Austin’s newest culinary project is serving up a colossal opportunity for local restaurants and food entrepreneurs. Atlanta-based Prep ATX will open a 55,000-square-foot commercial kitchen campus in North Austin in April, creating the largest multifunctional kitchen community in Texas.
Located at 1300 E. Anderson Ln., Prep ATX is furnished with a variety of permit-ready cooking spaces, including 42 private kitchens, 16 shared kitchen stations, and 16 spots for food trucks to operate. The company aims to accommodate a range of food-and-beverage businesses, from startups and food truck operators, caterers and bakers, prepared-meal companies, and manufacturers of consumer packaged goods.
Prep ATX also provides a central commissary area for off-site restaurant owners needing a little more cooking and prep space. Altogether, Prep ATX expects to support more than 200 local food-sector jobs with the facility.
Though Prep ATX hasn’t yet released info on which specific food-and-beverage members have joined the facility, a company rep confirms it has pre-sold 50 percent of its memberships across the building.
“Our current members are a really great mix of local catering companies, bakers, CPG, specialty foods, and food trucks,” says Drew Barrett, Prep ATX’s director. “We have some members who are restaurants in need of more space, including some ghost kitchens, and a few national, venture-backed companies. One of Prep’s core values is to support the Austin community, so we are excited to help facilitate expansion and growth.”
The Austin kitchen facility marks Prep’s first location outside of Atlanta, home to its 147,000-square-foot campus — the largest in the Southwest, according to the company. It makes sense Prep, named one of Inc.’s 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in 2020, would chose Austin for its first growth spurt; it’s likely the company can build a similarly robust business here, as the Central Texas hospitality industry continues to mushroom, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prep collaborated with the City of Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce on its local expansion, which comes at a time when pandemic-related restrictions and safety concerns have forced many local restaurants and entrepreneurs to get creative in order to simply stay afloat. With the understanding that many Austin food-based businesses are turning to or launching with a ghost-kitchen model, Prep ATX aims to appeal to such entrepreneurs with its central station, a dedicated spot where third-party delivery services can scoop up customer orders. The common lobby area also includes dine-in seating, and a patio offers outdoor dining space. The massive open kitchen also offers space for hosting pop-up events and cooking demos.
“Prep will be a great addition to the Austin region’s food-and-beverage industry, allowing local culinary entrepreneurs access to affordable, permit-ready commercial kitchen space and flexible sizing options as companies grow,” says Charisse Bodisch, the Austin Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development. “Prep will also create many food-and-beverage job opportunities of varying skill levels in the area. We are excited to welcome Prep to Austin as a fantastic addition to the local culinary scene.”
In the hopes of proving there’s no such thing as too many cooks in the kitchen, Prep ATX offers a co-working space for networking, while also providing members with resources such as ongoing training, education, mentorship, procurement, sales opportunities, and access to capital that can help optimize their businesses.
“Building on what we have been able to do in Atlanta,” says Prep CEO Mitch Jaffe, “we’re looking forward to utilizing Prep’s infrastructure and resources to help accelerate groups building new businesses and scaling existing companies in the region, further solidifying Austin as one of the best places in the country to build culinary ventures.”