UpStart Kitchen was scheduled to open this spring but pushed back its launch because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The food incubator for food entrepreneurs, UpStart Kitchen at 4325 W. Fond du Lac Ave., celebrated its official launch Sept. 15.

Since pushing back its opening, the commercial kitchen and business incubator in the Sherman Park neighborhood has been serving meals to people facing food insecurity.

UpStart Kitchen served as a meal production center for people who are homebound or food insecure throughout the spring and summer. It has served more than 25,000 meals since April. 

The kitchen has food storage and preparation space and offers support services like mentoring and community connections. The 24-hour kitchen can accommodate up to 40 entrepreneurs. 

The goal is to help aspiring food entrepreneurs start and grow businesses by using shared kitchen equipment on-site, instead of them having to make up-front investments in such things as commercial-grade ovens, grills and refrigeration. 

UpStart Kitchen has already helped 20 entrepreneurs earn licenses from the City of Milwaukee to use the kitchen. Another 20 entrepreneurs are in the process of approval. Around 75 entrepreneurs are on the waiting list. 

UpStart Kitchen is a project of Prism Economic Development Corp., an economic growth organization for the Sherman Park neighborhood. 

The project was funded in part with a $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

The UpStart Kitchen Emergency Meals program continues. Ascension Wisconsin has donated $50,000 to the kitchen to provide more than 6,000 meals a month through the end of the year. 

“The opening of the new UpStart Kitchen is an extremely critical addition for the residents of our community because it offers both an excellent place to purchase meals while also supporting their fellow members of the community by shopping at local small businesses,” said Ald. Khalif Rainey in a statement. “The potential this project has to grow local businesses in our community is unlike anything we have seen thus far, and I am beyond excited to welcome the new vendors at UpStart Kitchen and the partners at Prism EDC to the 7th District.”

Sarah Hauer can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram @HauerSarah and Twitter @SarahHauer. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter Be MKE at 

Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at

Read or Share this story: