Saving Denver's Food Artisans

A new project aims to help growing local food companies find the kitchen space they need to succeed.

January 2016

—Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In Colorado’s exploding culinary scene, small-batch food professionals are scrambling to stay in business—not due to lack of product demand but because access to affordable commercial kitchen space is scarce. Take Julie Ciezadlo, for example. The owner of the now-defunct Tuffy Kickshaw’s Sweetly Covered Corn was forced to close a year ago in part because of rising rent and insufficient kitchen space.

That’s where Ashley Colpaart comes in. In July, the Colorado State University graduate student and doctoral candidate launched the Food Corridor, which connects food professionals in need of commercial cooking space with school districts, churches, commissaries, and hotels that have underused kitchens. Schools, for instance, don’t need that space during the summer. The arrangements provide extra income to schools, churches, and the like. (Colpaart earns her share from kitchen subscriptions and a small booking fee.) “Producing food and eating it, that’s sexy,” she says. “The in-between part—finding commissary kitchens and navigating the complicated world of food policy—that’s not as sexy. We are hoping to vamp it up.”  The Food Corridor is off to a good start: Weld County, Boulder, and Fort Collins are currently part of a pilot project, and Colpaart expects to launch in Denver in the coming months.