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Construction begins on kitchen incubator in Sibley Square

City, state and federal officials held a ceremony Thursday afternoon to mark the start of construction on the Commissary Downtown Kitchen Incubator in Sibley Square. The incubator kitchen is expected to open in the spring.

The former Sibley’s department store will lend 6,500 square feet for the food business incubator located on the first floor and include a commercial kitchen that startup food businesses can rent as an alternative to creating their own costly kitchens.  It will also house a demonstration kitchen for food performances, events and cooking classes.

The Commissary will feature a performance kitchen like this rendering. (Illustration provided by The Commissary.)
The Commissary will feature a performance kitchen like this rendering. (Illustration provided by The Commissary)

“The Commissary will create a powerful safety net where food businesses can be tested and successfully launched, said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of Rochester Downtown Development Corp., which will oversee the kitchen.

Already, more than 150 businesses have inquired about using or renting the facilities.

The $2 million project has received funding from New York’s Empire State Development, WinnCompanies, the City of Rochester and a federal grant.

“WinnCompanies is thrilled to welcome the Commissary Kitchen Incubator to Sibley Square. Strong partnerships with the business community and state and city officials continue to advance the revitalization of downtown Rochester,” said Gilbert Winn, CEO of WinnCompanies, the owner of Sibley Square.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, who worked to secure a nearly $1 million federal grant for the project, said in a statement, “The Commissary Kitchen Incubator is Rochester’s recipe to serve up major economic development, new businesses, and 100 new jobs while creating a destination to bring visitors, diners and more to revitalize downtown.  I can’t wait to see, visit, and taste, what aspiring food entrepreneurs cook up once construction is complete.”

The ceremony was followed by a ticketed, celebratory event with more than 30 food businesses sharing their creations.

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