regulations, money, not knowing what to do next,” said Daniel Mitchell, manager of the Pasco Economic Development Council’s Smart Start Program.

Mitchell said about 25 percent of the entrepreneurs the EDC works with are trying to launch a food business. On top of having food and agriculture experts from the Pasco extension on hand to offer guidance on everything from growing food to processing and packaging it safely, Smart Start resources will be available to teach those business basics and point people toward resources.

Both Mitchell and Elmore said the space could help small businesses reach that next level.

“This is a commercial kitchen space,” said Elmore. “We worked with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences. We’ve worked with food safety experts at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to make sure that this space is the optimal area for them to be able to bring in foods, process them safely, and we can also be walking them through those phases.”

“After you take out your time and product, you wind up with almost no profit,” Mitchell said of laws that limit sales of food produced in homes. “So, having a commercial kitchen and an incubator allows people to take that next step, grow out of their kitchen, and actually have a space.”

For more information on how to utilize the incubator kitchen or upcoming classes and workshops, call the Pasco extension at (352) 518-0156.