Business Week: Using a Kitchen Incubator to Get Started

When Bonnie Henderson decided to return to entrepreneurship after a corporate layoff in August 2008, she says the puzzle pieces seemed to fall into place like answers to her prayers. Her mother was in a position to lend her some startup funding, for instance, and friends found a terrific location for her restaurant.

But the most fortuitous accident came about when her partner, Betty Miller-Henderson, stumbled across a brand new commercial kitchen in May 2009. Not only was it convenient and affordable, but it was also more than just a kitchen facility. It was Mama's Small Business Kitchen Incubator, a Pasadena (Calif.) facility that exists to educate, encourage, and nurture budding food businesses.

"We had worked out of some commercial kitchens further away, but that was a real trek. So when we heard about Mama's, it was a godsend," says Henderson, whose Bonnie B's Smokin barbeque business started catering and delivery in 2009 and—just last week—staged a grand opening at its new restaurant in Altadena, Calif.

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Ashley Temm