BY SUSAN M. BRACKNEY
Tucked away on the north side of Bloomington, inside an unassuming 49,000-square-foot warehouse, is a culinary Bat Cave. Headquarters for One World Enterprises—the folks behind Bloomington Brewing Co., Lennie’s, Pizza X, and One World Catering & Events—it’s also home to One World Commissary and, since June 2016, to some of the city’s best-known food trucks and boutique food brands.
With the opening of One World KitchenShare—three professional-grade rental kitchens complete with prep tables, ranges, ovens, slicers, mixers, fryers, and more—One World cofounder and CEO Jeff Mease says, “Everybody who’s doing anything cool in the local food scene is pretty much here.”
Bloomington Bagel Company, LuckyGuy Bakery, UGo Bars, Uel Zing Coffee, PopKorn, and Kind Kombucha are just a few KitchenShare regulars. For prepping, cleanup, and overnight parking, food trucks like The Big Cheeze also call KitchenShare home.
After losing the lease on its former location, One World Enterprises acquired the old Textillery Weavers building at 2361 W. Rappel Ave. “It was much bigger, and a big investment, but we thought there was still a lot more demand for this shared kitchen complex,” Mease says.
“When we moved from our old location, we had maybe 10 clients who rented kitchen time,” he says. “We’re now up to 25.” Rental costs $14 per hour. “But as people use more hours, their fees come down,” Mease explains. “We want to be an affordable place to build local food culture.”
LuckyGuy Bakery owner Joni McGary relies on KitchenShare’s large-scale production facilities to bake gourmet brownies. “Having access to that equipment, without having to purchase it, enabled me to grow without taking on debt,” she says.
The KitchenShare facility isn’t just for professionals. Private individuals book space to cater DIY weddings and other occasions, and nonprofit organizations rent kitchens for food-related fundraising. No matter who they are, new clients and staff train extensively on all kitchen equipment. “We take them through how to use it, how to maintain it, and how not to get hurt on it. You know, ‘Don’t cut off your whatever or get sucked into the dough machine!’” Mease says.
The only real danger may be to Mease’s waistline. “Virginia Githiri’s making this phenomenal caramel corn product here,” he says. “So, I’m like, ‘Hey, will you sell me a dime bag for 10 bucks?’ Then I just can’t stop eating it! Happens every time.”