Back in January, we shared the news about the upcoming development of the Center for Culinary Enterprise (CCE), Philly’s first kitchen incubator, located at 310 South 48th St.

The originally envisioned July opening date has nearly passed. Recently, the folks at The Enterprise Center, the West Philly-based business-growth-catalyst geared towards assisting high-potential minority entrepreneurs that helped found the CCE, announced a September 14 grand opening date. Currently, framing inside is complete and the kitchens are being built.

The building

When it opens, Desi Kitchen, an Indian/Pakistani restaurant, will occupy one of the retail spaces. Another will be occupied by Café Injera (from the former owners of Mohamed’s), a coffee shop featuring Halal products, domestic and Ethiopian blends as well as the staple Ethiopian bread, injera and more. This, according to director Delilah Winder.

In its simplest sense, Winder explained, the CCE is really divided into two parts: the retail portion, which fronts 48th Street, and the kitchen incubator, accessible through an entrance on Hanson Street. The incubator, composed of four state-of-the-art-kitchens that are open 24/7, is where growing businesses can rent space needed to help start or grow their operations.

View from Hansom Street. There will be some parking in the rear.

It’s a luxury Winder herself could have utilized when she opened her first business. She said if a space like this existed when she started Delilah’s Southern Cuisine Company at the Reading Terminal Market in 1984, she could have handled the catering aspect of her business at the incubator while she cooked in the kitchen space at the Terminal for retail customers.

“If you can imagine doing all that catering in 400 square feet of space,” she said. “Can you imagine how hectic that would be?”

Another look at the floorplan

In addition to the four kitchens, which will most likely be available for a minimum of four-hours at $22-$27/hr, CCE will host workshops, classes, and help connect entrepreneurs with various retailers and co-op programs that may be interested in purchasing their products.

Each year, the incubator is projected to launch or accelerate 10 businesses, according to its website. In addition, it has envisioned an estimated 54 to 81 full-time equivalent jobs will be created during its first year, with the possibility of 150 over three years. According to Winder, more than 85 clients, including the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (food trucks/carts) have expressed interest. The official application season begins in August.

This is another example of an innovative business venture in West Philadelphia. And with Ms. Winder, who received the 2007 Most Influential African American Leadership Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Women in Business Owners, and has appeared on a Food Network Throwdown with Bobby Flay, running the show, it seems the CCE is poised to serve as a catalyst for positive development in the neighborhood and the entire city.

–Lou Mancinelli