Salt Lake City unveils remodeled culinary incubator kitchen

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City restaurateurs have some new hope after an incubator kitchen opened its doors in the Poplar Grove area.

It’s called the Square Kitchen, and it’s been a project eight years in the making.

The kitchen is fully furnished to provide space for cooking large meals for cooks, caterers, food truck operators, and young restaurateurs.

“For my business, Square Kitchen will help me grow because it provides me a place for production and packaging, whereas, I need a space of this size to be able to produce the capitol, I need to also be profitable."

Owner of The Loaf, Johanna Dasteel, gave her small business a place to get on its feet. Instead of her spending time and money researching a place to rent a kitchen space from, and signing a lease, she now can use the resources at the Square Kitchen to bake her goods.

“My business is called The Loaf Green Free Goodness,” Dasteel said. “I make paleo-friendly baked goods. My main products are breads paleo, Irish soda bread, cinnamon raisin bread, cashew bread, I have a sandwich bread; I also make chocolate chip cookies, they just happen to be vegan as well."

The building the Square Kitchen took over was an old warehouse built in 1946. After a $1.2 million investment from both private investors and Salt Lake City Corporation providing grants and loans, the Square Kitchen was created.

It’s co-founders, Ana Valdemoros and Tham Soekotjo, shared their vision eight years ago after they saw a void in Salt Lake City’s restaurateur community.

“Dreams do come true!” said Valdemoros to her guests on opening day Friday, May 4th. “Welcome to Square kitchen!”

Valdermoros also owns Argentina’s Best Empanadas. She started selling them over a decade ago at Salt Lake City’s Farmer’s Market but she quickly realized she needed to make more somehow and faster. She saw the need for an incubator kitchen.

She and Soekotjo went to work and researched what it would take to create an incubator kitchen. They received a lot of help from Portland’s incubator Kitchen called Kitchen Crew, that employs more than 100 people through its operations. Finally, after seeking the proper funding and city support, Square Kitchen was created.

Valdemoros went from taking two hours in her small kitchen baking 100 empanadas, to only taking 30 minutes to bake the same amount in Square Kitchen’s space.

Food truck owner Julianne Nagle signed up as another one of the 14 businesses using Square Kitchen, with 85 more on the wait-list.

“This kitchen has been a lifesaver,” Nagle said.

Nagle’s food truck called “Garden O’Veaten” is coming out in three weeks, she said.

“Being supported by someone like Ana and Tham is huge because they understand your mission,” Nagle said. “I don’t believe they are in it to make the big dollar; I believe they are in it to make businesses bigger.”

To learn more about the kitchen, click here.