Chefscape: Low-Risk, High-Reward Help for Food Businesses

Vanessa Wagner
Small Business and Entrepreneurship Manager

 

I met Rob Batchelder and Ginny Grivas nearly three years ago. We met to discuss the feasibility of a shared commercial kitchen in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Rob’s motivation to open this kind of business came out of his own need as a food truck operator. Yes, Rob’s food truck would benefit from a prep location closer to his home, but he was also interested in helping other Loudoun-based operators like himself.

Today, Chefscape Kitchen in Ashburn is serving as a USDA-certified facility, and their team is celebrating the grand opening of a second location in the Village at Leesburg.

The new one is a 16,000 square-foot commercial kitchen that features a food hall, an indoor farmers market, and an education facility.

Chefscape Kitchen is not just a shared space, it’s a shared story. In the past year, the infrastructure, subject knowledge, and members’ shared experience has resulted in a number of ideas being turned into viable businesses.

The shared kitchen community has helped “graduate” companies like Little Austria, Kovi Kitchen and Frozen Stuff on a Stick (formerly known as Pop Culture).

Each of these success stories was able to leverage the Chefscape Kitchen community to gain access to equipment and knowledge that they would have otherwise had to make a costly investment in, without the certainty of product-market fit and customers.

When I’ve spoken to these businesses, many of them rave about how this opportunity not only gave them the equipment they needed to get started, but also the connections and support of their peers. These businesses succeeded because of the help they got from one another.

I am often asked by clients or prospects, “What makes Loudoun different from ________?” My response always begins with what made me fall in love with area 10 years ago: “While Loudoun is growing quickly, it still has a small-town feel because other businesses/your neighbors want to help you succeed.”

I believe this in my heart and I share it with conviction because I witness it every day.

Chefscape is one example, but there are so many groups in Loudoun where successful business leaders volunteer to help others. Just to name a handful: The Lemonhead Council, The New Ag School, the CEO Cabinet and our economic development councils.

When I think about the Chefscape story, I am beyond humbled to be serving in my role. I do not take credit for the success of these businesses, but I’m proud of the job that I and other county staff do to reduce barriers and connect entrepreneurs to the right resources at the right time.

If you’re thinking about starting or growing your business in Loudoun County, please contact me. We have an entire community that’s here to help you, and I look forward to showing you how business success is #LoudounPossible.

 

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