Kitchen Doors: Local First Arizona Supports Entrepreneurs Through Community Kitchens

Local First Arizona is supporting entrepreneurs in the food business through its three Community Kitchens, with a fourth scheduled to open soon. 

“We are helping businesses in underserved communities that may not have access to resources due to barriers like education and language,” said Jose Gamiz, food entrepreneurship coordinator at Local First Arizona.

Local First Arizona’s Community Kitchen incubation program offers low-cost access to commercial kitchens to food entrepreneurs who need a fully equipped and licensed space and resources to launch or expand their business.

Entrepreneurs in the incubation program can use Local First Arizona’s Community Kitchen space for up to two years while they build their business and receive guidance on running a food business, from finance and purchasing to marketing, staffing and operations.

“We help entrepreneurs grow their business to the point where they can open their own space, whether it’s a food truck, brick and mortar location or an online business,” said Gamiz. “We are here to help these entrepreneurs set and achieve their goals. We can also connect them to banks and credit unions for loans and help them get permits they need.”

Entrepreneurs with a food-related business can apply through Local First Arizona’s Good Food Finder website. Businesses selected for Local First’s Community Kitchen incubation program must participate in the Good Food Boot Camp, a six-week course providing information and resources from experts and industry professionals to help entrepreneurs successfully scale their businesses.

Local First Arizona holds quarterly meetings with entrepreneurs in the incubation program to review their progress. They can also connect them to professionals who can help in areas like accounting and website development. After entrepreneurs leave the incubation program, they can continue to receive support from Local First Arizona.  

Gamiz was part of the first Community Kitchen incubation program in Mesa as an entrepreneur. “I have come full circle, and now I have the opportunity to help other entrepreneurs, which is extremely rewarding,” he said.

Local First Arizona has incubated more than 200 restaurants and food businesses since 2017 through its Community Kitchen and Good Food Boot Camp programs. 

Community Kitchens have been home to a variety of businesses, from homemade jams, candied nuts and desserts to food trucks and catering companies. Success stories coming out of Local First Arizona’s program include Empanada Empire, Bagel Daddies and Chilte, which has received local and national awards. 

One of the businesses currently utilizing Local First Arizona’s Maryvale Community Kitchen, which opened in late 2023, is Chispita’s Catering, which a mother and daughter run. 

“It’s a great experience being in the Maryvale Community Kitchen,” said Carmen Perez, the chef at Chispita’s Catering. “The kitchen has good equipment and the space we need. We are learning a lot about running our business, including marketing, finance and much more. It’s reassuring to have help available to guide and advise us as we grow.” 

For information, go to  

About Shoshana Leon

Shoshana Leon is a culinary writer for Frontdoors Media and creator of Foodie Fo Sho.

From Frontdoors Magazine

Back to Top