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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — The Burgaw Incubator Kitchen has helped one business get off the ground and even expand. It’s a success story for both the kitchen and the small business.

The problem is, the business has been using the kitchen for nearly two years.. It’s leaving some entrepreneurs wondering when it’s their turn.

Monique Kirby spent her savings opening up her small business Burgaw Bakery.

“I wouldn’t have spent all that money on all the stoves, refrigerators, the freezers,” Kirby said. “It would’ve been nice just to try it out first in Burgaw and perhaps find a place just to sell the baked items first, so I would not have made such a huge investment as I did.”

She wanted to use the Burgaw Incubator Kitchen, but she looked online and saw Custom Fit Meals had it booked at least four days a week Custom Fit Meals started using the kitchen in April 2010. It’s now considered the “anchor tenant.”

The purpose of the kitchen is to help businesses get off the ground. But how long does that take?

“Custom Fit Meals has taken off really quickly, and they’ve been able to expand,” Incubator Kitchen Chairperson Rebekah Costin said. “As far as whether they’d have ability to move out on their own at this point, I’m not sure. And that’s one thing we’re hoping to strengthen is our ability to kind of access people’s ability to move out on their own when they no longer need services of the kitchen.”

Costin says when they signed a long-term contract with Custom Fit Meals, no one else was interested in using the kitchen. Plus, even though the calendar shows Custom Fit Meals has reserved the kitchen several days a week, that doesn’t mean they’re using it.

Even so, Custom Fit Meals owner Mike Clay says he’s here for the duration or until he outgrows the facility. But he is more than willing to make room.

“I’ve always had an open policy with the kitchen that when there is another tenant we want to try and accommodate them,” Clay said.

Kirby’s issues have been resolved. In fact, she may be using the kitchen in the future, especially since the town just spent around $12,000 on new kitchen equipment, which Clay requested.

“We did not buy for one particular business,” Costin said. “We had heard people say in past wish had more convection ovens.”

Burgaw town leaders say they have not heard any complaints from other business owners. They want anyone who is interested in using the kitchen to contact them.

The Incubator Kitchen Board will meet this month to address these issues.

Comment on this Story

  • ChefnSurf

    Being a food professional (my non de plume might be a tip-off) I know how hard it is to get a food business up and running. Using the Incubator Kitchen, or one like it, gives an aspiring foodie a chance to see if their product is really salable prior to investing in all the necessary equipment. As long as the Kitchen shares the wealth, this is a great idea. Good luck.

  • greenie

    Another great example of government getting involved in private business when they shouldn’t. Buck up and pony up the money and fend for yourself like Ms. Kirby did. It’s the real test to see if your business can make it. Why WOULD Clay leave, he’s getting a free ride. Can’t wait until he’s “too big to fail” and we have to bail him out!

  • alwayswatching

    Of course they are going to say nice things about Custom Fit Meals. It’s about money. Custom Fit Meals pays the bills and it looks good on the incubator kitchen balance sheet. The kitchen’s mission is to help new businesses get off the ground. There is no room for anyone but Custom Fit Meals. Five days a week, all day it is reserved. It’s more than time for CFM to find their own place. But why would they, when they can stay in the incubator kitchen. No jobs created, no new businesses beginning. No room for anyone except CFM.


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