October 1, 2014

New Businesses in Florida

What were these small businesses thinking?

Amid one of the nation's worst recessions, these entrepreneurs forged ahead.

Mike Vogel | 1/30/2012

Cindy Pickering
Your Pro Kitchen, Largo (Pinellas County)
Startup costs: $70,000

Cooking Up a Business

Cindy Pickering
Cindy Pickering's Your Pro Kitchen provides commercial kitchen rentals for food service entrepreneurs.[Photo: Mark Wemple]
In 2008, as the recession bore down, Cindy Pickering saw many unemployed food business workers — both veterans and novices alike — attempting to launch catering and prepared food-supply operations. Meanwhile, those still in business were struggling with the costs of operating their own kitchens. Pickering turned those market conditions to her advantage and launched a commercial kitchen rental company that provides shared kitchen space for the other entrepreneurs to prepare their foods.

Pickering had learned how to run a small food business when she launched a salsa business in 2003. "You can't do it out of your house. You need to be in a certified commercial kitchen," she says.

Pickering used $70,000 of the proceeds from the sale of the salsa business to launch her shared kitchen concept. Today, more than 50 customers — including pastry chefs, caterers and food truck operators — work out of her 3,500-sq.-ft. facility, which has already expanded. Tenants sign a minimum six-month lease and agree to use the facilities for at least eight hours each month, which costs $125. Dry storage space is also available for $25 per month. Michael and Doris Leonardo turned to Your Pro Kitchen to save their 20-year-old catering company when they could no longer afford to pay the rent on their Dunedin storefront. "It was meant to be," says Michael Leonardo.

Tags: Florida Small Business

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