Sounds of construction fill the once vacant building on 310 S. 48th St. in West Philadelphia, but this former grocery store is getting more than just a facelift.
The Center for Culinary Enterprises found its home in this old building and will have a major impact on the food community and the residents of West Philadelphia. The project is taking shape from the inside out as they work toward completion by their mid-summer deadline.
“The conception for the CCE was between having a place where we could train students to go into the culinary industry and as well as growing entry-level businesses in the culinary industry,” said Delilah Winder, director of the CCE.
The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation has been planning and working on this state-of-the-art structure for roughly seven years, said Winder. The CCE has become a labor of love which she is seeing through.
There have been bumps in the road along the way, most of which have come from trying to convert an old marketplace from 1913 into a more modern place for residents to use and enjoy.
The 13,000-square-foot building with four shared kitchens, an eKitchen Multimedia Learning Center, retail space for other culinary businesses and a restaurant, but the main focus is on people across West Philadelphia.
“[The local culinary people] have restaurant accounts all over the city, but they need a facility to bake the cookies in order to deliver to the restaurant accounts,” Winder said.
That’s where the four shared kitchens come in handy. These chefs or bakers can rent the space hourly and make what they need for their business and take it to where they are selling it. The CCE will supply the majority of equipment that is needed, unless it is a specialized tool for a certain food, said Winder.
The eKitchen will be a multipurpose space that can be used by virtually anyone. Winder said that events, cooking classes and even pilot cooking shows can happen in this area.
The retail spaces will offer a variety of different foods for the locals to come and enjoy, including places featuring Ethiopian and Pakistani food.
Hasan Bikhari, owner of three Indian restaurants in West Philadelphia, is the owner of the new Pakistani eatery.
“I know people are going to love it,” Bikhari said.
For entrepreneurs trying to get a start in the industry, Philly Food Ventures and the CCE can help them get the start they’re looking for.
“Philly Food Ventures is that enterprise that will assist culinary entrepreneurs in growing and taking businesses to the next level,” Winder said.
The culinary field is difficult to get a start in, and the CCE, with Philly Food Ventures, is looking to “help small business owners overcome…obstacles, and increase the impact of small, local businesses in our regional economy,” listed the CCE’s website.
Winder said she firmly believes the new culinary facility will impact West Philadelphia in more ways than one.
The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation estimates that once the CCE opens, it will bring at least 50 new jobs to the area and 100 within the next couple of years.
The CCE is expected to attract visitors from around the country when they travel to Philadelphia and the area will be thrown into a spotlight that will change it for the better.
“I think this will put West Philly on the map,” Winder said.
The anticipation for the CCE’s opening has been felt in the community and inside the Enterprise Center Community Development Corp.
Winder said the interest in renting and using one of the several kitchens has been non-stop.
“The culinary community is very excited,” Winder said. “The phones are ringing off the hook.”
As of the end of May, there have been around 700 applications and calls from culinary people looking to take advantage of the building and find their own niche in the food community.
The expected grand opening of the CCE is planned for Sept. 14.
“Everybody’s very, very excited,” Winder said.