One kitchen, many businesses: Café gives entrepreneurs a leg up

In the heart of Brentwood Bay, the kitchen of the Beauregard Café never sleeps.

The café’s chef churns out delicious tacos, jerk chicken, salads and other fare during regular business hours.

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But when that kitchen crew goes home, others move in.

There’s a company that makes scones, another producing shiitake chili oils. There’s a baker of high-energy snacks and now a new pizza company. A soap-making company is coming in soon.

Between cleanings and safeguards amid the pandemic, the Beauregard’s kitchen is a hive of activity for small-business entrepreneurs seven days a week and sometimes 18 hours a day.

It’s a supportive environment that allows full use of the space and gives local businesses a big leg up by reducing the high overhead costs of operating their own kitchens, as well as sharing what they know about producing and distributing their products.

That’s exactly what Doug Mutch had in mind when he leased the former bakery property in March 2019.

“It’s a revolving door,” he says. “And that’s what I want it to be — a place that can help small businesses, pay good wages and be good for the environment.

“Ideally, I’d like the space to be used 24 hours a day.”

Users pay rent for the kitchen on a sliding scale, depending on successes and sales, says Mutch, a former general manager of the Canoe Brew Pub who helped set up the Hoyne Brewing Company. He has a long pedigree in the tourism and hospitality industry, and teaches sustainability at Claremont Secondary.

The Beauregard Café is his model of how a single location can support multiple businesses through co-operation, he says, as companies either prep, cook or distribute products from the café.

The café also opens space to sell those products. Another part of the building is leased to a clothing designer, Andria Paulo, who sells her own lines as well as vintage pieces under the Spruce Clothing Company brand.

Andrew and Vanessa Johnson opened Bicycle Pizza out of the Beauregard last week, and were able to get up and running in a short time.

Andrew was formerly with Prima Strada Pizza and wanted to open his own place, but said the time and money required to do that was daunting.

“All we want to do is make good food and get it to people to enjoy it,” Johnson said. “But there are bank loans, real estate agents … all that stuff getting in the way.”

The Johnsons are producing seven varieties of pizzas, and selling them Thursday and Fridays between 5 and 9 p.m. for pickup at the Beauregard Café. They prepare all the pizza ingredients beforehand in the kitchen, mindful of a schedule that includes other small businesses, and then prepare, bake and sell.

“We are grateful to Doug at Beauregard,” said Johnson. “The co-op experience is great for a startup business. It’s a safe and supportive environment.”

Chelsey Columbus produces up to 1,600 scones at the Beauregard kitchen each week, and distributes them to more than 300 customers around the region.

Her company, Sidney Scones, has 12 part-time staff — many are customers and “moms” — who prep, bake, package and deliver the baked treats from the Beauregard to pickup points around the region, including downtown Victoria, Langford and Duncan.

Columbus was one of Mutch’s first clients and says the Beauregard model has been ideal for growing the business the way she wants.

“The collaboration is great … we’re all in the same boat and we help each other out,” said Columbus. “It keeps me focused on community and supporting local.

“There’s never been any conflicts and everybody using the kitchen is very respectful. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Scones that go unsold are donated to police departments, hospitals, care homes and the Sidney Lions Food Bank.

Columbus plans to start a line of frozen ready-to-bake scones soon that will be sold in grocery stores, including the Root Cellar, Red Barn and Pepper’s.

The Beauregard also shares its kitchen with Vumami Foods, which produces Umami Bomb, a premium chili oil that’s added to dishes to provide an extra punch of flavour. It’s sold in jars in area grocery stores and markets.

Ballsy Foods also produces healthy baked snacks at the Beauregard. The company takes orders online and delivers the high-energy products to customers’ doors.

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