Derry business helps chefs market their creations
Windham resident and entrepreneur Neelima Gogumalla said she knew there was room for an intermediary step between kitchen creation and factory-produced food products.
To help bridge that gap, Gogumalla is opening Creative Chef Kitchens at the Hannaford's Plaza in Derry by the end of January.
Creative Chef Kitchens will be a commercial kitchen with 11 cooking and preparation spaces for personal businesses and home cooks looking at the possibility of making and marketing their creations. Gogumalla said the goal is to give these home cooks and small businesses the space and resources to take the next step. As an experienced entrepreneur with several business degrees, Gogumalla said she will provide marketing and business classes at Creative Chef Kitchens as well as commercial kitchen space.
"There are some community kitchens at restaurants or senior centers that will rent out available kitchen space, but there isn't really anyone that does it on a commercial basis," Gogumalla said. "It came to me that most businesses need an incubator, but that didn't really exist for the restaurant business."
Gogumalla said that partnerships with the University of New Hampshire and other business and educational leaders will be just as important as providing high-quality professional kitchen space.
"We want to teach people how to develop a small business plan and a concept of where they want to go," she said.
Gogumalla began developing the space at the Hannaford's Plaza about four months ago, about the same time she started reaching out to possible customers for the space.
Already, there have been a number of caterers and bakers who have signed up for the service, as well as some customers who are looking to use the kitchens to develop pet products.
Employee Mohini Durgampudi said she is looking forward to working in the day-to-day operations of Creative Chef Kitchens. With experience as a baker, she said she knows how hard it can be to bridge that gap between doing small catering jobs out of a home kitchen and having a large commercial kitchen at your disposal.
The kitchen space is rented by the hour, allowing opportunities for everyone from those who need commercial space for preparations for a single event to entrepreneurs looking to ramp up a new restaurant or food product.
"This is quite a risk, but it has potential," Gogumalla said of the business. She said Derry and southern New Hampshire is the perfect location for this type of business, with easy access to Boston and Massachusetts, but also having a close relationship to many rural areas and farmers markets.
"We really want the farmers markets to feed into this and we want to encourage local businesses and farmers," Gogumalla said.
As Gogumalla has pushed her dream of a restaurant and food incubator business into reality, she said Derry town officials have been nothing but helpful.
"The planning department was very helpful and the space is just perfect," she said. "There's plenty of parking and it's near the highway."
For more information, visit Gogumalla's website at www.creativechefkitchens.com.