New production facility aims to help food start-ups scale up, celebrates grand opening in Inkster

There's a common problem faced by entrepreneurs starting out in the food business. It occurs when someone's business gets too big for the kitchen, but not yet big enough for a large-scale commercial co-packing facility.

A team of local entrepreneurs and an influential non-profit have partnered to change that.

In southeastern Michigan, there are few facilities that support those in-between situations, says Amit Makhecha, owner of M&R Ventures, which manufactures a line of chutneys. Makhecha has struggled with scaling up his start-up due to this specific shortfall, and he's not the only one.

That's why Eastern Market Corporation has been working to address the issue. They've partnered with Makhecha and two other area food small businesses, Marcia Nodel and her daughter-in-law Michal Nodel of Marcia’s Munchies and Scott and Suzi Owens of Scotty O’Hotty, to open the FEAST co-packing processing facility in Inkster.

FEAST, or Food Entrepreneur Accelerator and Start-Up Terminal, is a 14,500 sq. ft. facility on Michigan Avenue, complete with state-of-the-art technologies, commercial kitchens, and a food processing center. It celebrated its grand opening Thursday, Oct. 19, in Inkster.

"Facilities are either real small or real big, but there's hardly anything in between," says Makhecha, who is co-founder and managing director of FEAST. "That's the gap we're trying to fill."

To do that, Makhecha says that FEAST will never turn an entrepreneur away because their order is too small. He doesn't even want to mention a production range, so as not to scare potential small business owners away.

FEAST is currently looking for customers throughout the region, ready to start co-packing products from southeastern Michigan's food entrepreneurs looking to scale-up.

"This is for people who make the products by hand, but want to be free to leave the kitchen and go out and start selling," says Makhecha.

FEAST is located at 26762 Michigan Ave. in Inkster. Interested parties should visit the company online, here.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.