February 18, 2022
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – CommonWealth Kitchen (CWK) today announced it has completed the purchase of the entire 36,000 square foot building located at 196 Quincy Street in Dorchester from the Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation. The $7 million purchase ensures a permanent home for CWK, which has operated as the anchor tenant in the former Pearl Meat Packing Company building since 2014. Building on the vision to purchase the building, CWK is also planning to invest over $4 million in building improvements and expansion to strengthen the organization’s position for further growth and innovation by CWK and the 50+ diverse small food-based businesses based in the facility.
The purchase of the building by CWK will ensure that the original vision of creating a hub for small and diverse food companies to collaborate, and to build an equitable food economy can be fully realized. Ownership of their headquarters will allow CWK to reconfigure and streamline operations, invest in energy improvements and repairs, and secure their long-term home in one of Boston’s most vibrant and diverse neighborhoods.
This sea change for CWK was made possible through deep partnerships and support with the City of Boston, MassDevelopment, Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED), Massachusetts Dept of Agricultural Resources, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, and private funders including Eastern Bank, Henry P. Kendall Foundation, and Cummings Foundation.
“The impact of this investment will extend far beyond the four walls of this former hot dog factory that we call home,” said CommonWealth Kitchen Executive Director Jen Faigel. “By buying our building, CWK will be able to keep more small food businesses rooted in Boston, create economic opportunity for our diverse slate of businesses, and focus on equity in the food economy. The work of CWK – launching diverse entrepreneurs and helping them build successful companies – is more important now than ever. Our entire community is grateful to the State, City, Dorchester Bay, and our philanthropic partners for making this evolution possible.”
“The City is happy to support Commonwealth Kitchen’s vision of creating economic opportunity for residents of the Quincy Heights neighborhood by renovating the Pearl Meats building,” said Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing. “This renovation will create a facility that will benefit local entrepreneurs and provide jobs and job training opportunities for local residents. With the support of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the City has been able to provide financing that allows Commonwealth Kitchen to complete its vision for this facility. The new financing will help Commonwealth Kitchen add capacity to the site, create more jobs and help more entrepreneurs achieve their aspirations. Now Commonwealth Kitchen will be able to continue to support food and restaurant businesses and create economic opportunities for the residents of this vibrant neighborhood and the City of Boston.”
“The purchase of this building guarantees that CommonWealth Kitchen can continue its successful mission of supporting diverse entrepreneurs in their efforts to launch food businesses long into the future,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “I want to congratulate Jen Faigel and her team at CWK, and acknowledge the extensive network of partners who supported CWK’s vision, especially the teams at the Executive Office of Economic Development, MassDevelopment, and the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation.”
“Board chair and Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy turned to us at MassDevelopment to make this deal happen, because he knows how vital this institution is to greater Boston,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “$2.5 million in financing allows CommonWealth Kitchen to buy its building in Dorchester and continue operating in it long term, providing needed commercial kitchen space, resources, and support for emerging food entrepreneurs in the community. We are proud to play a role in this giant effort.”
“It has been a rewarding journey for Dorchester Bay to contribute to and observe the growth and success of the Bornstein and Pearl Food Production Center over these past eight years. Bornstein and Pearl evolved from a vacant eyesore ten years ago to a thriving neighborhood workplace from which nourishing food is distributed nationwide, and dreams and opportunities are conceived, baked, and packaged,” said Perry B. Newman, Chief Executive Officer of Dorchester Bay Economic Development Council. “We thank all of the visionaries, believers, funders, tenants, entrepreneurs, employers, employees, and especially the neighborhood for their faith, support, energy, and determination – and celebrate this exciting next chapter with CWK.”
The purchase of the building is supported by $5.7 million in financing from the City of Boston and HUD, and $2.5 million in financing from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts through MassDevelopment.
CommonWealth Kitchen will be launching a capital campaign to support the revitalization of their headquarters and expansion of programming later in 2022.
CommonWealth Kitchen – Greater Boston’s only nonprofit food business incubator – provides a launching pad for diverse entrepreneurs to start and build successful food companies.
Our shared kitchens in Dorchester are typically home to 50 early stage food businesses including food trucks, caterers, bakers, packaged food and drink companies. Over 75% of our member companies are owned by women and people of color, employing 160. CWK pairs this kitchen operation with education and technical programs to support businesses along their journey from concept to established company. Increasingly, CWK also provides this programming to businesses needing support outside of our commercial kitchen. In addition to our commercial kitchen rental and business assistance, CWK also offers small-batch manufacturing, which provides outsourced production to emerging member companies to help them scale, as well as farms, restaurants, and other food businesses.
Since our inception, CWK has graduated 65+ businesses out of our programs and into their own facilities that were still in business pre-COVID. Over 60% of these companies are owned by women and/or people of color. Combined, these alumni employ 600+ and generate over $65M in combined annual gross revenue.
CWK has received numerous awards and accolades for its work, most recently being named Boston Magazine’s Best Community Catalyst in their July 2021 Best of Boston edition.
Through this work, CWK is building a just, equitable, food economy where everyone can participate and prosper and meeting our mission of building a new food economy grounded in racial, social, and economic justice.