What is Pretzel City Kitchens (PCK)?
PCK is a certified, shared-use commercial kitchen planned for Freeport, IL. It will specialize in emerging and established food-based ventures/businesses, helping during start-up and expansion periods. PCK will provide kitchen equipment, processing space, and support services for those looking to:
- Develop new products
- Expand production from home kitchen processing
- Test market ideas before making investments in equipment and storefront
Why the name?
The region has a long history of a food-fed economy – from local farms, to entrepreneurial bakeries, breweries, and dairy bars. In the late 1850s, many German immigrants, both from Pennsylvania and from their European homeland, resettled in Stephenson County bringing with them a number of cultural traditions and recipes, including beer and pretzels. Freeport became known as Pretzel City, USA, when the resident Billerbeck Bakery – established in 1869 – became a regional market force with its own twist on production and sales of this tasty snack.
What are the goals?
PCK, which is community-based and collaborative in nature, is focused on these five core goals:
- Regional Economic Development – support food business start-up/expansion, specialty crop farmers, food-related job training, and foodrelated entrepreneurs in northwest Illinois
- Food Security – provide critical equipment and facilities that support local/regional food production and consumption and reduce dependence on global supply chains
- Downtown Reinvestment – support Freeport’s culinary development, providing locally produced food for area restaurants and assist start-up businesses that could locate downtown
- Health and Wellness – increase access to fresh, healthy foods. Provide nutrition, food preparation, and culinary education and outreach in the community
- Youth Development – build partnerships with youth-serving agencies to promote food business and culinary education and training
What services will be offered?
PCK will offer the following amenities and services:
- Affordable, certified commercial kitchen space available to rent
- Turnkey services to help businesses start-up and expand
- Education and training opportunities
- Opportunities for networking
- Meeting/office space
- Dry and cold storage space
- Space to showcase and sell local food products
- Potentially offering co-packing services (producing food products with on-site staff for a fee)
What is the status?
- Project Team: the City of Freeport, University of Illinois-Extension, CareerTec, and Freeport Downtown Development Foundation have formed a partnership to advance the project. They are supported by several local and regional stakeholders.
- Funding: organizers have a fundraising goal of $400,000. These funds will be used to renovate the space, purchase equipment, and provide funds for operations.
- Timeline: organizers hope to open in fall 2017.