This post has been in the planning for a long time.
For the past 2 years I have created deliciousness from a rented commercial kitchen. It was not easy and I lacked my own creative space. In December I decided, with the full support of my wonderful husband, that I will build my own commercial kitchen.
It sounded like a serious project, but truthfully, I had no idea what I got into. Between my dream of having a space to create, invent, bake, stir, and spice, and the rules and regulations of the city and state, it became a huge project very fast.
I do understand the need to be strict when it comes to making food for people, their health is above it all. But, what I thought would be a relatively small, intimate project, turned out to be big, long and complex and I am very fortunate to have been surrounded by so many helpful and supporting people during these past 8 month leading up to a beautiful space, with 5 (FIVE!!!) sinks, a 12 foot hood, double sheet rock on the ceiling and fire-proof door….
I decided that a journey of this size and complexity, you do not do ALONE. I found some truly wonderful people who helped in every step of the way.
First of all I found a great contractor. Mike Derby. He is an independent contractor who has never build a commercial kitchen. He was dedicated to the learning process as we went out on this journey together. I gave him my dream kitchen on a power point slide, and he turned it into a real design for the town zoning department. He started in January and worked for month on all that was needed. The town inspector became a regular visitor, and he was always impressed by the quality of work. He was also helpful in making sure we understand all that is needed.
Next came equipment. Here a close friend (thank you Gigi!!) recommended Vince Puleo from Trumansburg. I really planned on buying everything from him, but he did all the research for me, and recommended where to buy things that would be cheaper and of great quality. I could not believe it at first, but soon learned that Vince really just wanted to help me.
Every stage had many challenges. Putting a grease trap was an unexpected item that I never even knew existed. The biggest challenge was probably hanging the 12 foot hood. Only the few and the chosen are qualified to connect hoods and besides being very expensive, it was hard to find a great fit. Until I was introduced to Bob and Bob from Bob’s Services. Yes! 2 Bobs came to my rescue and they were an amazing addition to my ever-expanding team. They measured, re-measured, calculated and re-calculated, drew up the plan and constantly encouraged me it can all be done. And indeed they made it happen. They worked hard getting it up and connected in my small space. They did it always with reassurance, smiles and patience. They even came to help when my big ovens were delivered and hooked them up as well.
There are many more people who made these past 8 month worth every challenging day. Kellyann O’mara from M&T bank who helped me get my business loan, wonderful Mike Driscoll from the SBA (Small Business Administration) who helped me with my business plan and bank loan, and my BNI members who believed in me, were happy for me, laughed at my stories and gave me advice as needed.
My family love the idea of our own commercial kitchen, they were involved every step and excited for every part being done. My parents visited this summer and helped set up shelves, organize, my dad found himself digging a huge square outside for the hood, and they were very proud of the process. I really can not imagine doing this without all the support around me.
After we had done it all, the entrance was left to sheet rock, paint and finish up. My 3 kids and husband rolled up their sleeves and it became a family project. It is not as perfect as Mike Derby’s work, our strokes are not as smooth, but it is gorgeous to me.
Now the town has approved it all, the city water gave their OK, and my Agriculture Market inspector gave his thumbs up (he was VERY impressed I must say!). Thank You Michael Wolff!
Watch 8 month of work HERE in 2 minutes…..
Now Ba-Li Cravings is officially up and running, and we are getting busy. Lunches at Cornell and events all over Ithaca, Sweet desserts to Ithaca College, Cornell and wonderful people around, Gluten free food and a lot of Mediterranean food being made to make people happy and return. We have stocked up on spices, bought a lot of plastic trays and many pounds of dry hummus, couscous and flour. I am excited to be working out of my own space and continue to create and develop recipes.
Ba-Li Cravings have been chosen to make some of the desserts for Cornell’s Inaugural Picnic welcoming the first female President of Cornell, Elizabeth Garrett this month. What an honor!
We are working these days on a retail line that will be delicious and make life a bit easier, just like we like to do…… REV Ithaca are a great help and resource for Ba-Li Cravings, especially the Women in Entrepreneurship program that Ba-Li Cravings was chosen to be part of (with 15 other woman owned businesses – worth reading about it.) Ken Rother is a great mentor and Rhonda Morton a wonderful coach.
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