Thumb Coast Kitchens opens to the public: ‘An integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem’

The Blue Water community recently gained a new resource. Thumb Coast Kitchens, a burgeoning network of commercially-licensed kitchens available to rent by emerging food entrepreneurs, has opened its first location at Grace Episcopal Church in Port Huron.

And with the re-opening of the former Atrium Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor as the Atrium Kitchen coming soon, entrepreneurs and small business owners in the food industry will soon have access to commercial kitchen storage, cooking appliances, and event space right in downtown Port Huron. 

The old Atrium Cafe will soon become Atrium Kitchen, part of the Thumb Coast Kitchens network. (Photo: Harold Powell)
Thumb Coast Kitchens is a new initiative put together by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County and the James C. Acheson Foundation. The first of its kind in St. Clair County, Thumb Coast Kitchens provides qualified business owners with access to commercial-grade kitchen facilities to launch and grow their food-based business. 

The project, initiated by small business consultant Kanchan Wankhede, answers the need for many small business owners who are unable to run their food business from home or are looking to expand their operations. 

“Kitchen incubators are an integral part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Wankhede says. “Not only does it provide flexibility in a dedicated space for those in the food industry, but it also generates revenue for multiple business owners and suppliers outside of the kitchens as well.”

The first community kitchen, located at Grace Episcopal Church on Sixth Street, is now available for booking. Offering a commercial oven, range and prep tables, as well as dry storage, it can be rented month-to-month or on a pay-as-you-go basis for $25 per hour. For more details visit thekitchendoor.com.

Daysha Woodley, kitchen coordinator for Thumb Coast Kitchens.Overseeing the entire network is kitchen coordinator Daysha Woodley. Woodley is also a local entrepreneur in the food industry and brings first-hand knowledge and experience to the new project. 

“I’m really excited about the opening of the kitchen at Grace Episcopal Church. It opens doors for many new business owners as well as those who are currently running an established business,” Woodley says.

[Read Harold Powell’s story about Daysha Woodley’s journey as a food entrepreneur here on The Keel.]

Next on the list of kitchen spaces to open will be The Atrium Kitchen located at the former Atrium Cafe and Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Port Huron. In addition to a kitchen, an event space will be available in the spring, offering the opportunity for events such as birthday parties and bridal showers to be held at the location.

Inside the soon-to-be Atrium Kitchen, which will be available to rent for pop-up restaurants, events, and more. (Photo: Harold Powell)
“You’ll be able to rent out the restaurant seating side as well as a planned bar area,” Woodley said. “It can be rented as a pop-up restaurant for a day which gives you access to the kitchen, the restaurant seating, and the bar if needed. I’m really excited about the future of The Atrium Kitchen location.” 

For more information or kitchen rental inquiries, go to thumbcoastkitchens.org.