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The commissary.

COMING 2018.


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



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 in 2018. A project of RDDC, The Commissary will be located in the lobby of Sibley Square, and will be the only kitchen incubator facility in the state outside of New York City.

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.

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 will be offering monthly, food industry specific workshops to help established and budding food business entrepreneurs navigate the industry. 

EXCITING Workshop Announcement:

How to Take Your Product from Idea to Market

Tuesday, March 20th 6:00 - 7:30 PM at RIT CUE

Join us for a presentation where our panelists will help you navigate the intimidating world of food processing and packaging. Representatives from Wegmans, Cornell, LiDestri, and Ithaca Cold Crafted will give you the resources you need to determine what might work best for you and your food business. Following the presentation there will be time to answer your questions and meet with representatives from some top local packaging suppliers! To RSVP click here.

SAVE THE DATE for our next workshop on Wednesday May 2nd, to hear from local food entrepreneurs who brought their packaged food good to market and found success. The panel will include Eddie Harris of Boss Sauce, Michele Liddle of The Perfect Granola, Gene Olczak of Karma Sauce, and will be moderated by Paul Guglielmo of Guglielmo's Sauce. If you would like to attend both workshops, click here for a discounted package price. 

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"

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

future workshop topics INCLUDE:

  • Accounting & Quickbooks Basics for Food & Beverage
  • Your Logo's Great! How's Your Brand? How to Best Communicate Your Food Brand
  • Protect Your Business: Understanding & Choosing the Right Insurance
  • Catering & The Prepared Meals Space: How To Build a Successful Operation
  • Labeling, Packaging, Bottling & Paper Products
  • Raising Capital: City of Rochester, Kiva, Pathstone, ESL
  • Time Management
  • Using Social Media to Build Fans and Grow a Good Business
  • Alternative Business Models (pop- up restaurants, food trucks, virtual restaurants...)
  • How to Pitch Your Business




The opening of The Commissary's doors is anticipated for mid-2018. The layout has been designed by Julio Torres of BHS Foodservice Solutions. The facility will be located in the lobby of Sibley Square. Check back for updates of our progress.















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.


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:

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.

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.



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".

About The Commissary

The Commissary is a collaborative community, providing shared kitchens combined with business assistance to help aspiring entrepreneurs build great food companies, create jobs, and stregthen our regional food economy. The Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC) is the project lead and will be creating a Single Member LLC to hold The Commissary, both corporations will share RDDC's 501(c)(3) status. This project is made possible thanks to our partners who are providing a variety of assets including funding, conventional business incubation services, food sector mentoring, and access to raw products for our members.

Our partners include:

BHS Foodservice Solutions, Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, City of Rochester, Connected Communities, Empire State Development, Foodlink, Greater Rochester SCORE, Headwater Food Hub, NextCorps, Ibero-American Action League, Kiva Rochester, LaunchNY, Monroe Community College (MCC), Palmer Foods, PathStone Enterprise Center, RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship, Rochester Brainery, RocGrowth, Rochester City School District, Rochester Educational Opportunity Center (REOC), Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI), SWBR Architects & Engineers, University of Rochester Simon School, Urban League of Rochester, Vargas Associates, Wegmans Food Markets


contact Us

Laura Fox O'Sullivan
Program Director

(585) 263-6954

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