Partners to launch incubator kitchen in Boston Square

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Kzoo Station will provide opportunities for those looking to grow or start a food business. Courtesy Amplify GR

Two community organizations are renovating a shuttered auto shop into an incubator kitchen that will support access to culinary entrepreneurship for people of color and women in Boston Square.

SpringGR and Amplify GR said Wednesday, Dec. 8, they are partnering to renovate a former auto repair facility at 1445 Kalamazoo Ave. SE in Grand Rapids’ Boston Square business district into an incubator kitchen that will aim to bolster food entrepreneurship.

The new venture will be called Kzoo Station: A Community Kitchen + Eatery, with the name chosen in collaboration with residents and community stakeholders, and it is expected to open next summer.

In October, construction crews from Boston Square-based Preferred Construction Group started renovating the 1,416-square-foot former Good Shepherd Auto Repair building to create a commercial kitchen and a multitenant retail food business space that will provide opportunities for those looking to grow or start a food business. The architect is Isaac V. Norris & Associates, a longtime Black-owned Boston Square business.

The organizations said for years, neighbors have asked for increased opportunity to build or launch more Black-, brown- and women-owned businesses. Simultaneously, residents voiced the need for more local food options that reflect the diversity of the neighborhood.

“SpringGR is looking forward to identifying and cultivating primarily neighborhood-based food businesses that will operate out of Kzoo Station,” said Arlene Campbell, co-director and chief creator of opportunities for SpringGR. “Kzoo Station will eventually offer takeout options for customers from the businesses working within the kitchen, so it will be fun to create a food hub at this busy intersection.”

Kzoo Station will be developed by Amplify GR, which also will continue to lead resident engagement, linking SpringGR with neighborhood-based food entrepreneurs to use the space. The incubator kitchen will be run by SpringGR and offer neighbors access, resources and learning opportunities within a commercial kitchen to test or grow their food businesses. Plans are being created for a retail space that will allow customers to buy the food cooked up in the kitchen.

“The goal of this endeavor is to provide access to entrepreneurial opportunities and food options that reflect the community,” said Danielle Williams, director of economic opportunities, Amplify GR. “We are excited because Kzoo Station is a response to what neighbors have expressed they would like to see in their community. It also represents the first project in the collective community design known as Boston Square Together — one of many steps toward a growing neighborhood that prioritizes equitable outcomes.”

Amplify GR received a Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development grant that will support produce and dry good procurement from neighborhood grocer South East Market. In turn, Kzoo Station will support the market’s supply chain of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) farmers from Michigan.

Boston Square Together is collective community design of a 10-acre parcel in the center of the Boston Square neighborhood in Grand Rapids. It is run by a partnership of local organizations, businesses and residents who work together to create and execute a shared vision.

More information on Kzoo Station is available here.

Local entrepreneurs looking to grow their food business, who have an idea for a food business or who know someone who has a food business are encouraged to contact SpringGR to learn more about the opportunity.

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