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It is not easy to spot Arkitchen, the sharable commercial kitchen tucked behind a retail strip off Markham Street in the heart of Little Rock. Look for a door with a small sign and key-pad entry. Once inside the culinary speakeasy, a hidden society of cooks and bakers is revealed. The place is an absolute gem, especially if you are a food entrepreneur looking to start a business with low overhead. The 5000-square foot kitchen gives small-business owners the opportunity to rent, instead of buying into their own brick-and-mortar, which typically comes at a steep cost.
“Our standard term is six months. However, longer terms can be negotiated with a discount to rent. Half-year terms allow businesses to operate at very low risk, and provide an amount of versatility and mobility,” says owner/operator Jon Lamb.
Lamb logged 25 years in the food service industry in positions as a chef, server, and bartender, which all led to a desire to open his own catering service. But after realizing the costs of building out a fully licensed kitchen, Lamb saw how many businesses got stopped in their tracks before even making it out of the gate. In 2017, his dream of starting a commercial, shareable kitchen became a reality.
Three years in, Arkitchen has several “graduates” or small businesses that have gone on to have their own kitchen. These include: Teaberry Kombucha, Keto Brick, Read The Labl, Guenther Apiary, Mojo Sushi, and Aunt Bea’s Salsa. Twenty current tenants call Arkitchen home, including AraLea’s, a catering company I got to see hard at work during my kitchen tour.
It is an impressive space, an open concept with half for baking needs and half for cooking. There is even a special room for miscellaneous culinary activities like chocolate making. Today, Carmen from Cocoa Belle Chocolates is working away at her craft. Ovens, refrigerators, mixers, knives, and just about everything associated with a commercial kitchen is all around. There is plenty of room to navigate. The facility is clean and orderly, but busy with four tenants in their own world, working with a definite confidence and calmness. It was fun to watch. Jon Lamb is busy in his office, overseeing the entire operation.
“Seeing the passion in our entrepreneurs as they push every day to make their products and make their marks on our local food system is so rewarding.”
Talking to Lamb, it is easy to feel his enthusiasm behind his business and how much he believes in what he is doing.
“Besides the great hourly rates, our community hive of entrepreneurs may be the best thing about Arkitchen.”
Cheers to that!
Did You Know?
Current tenants or “anchors” include: Black Swan Catering, Bananaleaf, Martha’s Bon Appetit Catering, Arkansas Gourmet Rice Company, The House of Mental, Delta Biscuit Co., Not Just Cakes, Little’s This N’at, Kathryn Kountry Kitchen & Katering, The Great Feast, Crave Fuel, RSVP Catering, Spud’s Edible Eye, Sweets in a Jar, Cocoa Belle Chocolates, Olive U Eats, AraLea’s Kitchen, Bella’s Kitchen, Gifted Gourmet, The Croissanterie, Cinnalightful
Arkitchen Commercial Kitchen
9813 West Markham, Suite B (Little Rock)
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