The Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix welcomed the opening of a new low cost commercial kitchen to help local restaurants and food entrepreneurs start their business thanks to Local First Arizona. This is the third community kitchen opened by the local non-profit that acts as an incubator for locally grown restaurants and other businesses. The Maryvale kitchen was opened in partnership with Rio Salado College to help West Valley entrepreneurs get a start with a fully functional kitchen at a cost $8 an hour (normally $40 an hour plus fees in other kitchens) for the first year and $12 an hour in year two.  The other kitchens are located in Mesa and in south Phoenix and currently there are 12 women chefs and food business owners using the new kitchen.

Several of those using the kitchen are immigrants Haiti, Cuba and West Africa and are making everything from jellies & jams, pre-made healthy meals, desserts and more. It’s also a starting point for food trucks and event caterers. Some of those currently working out of the Maryvale kitchen include Golden Palm Foods (West African food products, catering and cooking classes), Sorelle (sandwiches & dessert) and Ohh Señoor (Mexican food event & catering). LFA has helped more 200 local restaurants and food businesses since 2017 with their Good Food Boot Camp and the two other kitchens.

Several success stories have emerged from Local First’s food programs including Chilte, named one of the Best New Restaurants in the U.S. by Bon Appetite magazine and Pachamama which has been named one of the Best Places to Eat in the Southwest by Yelp! and in Phoenix by Thrillist. Many of the others can be seen at local farmer’s markets around Arizona, in food trucks, sold at specialty retailers and in brick and mortar locations.

The kitchens offer free storage, cookware and one on one mentoring from experienced restaurant staff and are equipped with everything including pots & pans, a walk in refrigerator, freezers, cold storage, ovens, a dish washing room and more. Along with learning the business side of the the restaurant and food industry those using the kitchen have a greater chance of success when they head out on their own. The success of the LFA’s programs has inspired the cities of Yuma and Prescott to open their own community kitchens following LFA’s “Kitchen in a Box” guide.

Rio Salado College and the kitchen is at 3631 W. Thomas Rd. Phoenix 85019 and more information can be found at LFA’s website.

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