Hope & Main and the Business of Food
A Culinary Business Incubator in a Historic Schoolhouse in Warren Opens Its Doors for the Next Generation of Local Entrepreneurs
It takes more than a good idea and a great recipe to get a food-based business off the ground. You need access to a commercial-grade kitchen, countless appliances, a business plan, legal advice, financial know-how and of course, it helps to have a supportive community behind you.
Hope & Main, a culinary business incubator, offers all of that and more to local entrepreneurs looking to launch food-based businesses. It is the first of its kind in Rhode Island and has already proven to be an invaluable resource for the next generation of makers and bakers.
Housed within a 100-year-old schoolhouse on Warren’s historic Main Street, the 17,500-square-foot space underwent $3.2 million in renovations. The space now boasts a commercial kitchen, demonstration kitchen, workshop space and, come spring, Edible Schoolyard garden. The greatest challenge the nonprofit has faced thus far is ensuring their facility offers the right configuration of equipment to serve such a wide range of businesses.
“When you are trying to create a place to manufacture a wide variety of products, you have to get creative,” says Lisa Raiola, founder and president.
The Rhode Island Foundation recently granted Hope & Main funding to bring together the High Impact Practices for Small Food Start-Ups panel, a group of experts who can offer advice on subjects ranging from scaling, automation and recipe development to marketing and licensing.
What Lisa couldn’t have predicted, back when the food business incubator was just a twinkle in her eye, was how it would become a brand in and of itself, a brand synonymous with local food and local jobs.
“Hope & Main become a brand because people believed in us early on,” Lisa says. “The idea became a brand and that brand is part of the platform that is supporting and promoting these businesses. I can’t even begin to put a value on that.”
Here are three profiles from Hope & Main’s first crop of food businesses:
To learn how you can donate, volunteer, attend an educational workshop, head to the farmers’ market or inquire about starting your own food business, visit the website at Hope & Main, MakeFoodYourBusiness.org.