Community meal to offer glimpse of incubator kitchen project

Tracy Sides and Bridger Merkt from the East Side catering and food education company Urban Oasis are hard at work getting the soon-to-open commercial incubator kitchen up and running.

“Kitchen on the Bluff” will be a 3,000-square-foot space that will feature a variety of professional kitchen implements, including a 16-foot stove hood, a walk-in cooler, a range, a double convection oven, a skillet, and a blast freezer to freeze prepared meals, plus a community gathering space in the front of the building.

This space will be available to small businesses, such as caterers, food truck restaurants and bakers, to rent.

The space could eventually provide all the needed equipment a small catering or food truck business would need.

The kitchen, formerly an Italian bakery, once served a similar purpose, when it was called “East Side Incubator Kitchen.”

It was a commercial kitchen available to rent for small businesses looking to get a start, but it was shut down in 2013, after food inspection responsibilities were taken out of the Ramsey County Department of Safety and Inspections’ hands.

Once the state was in charge, it re-inspected and found that the kitchen was not up to code and shut it down.

Now, with a partnership between the Latino Economic Development Center and Urban Oasis, the place should be fully renovated in August.

Urban Oasis will manage the kitchen and be a primary user, making condiments and using the facility to prep for catering events.

Other tenants are lined up, but with contracts not yet signed, those tenants’ names are not yet public.

Once running, the kitchen will be available to rent in increments as small as 10 hours per month. Alongside food cart entrepreneurs will be farmers who are connected with the East Side Enterprise Center. They will use the facilities to process their harvests.

Through the Enterprise Center, entrepreneurs using the kitchen can in turn get help and advice for starting a business.

To show off the new, soon-to-open digs, Urban Oasis is hosting a community meal on Saturday, July 25 at the kitchen from noon to 2 p.m.

The community meal will showcase Native American food traditions as part of an ongoing series Urban Oasis is putting on this year.

The meal takes place at the kitchen, located at 705 E. Third St. It’s free to, but participants are required to register by contacting Katherine Su at or 651-347-0954.

Other community meals scheduled are as follows:

• Aug. 15: Hmong food traditions

• Sept. 12: Latino food traditions

• Oct. 24: East Side Eats

All meals will be from noon to 2 p.m.

-- Patrick Larkin


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