What is The LEAP Kitchen?


The Kitchen is a shared commercial kitchen and food business incubator that recently opened in Downtown Roanoke. The Kitchen allows existing and start-up food businesses to prepare and package food that can then be purchased at community and farmers markets, retail stores and restaurants.

Get your first glimpse of what the kitchen has to offer on July 28 at the Pressure Canning Green Beans workshop. The event is at 5:30 p.m. Learn more and register early because space is limited.

Here are a few questions and answers about The Kitchen with LEAP’s Sam Lev:

What is The Kitchen?

As a business incubator, the Kitchen provides business planning and community resources to new food entrepreneurs (chefs, caterers, food trucks, bakers, etc.). Users can rent prep spaces and start the business you’ve always wanted without some of the expensive start up costs.

The Kitchen is available for individuals and farmers to make value-added products (turn your boxes of tomatoes into salsa). Plus, the Kitchen is a community space in which organizations and community groups can teach cooking and nutrition classes, bring additional attention to healthy eating, and get people excited about food and health!

The Kitchen is more than just a commercial kitchen. LEAP provides assistance with business planning, food safety, regulatory compliance, product marketing and distribution. Community kitchens that provide these services have more successful tenant businesses and better long-term success.

What does The Kitchen offer?

We offer two different production spaces, so hot prep for cooking soups, stocks, stews, and things like that, as well as a bake kitchen with a beautiful double convection oven and a mixer, so folks can come in and rent each production space on an hourly basis. We have a small amount of equipment: pots, pans, ladles, things like that. And then cold and dry storage as well.

What has the response been to The Kitchen?

It’s been really cool. A lot of people have been doubly motivated now to start the business they’ve always wanted to, now that they know there’s an easier way to do it than the traditional model. A lot of applications have been coming in, a lot of caterers, a lot of folks that make one product that they want to get out on the shelves of the grocery store. It’s been really phenomenal.

What’s one thing you want people to know about The Kitchen?

We’re also a really great event venue, so if you want to do a little pop-up restaurant or do a tasting for some of your catering clients, you can rent this space for four hours for $150. You get access to the entire kitchen to produce food, as well as our beautiful covered patio to put out some tables and chairs and host some guests.

What is LEAP, and what is LEAP’s role in The Kitchen?

Local Environmental Agriculture Project Inc. (LEAP) is a Roanoke-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to nurture healthy communities and resilient local food systems. We do this by connecting local farmers, food producers, culinary entrepreneurs and community members. LEAP was founded to increase local food access in Roanoke and to help small-scale farmers within a 100-mile radius of Roanoke have reliable market access to sell their local produce, meat, dairy and value-added products.

Since 2009, LEAP has supported the sustainable and economic development of farmers who sell at our markets. In 2015, the LEAP Mobile Market hit the streets—we purchase local produce and sell it in low income, low access neighborhoods in Roanoke City.

How can you get more information?

The Kitchen is located at 1210 Patterson Ave in Roanoke. The site is in the heart of West End Village, and the building is owned by the West End Center. It includes a Freedom First Credit Union branch, a community education room, covered pavilion for LEAP’s West End Community Market, and The Kitchen.

Check out The Kitchen website to learn more and see the equipment and floor plan. Email Sam Lev to schedule a tour.

Guest post by Kate Jewusiak. Jewusiak is a summer intern for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. She is a mass communication student at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology and will be a senior at Hidden Valley High School in the fall.