STL Foodworks provides commercial kitchen space, advice and more to startups, ghost kitchens and beyond
STL Foodworks opened in November 2019 as a culinary incubator aimed at bolstering your business, whether you’re just getting started and don’t even have a business license yet or you have a seasoned company that simply needs extra space to get the job done.
Located at 408 N. Sarah St. in the Central West End, the space offers two shared commercial kitchens – one with three workstations and another with two – as well as two private kitchens all available for rent by the hour, allowing for up to seven companies or individuals to be working at any given time. Each station is stocked with commercial-grade equipment, from a 20-quart mixer and full-range convection oven to prep tables and sinks, refrigeration and more.
Ideal for startups, STL Foodworks can help you establish a business license, figure out food liability insurance and even get a ServSafe certification. “We help with the groundwork at the beginning, then start helping with research and development,” said general manager Daniel Movitz. “After we help establish a step-by-step growth plan, we can also schedule some pop-ups to see how people are receiving the food.” Currently, businesses secure preorders through their own websites and deliver the food curbside to customers.
“Bold Spoon Creamery, which has all locally sourced flavors, has been amazing,” Movitz said, adding it’s available at Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. “They started with us last May, and we have seen them just take off. Their original business plan was to sell their ice cream wholesale to restaurants, but they had to pivot because of the pandemic and are now successful at farmers markets and in retail at places like Schnucks.”
Anderson & Son Pepper Co. founder Joel Anderson sought out STL Foodworks when he decided to turn his passion into a business. “He has a whole garden of peppers and needed a commercial facility to cook and bottle his hot sauce,” Movitz said. “He started with us last year, and he’s in every month or so making a big batch to sell bottles online.”
Shorty Mix Gourmet Cookies just launched and will be available when Tower Grove Farmers’ Market debuts for the season on Saturday, April 10. “They have been inspired by world travels, so the cookie recipes really show that,” Movitz said, adding there are flavors like Texas jalepeno-lime, Moroccan snickerdoodle, Mexican churro chip and more.
Although STL Foodworks is the perfect place to launch a startup, it’s also a great option for busy kitchens that find it hard to keep up with demand. “Some brick-and-mortars are so busy they have to stop doing deliveries because they can’t keep up, so we offer an amazing ghost kitchen opportunity where you can send down a few chefs to work on delivery-only orders during peak times so the people at the brick-and-mortar can focus on things running smoothly there,” Movitz said.
The incubator serves a diverse clientele 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The application fee is $50, and there’s also a $300 refundable deposit. Hourly rates start at about $35 an hour, and scheduling is done via an online portal. “When you sign on as a member, you get your own security code and can set up at 4 a.m. if you want to get some baking done before sun rises,” Movitz explained.
Co-founded by Charlie and Christy Schlafly and Ford Hotel Supply, STL Foodworks has many connections for those seeking help with kitchen design, commercial equipment and scaling a business. “Ford’s desire to cultivate the local food scene and be a resource for local businesses is evident in the way they help our entrepreneurs,” Movitz said.
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