Lakeview Kitchen & Market, founded and operated by Wendy Grahn and Maggie O’Brien, a mother and daughter team, is a fully equipped commercial shared kitchen in a 5,000 sq. ft. facility located at 3109. N. Broadway in Chicago’s vibrant Lakeview East neighborhood.
Some kids sculpt with playdoh, others with clay. My daughter Maggie used to sculpt mashed potatoes. That led to mosaics made from candy followed by buttercream frosting painting. Gradually the love for art turned into a love for baking. But starting up a new bakery is a scary idea. A brick and mortar building complete with a professionally equipped kitchen is an expensive start up business. Walking down Broadway one day, the “For Lease” sign in the window at the old House of Fine Chocolates jumped out at us. From the window on the sidewalk it looked like a small retail shop, but from our first tour through the 5,000 sq. ft. space, it quickly became clear this could be an awesome commercial kitchen. That’s how Lakeview Kitchen & Market came to be.
We took over this space and created a 5,000 sq. ft. commercial shared kitchen, fully equipped with a Doyon convection oven with 40 racks, a 10 burner stove, a fryer, walk-in refrigerators and freezer, butcher block and stainless steel tables, Robot Coupes, Kitchen-Aids, sheet pans, racks, bowls, whisks and the list goes on and on. Everything in the kitchen is available for clients to use. The “Market” part of Lakeview Kitchen and Market is our retail space we offer as a venue for clients to sell their products. On any given day, customers can come into the market and purchase a broad variety of items, depending on which kitchen clients have been working that day. It could be baked goods, soup, granola, jam, pickles, salsa, hot sauce, pie crusts, dog treats, chutney or salad dressing, just to name a few. The Market provides an opportunity to purchase a wide array of fresh and delicious items.
Lakeview Kitchen & Market, available to rent by the hour, week or month, already has a strong lineup of small businesses utilizing the space. Being a small business, working with other small businesses takes a lot of effort and collaboration. It also takes a lot of money. As with any new business, there are expenses we didn’t anticipate. The build out of the space, of course, turned up unexpected things that needed to be fixed. Part of the attraction to the space was the existence of 2 walk-in refrigerators and a sizable walk-in freezer. What wasn’t anticipated was the cost to keep them running properly. Because every clients product has to be protected, if a refrigerator breaks down, it has to be repaired right away. And of course, it generally breaks down after hours or on the weekends when it’s more expensive to repair. But more important than kitchen maintenance – we want to grow this business. Most commercial kitchens are in industrial parks off the beaten path and therefore their expenses are considerably lower. This space was chosen specifically because it’s directly on the beaten path, in an amazing location where the community supports local business and thrives on a wonderfully diverse product line. The Market part of Lakeview Kitchen and Market is the advantage we provide our Kitchen clients. They get access to a brick and mortar shop without having to make the investment themselves. When you shop in the Market, you know anything you buy here, was made here. It’s all small batch production, with a lot of local sourcing as well. If a customer buys more than one thing, it’s likely that customer supported more than one small business, including the Kitchen.
With the money we raise in this campaign, we’d like to add a sink and a coffee station to our retail space. We’d like to update our façade and get the holes out of the bricks from where the old signs were removed. We’d also like to ensure the refrigerators keep running. We’d like to do more marketing and advertising to attract more kitchen clients. We‘d like to buy more equipment and supplies to run more cooking and baking classes and we’d like to update the retail space to be able to better promote the products we sell. This is just the beginning of our wish list. With a lot of hard work and your help, we pledge to continue working for small business. Working with people following their passion has only ignited our desire and drive to do the same.