Usher’s mom, Jonnetta Patton, is coming out of retirement to open J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator, offering aspiring chefs and caterers commercial kitchen space and equipment, food packaging services, and business workshops designed to jumpstart their business.
Located on Pleasantdale Road off I-85 in Usher’s former music studio, J’s Kitchen Culinary Incubator will open in the spring with three shared kitchens, a baker’s kitchen, tasting room, conference rooms, and both dry and cool storage areas. Mobile food service offerings are in the works, too.
“A lot of these chefs wear many hats. They cook the food, do the accounting and the marketing,” Patton says. “I am very excited about this business. We will grow fast, and we have the space to do it.”
Those interested can rent space for a minimum of four hours, or become a member with a multitude of packages available. Members will be able to purchase food and supplies at wholesale prices through the Incubator. We talked with Patton to learn more.
Why did you decide to leave retirement and, previously, the entertainment industry?
I love putting together really large, nice events. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the best chefs and caterers in the world. In the process of working with them, they’d complain about the shared kitchens where they’d prepare for events. I did some research and found out it’s fairly simple to open a shared kitchen.
Who are you targeting?
We’re interested in those focused, committed, and passionate about those who want to use their culinary talents to own a successful small business. We’re interested in culinary millennials (ages 18-30 and in culinary school), culinary veterans (chefs who work for someone else), and enthusiasts (those with disposable income who are interested in food). We already have some people lined up, including caterer Lisa Long, bakery the French Barn, and specialty good company the Snackery.
How do you find participants? Is there an application process?
It’s just a conversation. I went to a culinary school and had a meeting with the director of education who is a certified master chef. He bought into the concept right away. Any time I start talking about the business, people start coming. We’ve already signed Certified Master Chef Daryl Shular and have a bakery and specialty goods company coming in September. There is an application process. You need to have ServSafe certification, a business license, and at least $1 million in insurance.
Let’s talk about the workshops.
It’s a business development program with a three-year curriculum covering the basics of business. I want to start that off with a life coach to get participants in the right frame of mind before we get them in the kitchen. There will be workshops with CPAs, attorneys, marketing specialists, and business coaches. Classes are once a month during the week.
Will Usher be involved in any way?
I’m sure he will. He’s very excited for me and very supportive.