Uptown Kitchen

Food-preneurs Get a Kitchen

Her idea stemming from a business class at Calvin College, Kelly LeCoy soon acquired the seed capital needed to create a kitchen facility that helps food inspired entrepreneurs create their own culinary venture.

The National Restaurant Association estimates that roughly two-thirds of each dollar earned is allocated to food, beverages and labor for a restaurant. This figure does not include cost of facilities, equipment or the learning-curve needed to meet regulatory standards.

Kelly’s business, Uptown Kitchen, which derives its name from the Eastown neighborhood in Grand Rapids, aims to cut those initial financial and learning costs for the budding food-preneur. The business helps early stage entrepreneurs start their own restaurant or catering company, without the need to raise substantial startup capital. “Besides the financial costs of an industrial kitchen, I learned that you can’t do everything- and you shouldn’t do everything,” Kelly said in response to the help she has received from her professor and business leaders. Uptown Kitchen also plans to incubate those individuals that need experience operating a food business.

Having gone to a pop-up restaurant in Chicago’s thriving culinary scene, a temporary restaurant where young chefs can get exposure without the need for their own facility, Kelly recognized the model as a way to cut costs for emerging culinary talent locally. She thought the business model would be ideal for a place like Grand Rapids, and so, Uptown Kitchen was born.

LeCoy bridged her time in Chicago, working for Rogers Park Business Alliance, and brought RPBA’s artistic approach to business back to Grand Rapids. She worked with small businesses that connected her with neighborhood organizations and the local economy; which propelled her to base her business in Eastown.

After winning the 5×5 event, where five contestants vie for a chance at $5,000 for the best presentation and idea, she took the money and went to work. “After winning the competition, things became real,” Kelly continued, “I knew I would own my own business, but not this quickly.”

Uptown Kitchen is expected to open this October.

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