commercial kitchen

The Rumors of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated....

So yesterday I hear a rumor that Frontier Kitchen (aka "that kitchen in Lorton") was going out of business soon.  As the owner, operator and founder of this company, I will have to say that is akin to reading your own obituary.

For all of our members, friends, fans and new business owners, I want to first assure you that we are NOT going out of business any time soon.  

We are supremely privileged to be helping dozens of new companies--food trucks, caterers, bakers, product makers and even food tech companies--get started.  This is our passion and our life's work.  We aren't going anywhere.

In fact, we are working hard on new programs and offerings in 2018 for existing and soon-to-be members...stay tuned.  Really exciting things are coming to Frontier Kitchen. 

If you are thinking about starting your company or journey with us soon...don't wait!  You will want to be onboard for what is next! 

Brenda Cromer Brown
CEO & Co-Founder of Frontier Kitchen


Regulatory Licensing for Food Companies in Virginia

To be clear, food licensing requirements vary by state.  The information below covers our experience and our members' experiences specifically with the Virginia Commonwealth government.  

Your licensing requirements are fully dependent on what you make.  So, lets go by category.

1. Baked goods/non-hazardous food items.  Virginia has excellent cottage laws for brand new businesses looking to get started.  If you make cupcakes/breads/cookies (and more) you are permitted to make them from your home and sell them at farmers markets (excepting if you live in Arlington and Alexandria jurisdictions).   This is a great way to start without adding overhead into your budget.

A word of caution, however...from personal experience, you are likely to run out of room very, very quickly.  Plan your startup funds to include overhead by no later than month 3 if you are interested in growing as quickly as possible.

Once you are ready, you will require licensing from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Commerce (VDAC).  Sometimes you can get your home licensed to produce but, again, space and equipment are always an issue.

2. Catering.  Due to time/temperature/sanitation requirements, it is never a good idea to make ready-to-serve meals from your home.  No counties in Virginia permit you to do so.  This is important because if you try to do so, you cannot get insurance on your company (and, even if you could, if there was a food handling incident your insurance wouldn't cover it because you are working illegally).  Don't do it.  Save up money enough money for at least 3-6 months of kitchen overhead and startup fees and join an incubator that can help you with proper licensing.

3. Prepackaged Meals. Ok, this one is a little more challenging.  If your desire is to sell prepackaged meals to grocery outlets (or any other reseller) AND your meals contain animal protein, you will require USDA inspection while cooking.  This is an expensive and time consuming process that we do not recommend for new companies.  However, there is an exemption in the USDA regulations for direct-to-consumer sales that states [paraphrased] if the consumer is buying directly from the manufacturer, USDA inspection is not required.  So, find direct sales outlets--delivery and subscription services are popular--at least in the beginning.

4. Drinks.  In Virginia, this is also handled by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Commerce.  You may be required to take a course called the "Better Process Control School" that will help you understand dangers and mitigation of spoilage/foodborne illness with shelf stable products.  

There are always exceptions and opportunities, no matter what you would like to make.  If you have further questions on what it would take to put your specific idea into production, contact us today.


5 Reasons to Start Your Company

Almost everyone dreams of being their own boss.  But less than 5% of people will ever really take that leap.  Here are 5 reasons that tell you when you should take that leap..

1. You feel awful at the end (or beginning) of everyday.  The cubicle grind is tough--terrible commutes, backstabbing coworkers and terrible bosses.  Being on your own means you are in complete control of your day providing levels of freedom that you can only imagine!

2. You are the hardest worker at your job but are unappreciated.  Starting your own company is the hardest work you will ever do.  

3. You want more for your family's future. Whether it is teaching the fundamentals of business to your kids or just taking control of your family's finances, starting your own company puts you in the drivers seat.  The car may be difficult push start it up hill, but once it gets moving--watch out!    

4. Your energy and knowledge are your best resource.  Here in the DC area, many of us work in government industry jobs.  You likely have a great looking resume and an unfulfilling, boring job.   Even if you have never cooked professionally, ALL of your previous skills matter when it comes to running a company.  

5. You are ready to learn and challenge yourself.  Owning your own company is a steep learning curve.  No matter how much you research, read and work with others, being in charge yourself and spending your own money is very, very different from anything you have done before.  Everyday brings new challenges and, if you are open and honest with yourself, will shape you into a new person.  Being the boss is as much about being a student as it is being a leader.