SPRINGFIELD, Ore — Sprout! in Springfield. It’s more than a farmers market. In the Sprout! commercial kitchen, entrepreneurs are cooking up opportunity.
Kitchen space has been available for almost two years both hourly and monthly. Clients use the kitchen to prepare food or package it for retail sales, but a new program takes it a step further.
The Hatch Business Incubator Program at Sprout!, established by NEDCO, is ensuring individual success and economic development. The program connects entrepreneurs to resources. One of the most expensive costs to starting up a restaurant is the equipment. The overhead cost alone can run into the high thousands. At Sprout!, entrepreneurs have access to a kitchen, stoves, ovens, refrigerator and storage. Clients also receive classes, networking opportunities and mentoring.
Organizers say, the program works. The public is invited to taste the success. Currently, Leela Nelapudi operates Leela’s Authentic Indian Cuisine at Sprout! She serves healthy, fresh, vegetarian dishes that change daily based on what’s in season. It’s open 11:30am to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday as well as 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.
Opening a restaurant had been Nelapudi’s dream, and then she learned about the Hatch Business Incubator Program. She opened her incubator restaurant nearly four months ago and so far, so good.
“Very successful. (Business) picked up. At first it was very slow. I wasn’t discouraged,” said Nelapudi.
Leela’s Authentic Indian Cuisine and the 100 Mile Bakery are both part of the Hatch Incubator Pilot Program at Sprout!
Leda Hermecz operates her “pop up” bakery at Sprout! Her goal was to create a bakery that features locally made breads, lunch salads and sweet treats.
“So after trying to talk about a half dozen people into it, I realized it was my dream. I decided to go further and open up 100 Mile Bakery, sourcing all local ingredients from this area within 100 miles and turning them into baked goods,” said Hermecz.
Once in the program, an entrepreneur can establish their name and build their clientele. That’s what Hermecz and Nelapudi are currently doing. Both are located inside Sprout! at 418 A St. in Springfield. Nelapudi says she’ll be at the location for another year and then she hopes to make the big jump.
“To have our own restaurant and our goal is to serve the community. Give a lot, so I hope it gets there,” said Nelapudi.
The official Hatch Business Incubator Program at Sprout! starts this November. Organizers are currently looking for clients for the restaurant and retail product programs. The application process requires a presentation as well as a business plan. For more information, click here.