Seven years ago, Brian Albert and Mott Smith created Amped Kitchens in Los Angles, California. They realized small restaurant businesses face challenges trying to bring their dreams to fruition. Brian Albert utilizes his experience in real estate, finance, and law business as the co-owner of Amped Kitchens. Mott Smith has over 25 years of experience in the real estate business. He is very familiar with regulatory complexities and passionate about creating opportunities for others. The Amped Kitchen owners like to repurpose and revitalize old buildings. Amped Kitchens found an old Northwest Side factory that made various electronic products from the old Zenith Corp. They remodeled the 117,000-square-foot facility at 5801 W. Dickens Ave. in the Belmont-Cragin neighborhood. This facility has 64 private kitchens, refrigeration, dry storage, and similar resources for local entrepreneurs ready to take their food recipes to the next level. The Chicago facility is the third for Los Angeles-based Amped Kitchens, with two more locations in its hometown.
Brian and Mott realized most small businesses often hit roadblocks after a certain point of success. They need more production space, room for expansion, and more resources. The health department has a lot of requirements that can be difficult for a new business. Amped Kitchens partnered with the local health department. This partnership is mutually beneficial for both parties. The health department is thrilled to partner with Amped Kitchens, the convenience of evaluating many kitchens in a centralized location is so appealing. The Amped Kitchen facility has quality restaurants, strong standards, a great team to help everything run smoothly and keep the common areas clean.
Their main goal was to help tenants get started faster, with quicker access to the market. Brian and Mott are longtime fans of Chicago and its diverse food offerings. This city is full of people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and communities, and the food scene reflects the same. Most tenants find them via a Google search or word of mouth. The tenants sign a one-year lease, bring their production equipment, and have 24/7 access to the facility. Amped Kitchen is a huge benefit to the minority restaurant community. This opportunity gives the restaurant owners options that they would not currently have access to. This opportunity helps them get to the next level. The tenants have created a community where they support each other, share resources, and test new recipes. Brian said, “the quality of food from our tenants is out of this WORLD!” Working with the officials at the city and state levels has been very positive for Amped Kitchens.
Toni Browley, the owner of Scone House Café, was one of the first tenants at Amped Kitchens. She creates sweet, savory, gluten-free, and vegan scones. Toni currently has over 75 flavors to date, with more ideas coming soon. Toni found this opportunity via a Google search. She noted a friendly staff and a plethora of resources helped her decide on this opportunity. Her products are available via farmer’s markets, online sales, and local delivery. In addition, two local grocery stores have recently approached her about carrying her tasty scones. For more information, check out www.sweetsenbaker.com.
Yasmine Curtis, the owner of Two Fish, is another tenant. Two Fish is an established seafood restaurant on the south side. Yasmine notes they are building their presence in the local grocery stores. The Amped Kitchen opportunity allows this restaurant to have access to a sizeable temperature-controlled freezer. You can find their products in the freezer section at Jewel, Mariano’s, Pick & Save, and Metro Mart. Amped Commercial kitchens meet all the regulatory guidelines, including hair nets, cleaning common areas, and following safety protocols. Yasmine plans to move to her own production space in the future but notes this was a great starting place and learning opportunity for Two Fish. For more information, check out Two Fish Crab Shack – Chicago’s Premier Seafood Boil.
The kitchens come in various sizes, with three-compartment sinks, hand sinks, food sinks, commercial hoods, and specialized temperature controls per unit. Brian and Mott’s goal was to level the playing field and create more access to entry for small restaurant owners.
Besides the kitchen and storage spaces, the tenants also have access to lockers, co-working space, and meeting rooms. This opportunity allows restaurants to start up their business in four weeks instead of the typical six weeks. Additionally, the money needed to start up the company is costly; this opportunity helps them enter the industry for a lesser amount. The COVID-19 pandemic made the move to Chicago challenging but brought everything to a halt. Brian and Mott used the lesson learned from the Los Angeles locations to make the Chicago facility run smoother. Mott said, “Chicago means business, and the city is always looking for opportunities that will create more jobs.” Please check out Commercial Kitchens for Rent | Chicago | Amped Kitchens for More information on Amped Kitchen.
Theresa Horton is a contributing writer for the Chicago Defender. Find her on social media @passionateresources.