Kitchen 242 – 7 years Later

Community News |Jan 4, 2022|5 min read

Kitchen 242, located at the Muskegon Farmers Market, was created to be a food business incubator when it opened just a little more than 7 years ago. Kitchen incubators and shared kitchen facilities are always in a state of rapid innovation, evolution, and growth and you would think with the pandemic we have been facing for the past 20 months that things would have slowed down. Instead, business has been booming and there have been new start-ups in the past two years. The needs of the businesses working out of this space change constantly as they grow too. Working out of Kitchen 242 allows them to focus their time and money on developing their recipes, building their brand, improving their efficiency of making their product instead of having to invest in capital equipment and buildings. Technical assistance, capacity building and professional development opportunities are offered and Kitchen 242 works closely with other area resources such as Michigan State University’s Product Center, Grand Valley’s Innovation HUB and Grand Rapids Opportunity for Women (GROW) to connect the businesses to areas of expertise that they may need. “Our space gives those that have a dream time to really find out if this is what they want to do. Many of them work full-time elsewhere and want to try something new and different.” Says Renae Hesselink, Kitchen Manager. There is no time frame as to when they graduate out to their own bricks and mortar or space but most stay around two to three years, some less. “There is nothing more exciting then talking with someone who has a dream and then to see it come true for them.” Says Renae Hesselink, Manager of Kitchen 242. Many of them begin their selling process at the Muskegon Farmers Market which is another inexpensive way to build their brand, capacity and get good feedback from customers. They also may sell online and several have found their way to be at local retail shelves. Purchasing local has become even more important to many consumers throughout the pandemic and they are really supporting small businesses. The specialty food market reached total sales of $170.4 billion in 2020, a 13% increase since 2018, according to the annual State of the Specialty Food Industry Report from the Specialty Foods Association (SFA)

Businesses that are currently working out of Kitchen 242 are:



You also might recognize our graduates:



Kitchen 242 has also rented space to area caterers and restaurants that may need extra kitchen space when they are preparing food for festivals and larger catering events when they cannot fit it in to their own kitchen space. “Last summer we rented space to a new restaurant that was targeting to be open in September. Their food was freezer friendly so they worked all summer to prepare and freeze ingredients so they could hit the floor running when their restaurant opened.” Said Renae Hesselink, Kitchen Manager.

Kitchen 242 also acts as a storage location for some of the food businesses that are located at the Western Market Chalets. Those businesses rent dry storage space or maybe cooler and/or freezer space.

There are about a dozen kitchen incubator kitchens across Michigan. Managers of these kitchens get together quarterly to share experiences and best practices of managing share kitchen spaces.

Thank you to the leadership at the City of Muskegon for being forward thinking and continuing to support this great resource we have created for the food businesses in our community.