March 8, 2013 By Bill Parry
When Pat Pilla started making chocolate-dipped cheesecake balls at her home in New Hyde Park about 3 years ago, she decided she wanted to mass produce them and go into business.
The lifelong baker, however, needed a kitchen. The one in her home was just too small.
“I found this place,” Pilla said, referring to the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City, which provided her with an industrial size kitchen. The massive facility has helped turn her business dream—like many others who use the kitchen space—into a reality.
Today, Pilla sells her product to local supermarkets– such as the Foodcellar in Long Island City–and online.
Pilla, who owns Chee Bonnet, was among the hundreds of attendees who turned out on Wednesday night to celebrate the second anniversary of the Entrepreneur Space.
The Entrepreneur Space, which is located at 36-47 37th Street, is a 12,500-sq foot food and business incubator, full of industrial size ovens and mixers. Bakers are able to rent the space in 8-hour blocks and mass produce their product.
Nearly 50 small-business owners—most of whom have taken advantage of the facility– exhibited their food at the anniversary event on Wednesday. About 175 people currently use the facility and sell their goods.
E-Space, as the Entrepreneur Space is known, is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It provides kitchen facilities and equipment as well as office space for $231 per eight hour shift. There is a cheaper overnight rate, which is $154.
Several of the products made at the facility were being served at the anniversary event, including pastries and other baked goods. Gourmet spices and marinades, old fashioned jams and jellies, truffle desserts and even Australian meat pies were available for tasting.
“This is economic development in its true sense,” said Seth Bornstein, the Executive Director of the Queens Economic Development Corp, which oversees the facility.
Rob McKay, the QEDC Director of Marketing, said that 70% of the available time slots at E-Space have been taken.
Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has agreed to work with E-Space.
Several representatives from Martha Stewart Living were at the anniversary event including Thomas Joseph who said that the company will “provide marketing advice and answer any questions that might help small businesses improve their product.” He said it is tough to start a small business.
Rebecca Dengrove, who was there for the second anniversary event, knows how difficult it is.
Like others, she didn’t have enough kitchen space to fully develop her specially-brewed popsicles. She found E-Space.
“I was able to expand here and started to sell at the South Street Seaport,” Dengrove, the CEO and Founder of Brewla, said. “Last year, at this event we met buyers from Fairway and they picked up our product.”