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The commissary.

COMING spring 2020.


There is nothing easy about launching a food business. One of the biggest obstacles for starting a food business in Rochester is the high cost of setting up a commercial kitchen. The Commissary will be a resource to help you overcome that obstacle. Imagine having access to food industry-specific support services and commercial, licensed kitchen facilities and equipment only when you need it.


photo: St. Roch Market, (Louisiana), Gabrielle Geiselman

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Contribute to Rochester’s
First Kitchen Incubator

November 14th 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Sibley Square

Join us for a night of sampling local cuisine and raising the final funds to open The Commissary, Rochester's only kitchen incubator.

Interested in being a vendor at the event? Learn more here.

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Thank you to our sponsors for their generous support.

Do you want to help us open our doors? As a not-for-profit food business incubator and shared kitchen facility, we are raising funds for the buildout of The Commissary. We have received tremendous support from public entities and private donors and are so close to reaching our funding goals. Help us open our doors by making a donation of any amount.




Hi, we're new here.

Aspiring food business entrepreneurs will have a one-of-a-kind facility downtown to test, prepare, market, and sell their products. A project of RDDC, The Commissary will be located on the main level of Sibley Square, and will be the only kitchen incubator facility in Upstate New York.

Kitchen incubators provide the certified commercial kitchen and equipment necessary to grow a legal food business. Instead of taking on the risk of investing in expensive commercial equipment, members of The Commissary will be able to rent a kitchen station on an hourly basis - only when they need it. For more information on how it works, click here.

In addition to use of the commercial kitchen stations, members of The Commissary and other would-be food entrepreneurs and the general public will have access to workshops that focus on building successful food businesses - topics will range from "Social Media for Food Businesses" to "Taking the Mystery out of Business Insurance." These workshops have already begun in a unique partnership with the RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship.

Foodies from across our community will also have the chance to get involved! We'll be hosting cooking classes in partnership with the Rochester Brainery, chef demonstrations, pop up dinners, and other food-centric celebrations that will highlight the talents of our members and take place in the heart of our rapidly transforming Downtown Innovation Zone.

stay connected with the commissary

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The Commissary offers food industry specific workshops to help established and budding food business entrepreneurs navigate the industry. 

Stay tuned to learn about our upcoming workshops!

All workshops take place at RIT CUE  

Workshops to date:

  • "How To Set Your Food Business up for Success & the Permits and Documents You Need to Get There"

  • "Engaging your Audience through Social Media"

  • "Picture Perfect: Food Styling & Photography"

  • "Recipe for Success: How Unconventional Food Businesses Got Their Start"

  • "How to Take Your Product from Idea to Market"

  • "Success Stories: Taking Your Product from Idea to Market"

  • “Find Money to Launch or Grow Your Food Business”

Missed the workshop? Need a refresher? Check out our YouTube Channel here.




The opening of The Commissary's doors is anticipated for the end of 2019. The layout has been designed by Julio Torres of BHS Foodservice Solutions. The facility will be located on the main level of Sibley Square. Check back for updates of our progress. 


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To learn more about The Commissary and the services that will be offered, click here

If you are a caterer, baker, restaurant, or food truck owner, you must submit these permits and documents to operate as a legal business in Monroe County and within The Commissary. This type of food operation will be regulated by the Monroe County Health Department.

If you are a producer of packaged food goods or shelf stable food products, you must submit these permits and documents to operate as a legal business in Monroe County and within The Commissary. This type of food operation will be regulated by the Department of Agriculture & Markets.

Still not sure which Department will permit your food business? Click here.



These permits and documents must be submitted in order to operate as a legal food business in Monroe County and to use The Commissary facilities. Learn more about getting a 20-C License for Food Processing, necessary for selling any packaged food products.

Interested in taking your idea for a packaged food good from home kitchen to grocery store shelves? This presentation from local experts will help you get started.

Cornell Venture Center
With one of the world's leading food science universities just down the road, we are very fortunate to have Cornell as an affordable, knowledgeable resource for food business of all scales. The CFVC provides process reviews for safety and stability of food products with focus on small and mid-sized manufacturers and entrepreneurs.

For more information on different types of food goods and the regulations surrounding each, along with instructions and the required documents, check out The CFVC Guide. Still looking for more direction about what regulations your food product requires? Give the team a call at (315) 787-2280.

New York State Food Processors Association

The purpose of the Associated New York State Food Processors is to create an environment for the food manufacturing sector to be able to network with similar companies and suppliers sharing ideas and solutions for their everyday needs. The Association brings companies and individuals together that have experience and resources that enable food processors to improve their operation and explore new technologies.

Local Contacts:

  • Norm Brown - Burch Bottle: large assortment of containers and closures perfect for condiments, syrups, honey, sauces, spices etc.
  • Jeff Andolora - Adflex Corp: Pressure sensitive label supplier located in Rochester, NY
  • Tom Seymour - Maco Bag: Supplier of bags and pouches, inhouse manufacturing and assembly
  • Juan Pellecer - Covance: 3rd Party Product Development Resource

Looking to vend at a local farmers market? Here’s some guidance to get you started:


In addition to the resources and workshops created by The Commissary, there are many great sources of information and guidance within our region for food business entrepreneurs:

Central Library of Rochester: Business Division
The Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County has many tools that an aspiring food entrepreneur needs to make their business a success. Their expert business research specialists can help you.



Kiva is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. They celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves by expanding access to capital for entrepreneurs around the world. To see if you qualify for a Kiva loan, click here. To learn more, attend one of their workshops!

Springboard Incubator
The Kraft Heinz Company has launched The Springboard Incubator Program! This program is dedicated to "nurturing, scaling, and accelerating growth" of disruptive food and beverage products. To learn more and to see if you are a good fit, click here. Deadline for the summer program is April 4th!


Social Media Tools
Looking to enhance your social media presence? Feel like you don't have the time or tools to succeed? Check out this brief guide outlining easy to use resources.

The Food Corridor Resource Center
The Food Corridor's mission is "to enable efficiency, growth, and innovation in local food systems". On their resource page, you will find the "latest and most useful resources for the shared-use kitchen community".

Healthy INSIDER Podcast
Listen to some experts discuss the importance of investing in entrepreneurs to help them take innovative ideas and transform them into scalable, on-trend, products. You will also learn more about common challenges faced and how supply chain investment is critical. 

About The Commissary

The Commissary is a collaborative community, providing shared kitchens combined with food industry specific business assistance to help aspiring entrepreneurs build great food companies, create jobs, and strengthen our regional food economy. The Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC) is the project lead and has created a Single Member LLC to hold The Commissary, both corporations share RDDC's 501(c)(3) status. The development of this project is made possible thanks to our partners who are providing a variety of assets including funding, professional services, and donations of their expertise, services, and equipment.

Our partners include:
U.S. Economic Development Administration, NYS Empire State Development, Rochester Economic Development Corporation, Rochester Gas & Electric, Palmer Food Services, WinnDevelopment, City of Rochester, Christine Vargas & Vargas Associates, FL Gorman & Harris Beach PLLC, Nixon Peabody LLP, HUNT E|A|S, M/E Engineering, Link2Hospitality, Mission Commercial Realty, Karen Altman & Dorrance Lamb, and Roth Consulting Group.

The Commissary’s Board of Managers provides corporate and fiduciary oversight of the organization and will guide the operations and management of the facility and its programming.


Laura Fox O’Sullivan, President, The Commissary

Karen Altman, Treasurer, Consultant

Michael Roche, Secretary, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

Malik Evans, ESL Federal Credit Union

Brian Foley, Palmer Food Services

Rebecca Griffin, Monroe Community College

Chris Hartman, Headwater FoodHub

Vicki Licata, Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center

Jim Liebow, Rochester Educational Opportunity Center

Ebony Miller-Wesley, RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship

Jes Scannell, Foodlink

Thad Schofield, City of Rochester

Tom Seymour, LiDestri Foods

Catharine Young, NYS Center of Excellence for Food & Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech

contact Us

Laura Fox O'Sullivan

(585) 263-6954

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