Food Startup Incubators in NYC

The Hot Bread Kitchen Incubator is a large space located in the neighborhood of East Harlem in Manhattan founded by Jessamyn Rodriguez. Hot Bread Kitchen runs a part of it’s operations by renting a more affordable kitchen space to food concepts that could benefit from a kitchen space without paying high commercial space rents. Hot Bread Kitchen helps different food startups tremendously to get their business off the ground. For example, Paula Barbosa prepares her Brazilian sweets, Brigadeiros, out of the HBK and sells most of her products online and in select food markets. Barbosa explains that after the Times gave her business, My Sweet Brigadeiro, a great review she found herself in a position where she was struggling to keep up with demand: “It was crazy – we were a fad and we weren’t ready…We didn’t even have a credit card machine and we were saying ‘yes’ to everybody. So we decided to rent kitchen space and do this the proper way.”

The other part of HBK’s business besides renting kitchen space to food startups is a bakery. The incubator employs roughly 50 people across both the incubator and bakery sections. The breads that are produced at the kitchen are then sold at various retailers and markets in New York including Whole Foods. Ms Rodriguez explains that besides the ability for the different startups to network and meet new people, the atmosphere in the kitchen is always busy and this is encouraging; “It’s inspiring for entrepreneurs, to see this constant production and delivery schedule. They get the message that if all goes well, they could end up like this.”

There is another similar food incubator run in Long Island City by Mr. Michael Schwartz called the Organic Food Incubator (OFI). Mr. Schwartz began his own business, BAO Food and Drink and decided to create the OFI to provide food startups with the resources and advice he wish he had when he launched BAO from recipe development to legal advice. The OFI centre is currently incubating 60 companies. One of the successful ‘graduates’ of the center, Ariel Glazer from Kombrewcha teas, states: “When you start a business you don’t know what you’re getting into, and if you need lots more time to develop the product it can kill your business…By doing it through an incubator, you don’t need to put up initial capital.”

To read more about the OFI incubator in LIC and the HBK incubator and bakery in East Harlem, click here.


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