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'The Commissary' will help food entrepreneurs in Rochester

By Randy Gorbman • November 15, 2019

Construction has begun for an operation called Monroe County’s first-ever food business incubator.

It’s called The Commissary, and it is basically a facility that will provide high-end commercial kitchen equipment and relatively cheap rent to small food-based businesses trying to launch their companies.

The business incubator facility is located at the Sibley Building in downtown Rochester, and Laura Fox O’Sullivan of the Rochester Downtown Development Corp. says the idea is to provide a low-cost way for food entrepreneurs to grow their business.

“Having your own commercial kitchen is very expensive, it’s a very high barrier to entry for people who are looking to start a food business, and what The Commissary will do is that it will provide a low-cost, shared, kitchen facility that is rented by the hour; you’re not signing a long-term lease, it is just a kitchen for when you need it," Fox O'Sullivan said.

Denise Gaines is involved with a family-run bakery called GG Bakes based at her home, which is certified to use as a commercial operation, but she is considering using some of the commissary space to expand.

“Because we want to ramp up our business we need more equipment; and we don’t want to purchase it on our own, we can use a commissary like this when we want to do huge orders, if we want to go into Wegmans or something like that,” Gaines said.

The new commissary operation is scheduled to open next spring. The $2 million project is being funded through a combination of federal, state, and local grants and private donations.

It is expected to house about 30 businesses and create at least 60 jobs in the first year of operation.

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