Food-o-File

Another Austin growth spurt

Tiff's Treats
Tiff's Treats (Photo by John Anderson)

A culinary incubator has growth in mind. Capital Kitchens (1606 W. Stassney #1) owner Trish Wesevich is looking to expand her own business, a shared-use permitted commercial kitchen, in order to help aspiring artisan food makers, caterers, and food truck owners grow theirs. Local companies such as Good Seed Burger, Lauren's Garden Mix, Yeti Frozen Custard, and Juice Society have used Capital Kitchens as a springboard to success, while nine small start-ups, four busy catering companies, and 10 food trucks or trailers book kitchen time there as their commissaries. "Our kitchen is the largest shared-use kitchen in town and the only one in South Austin. There's a waiting list of 21 companies that would like to book the space, but I can't accommodate them. Ideally, I'd like to put in another South Austin kitchen to give more people a place to start or grow their businesses," Wesevich told us this week. With that in mind, Wesevich has applied for a $100,000 grant from Chase Bank's Mission Main Street Grants program and she's already generated enough community votes to be in the running. The program annually awards $100,000 to each of 20 small businesses around the country. Grant recipients will be chosen by a panel of small business experts and the funds awarded in September 2015.

Tiff's Treats is growing, too. Company co-founder Leon Chen tells us the just-completed round of investment funding will make it possible for the fast-growing cookie delivery business to increase the corporate infrastructure at their Austin home office as well as fund their expansion in other Texas cities and beyond. "We need to hire some people to fill out our accounting and human resources departments here, and we didn't want to start scouting spaces until this round of funding was in place. Now we can start looking at spaces in downtown San Antonio, for instance, and consider more outlets in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, as well as Houston," Chen reports. "We've also begun research on markets in other states to see where our company could be a good fit. By next year, we hope to be in other states." With the recent addition of a second San Antonio outlet, Tiff's Treats now has 18 stores in Texas. Not bad for a company that started delivering hot cookies to UT students from a Hyde Park apartment kitchen in 1999. Chen also told us that one ripple effect of the Blue Bell Ice Cream shutdown is that Tiff's has had to find an alternative source for ice cream when it's requested with cookie deliveries, saying "Lots of our customers love their Blue Bell with our cookies. We look forward to doing business with that beloved Texas brand again once they've got their problems solved and are back in production."

Our Newsdesk has been tracking the hubbub at Wheatsville Co-op related to a group of current and former employees demanding a living wage. See "Is Something Rotten at Wheatsville Co-op?," May 22, for full details.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Capital Kitchens, Tiff's Treats

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