Jonas Singer, Union Kitchen
Jonas Singer, Union Kitchen Credit: Darrow Montgomery

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If D.C. felt a little more like Brooklyn this year, with the debut of countless artisan food products, it’s in large part because of Union Kitchen. The food incubator and shared kitchen space founded by Blind Dog Cafe owners Jonas Singer and Cullen Gilchrist provides a venue and resources for food entrepreneurs to get their start. Union Kitchen now has about 30 full members—including ice cream sandwich producer Milk Cult, macaron maker Patisserie DC, and Runningbyrd Tea company—plus nearly 20 more that also take advantage of its space. Other food incubators are popping up, too. Think Local First DC teamed up with Domku owner Kera Carpenter and her nonprofit NURISH: The Center for a Creative Culinary Economy to launch StartUp Kitchen, where food entrepreneurs work with industry vets to test-drive their business plans. Meanwhile, kimchi producer Katy Chang is in the process of turning a Petworth rowhouse into a community kitchen, “pop-uppery,” and market called EatsPlace where chefs can test new concepts and small businesses can prepare products. Before these incubators, D.C. lacked affordable professional kitchen space. Some businesses worked midnight shifts in empty restaurant kitchens or ventured to Gaithersburg or Manassas to find adequate spots. Now it’s easy to find many food labels bragging D.C.-made.