The Epicenter of the Bustling Dream HUB
In 2012 Kevin and his father, Pedro, sold their Puerto Rican restaurant and started making empanadas at a local shared commercial kitchen that could be rented by the hour. This setting allowed them to grow their business rapidly, on occasion producing 10,000 empanadas an hour. Two years into this successful arrangement, it became known that the owners, Marcia and Tim Kellenberger, were looking to pursue other endeavors and sell the business. It didn’t take long for Kevin and Pedro to decide that their next move should be to buy the Shared Dream Kitchen and continue to grow that business as well. And the rest, as they say, is history.
What is a shared commercial kitchen, and what purpose does it serve? When starting a food-related business, be it catering or cupcakes, production must take place in a licensed commercial kitchen if the business is going to grow. How difficult could it be to get a kitchen up to code? First, architectural plans for the kitchen need to be submitted to the county, then to the health department, and finally to the city. Contractors and specialists need to be hired, plumbing needs to be added, walls usually need to be demolished or built and then painted, FRP panels need to be installed and the health department and city need to inspect this entire process at sanctioned intervals. And that is just the beginning! If you were setting out to fulfill your dreams as a baker, wouldn’t it be easier to walk into a kitchen that had already met all of these qualifications, one which you could use only as needed? A shared commercial kitchen provides a wonderful service for entrepreneurs who are not ready to assume the full cost and process of building out their own kitchen but want to grow their business.
In 2014 Kevin and Pedro took ownership of the 2,800 square-foot Shared Dream Kitchen and quickly expanded, doubling the kitchen’s size to 5,600 square feet. In 2016, a portion of the kitchen was remodeled to be a certified gluten-free kitchen, serving a huge need in today’s marketplace. In 2015 the schedule at Dream Kitchen was often maxed out, making it difficult to add new members. As the conversation about expanding continued, officials from McHenry took an interest in the Dream Kitchen operation. Several renters hail from suburbs north of Elgin, so creating a space in that area could potentially serve a great need. A space was identified in the suburb of Lake In The Hills and in August of 2015 Dream Kitchen’s second location opened. Now, in 2018, we are celebrating yet another expansion. Another 2,800 foot space became available within the Fleetwood Drive building and Dream Kitchen was able to claim that space as well, bringing the Elgin square footage up to 8,400. This space will largely be dedicated to storing and aggregating local produce, in accordance with our designation as the Kane County Food Hub.
From the beginning, Kevin was finely tuned in to the things small businesses needed to be successful; a logo, website, accounting services, educational opportunities and a marketing plan to name a few. A roadblock many entrepreneurs face is the abundance of startup costs without an abundance of available capital. Kevin knew how challenging this could be from hard-earned personal experience and he wanted to offer these services at prices that startups could actually afford, without compromising quality. He began to assemble a team and what is known today as the Dream HUB was born. This has been a constant for the business – operating today with a vision for the future. Entrepreneurs come to Dream Kitchen to use the kitchen space, but often end up utilizing other available services and then watching their business grow. One thing is certain – exciting things are happening within the Dream HUB, and it all started at Dream Kitchen