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Credit: Lowell Nickey

A center close to campus is behind new and healthy options popping up on GrubHub.

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises was opened in 2012 at 310 S. 48th St. as a part of The Enterprise Center, which supports local entrepreneurs in West Philadelphia. By providing commercial-grade cooking and food-processing facilities, the Center helps give those without access to a health department approved kitchen a way to build their recipes into a functioning business. The center has assisted businesses including Sugar Philly, Smackaroons and the 48th Street Grille.

“Lots of people have great recipe ideas, but the key to turning that into a successful business is how you are going to access capital, develop your business and grow at a pace that keeps up with customer demands,” Food System Director for the Enterprise Center Brett Heeger said. “We feel that the Center [for Culinary Enterprises] is really trying to help entrepreneurs with all of that.”

The Enterprise Center’s goals are two-fold: to support small business development in West Philadelphia, and to help improve the West Philadelphia community as a whole. “We help small business by providing support with business development, product development and obtaining capital,” Heeger said. “We help the community by creating jobs, community engagement as well as physical improvement of the area. For example, the building we are in used to be an abandoned supermarket.”

The Center for Culinary Enterprise has Penn connections besides proximity. One of the Center’s most recent success stories, Herban Quality Eats, was started by two 2013 Wharton MBA graduates, Kalefe Wright and Amir Fardshisheh. You may have seen their delivery service on GrubHub over the past year; they were in fact cooking out of the Center for Culinary Enterprises. Herban is currently on hiatus as they prepare to move into a retail space on 36th and Market streets this fall.

“What was exciting about what they did is they really used the delivery service to test their recipes and train their team so that when they move into a full brick-and-mortar retail location in the Fall, they will be able to kick off and hit the ground running because they have strong recipes and a staff that knows what to do,” Heeger said.

The small businesses working in the Center for Culinary Enterprise get this help in-part through the CCE’s connection with the Enterprise Center as a whole. “By attending workshops or programs hosted by The Enterprise Center, small businesses are able to develop a plan going forward.” The size and scope of The Enterprise Center itself also provides benefits. “With an organization the size of The Enterprise Center, we can actually utilize a lot of the businesses that work here. For example, we regularly higher catering services from within the Center for Culinary Enterprises to host EC events,” Heeger said.

This works both ways.

“A woman who came through one of The Enterprise Center’s other programs started her own cleaning company, and now she is the primary custodial service for the Center for Culinary Enterprises,” Heeger said.

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