The kitchen incubator has been three years in the making. The facility will include a classroom and event space, a large training & community-use kitchen and bakery. The space also includes four cooking “pods,” or rentable spaces for mid to large-size companies, and retail space for vendors to sell their products.
“Dayton has tons of food entrepreneurs, not just here in Dayton but in the surrounding areas, and there was not a place for them to go. We wanted to provide a resource for entrepreneurs, not only to help their families but the community too,” said White.
Rice and White are co-owners of Divine Catering & Events, and Scales is an Air Force veteran and owner of culinary business Mutt’s Sauce.
The venture is being developed in two phases, the first being an entrepreneurial skills education program called Sharpen the Axe, created by Dayton-based nonprofit OH Taste. The program will teach as many as 50 up-and-coming entrepreneurs business fundamentals, specifically geared towards running a successful food and restaurant startup.
“You can take business classes a lot of places, but it’s not going to focus on packaging, marketing of your food products, labeling, nutritional data, things of that nature. So you’ll get all that education here and then you’ll have your opportunity to grow your business here and scale it, whether you want to go through e-commerce, or have a brick-and-mortar,” White said.
In the second phase, entrepreneurs will be offered market-rate rental spaces in the commercial kitchen that will include a retail store where people will have access to fresh and nutritious food created by tenants of the kitchen.
Entrepreneurs will also have access to mentoring, and business support such as sourcing ingredients, marketing and distribution, and access to capital.
The kitchen is named for the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (nicknamed “Six Triple Eight,”) a battalion of 855 Black women sent to Europe during World War II to solve the problem of the army’s mail. In February 1945, millions of pieces of unsorted mail intended for American servicemen in Europe sat undelivered in British warehouses, which Army officials at the time said was sapping American morale. The 6888th battalion sorted as many as 65,000 packages and letters daily, according to womenshistory.org, clearing a six-month backlog of mail in three months.
The commander of the 6888th, Charity Adams Early, is also a part of Dayton history. She attended Wilberforce University, was the first Black woman to be an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and after retiring from the military, was a longtime Dayton resident and active member in the community until her death in 2002.