Outgoing mayor of Kildare, Councillor Ivan Keatley cuts the ribbon on Acorn Kitchens last Tuesday, June 27, in Ballitore. Photo: Tony Keane
Budding food producers in Kildare now have a new facility that could help with their development.
With support from Local Enterprise Office Kildare, Acorn Kitchens, a custom built HACCP approved centre in Ballitore, was opened recently by the outgoing Mayor of the county Ivan Keatley.
Acorn Kitchens is a shared commercial kitchen designed to house food producers, caterers and independent chefs.
An initiative by entrepreneurs Tom and Luke Treacy, the facility is supported by Local Enterprise Office Kildare.
The kitchen is designed to offer value to customers, a setting to share ideas with fellow food producers and a place to grow their business from the stage of producing at home to larger scale production of their products.
The idea behind Acorn is to provide a key service to enable food producers to establish their business without the need for capital investment.
Located in the heart of Ballitore, Acorn Kitchens will provide local employment and has ambitious plans to expand the business into 2018 and 2019.
Speaking at the launch, the Mayor said that he was “continuously overwhelmed and inspired by the entrepreneurial talent that I encounter on a daily basis across Kildare.
“We live in an ever-changing society and our entrepreneurs provide a vision to adapt to these changes.”
And he praised the Treacys, saying he expected that they would provide both direct and indirect employment with Acorn Kitchens.
“It is imperative that we nurture our local business people, encourage them, and give them support through the Local Enterprise Office as they strive to succeed.
“This facility, the first of its kind in County Kildare, provides an important first step for emerging and expanding food companies.
“This is a unique way of providing aspiring food entrepreneurs with either long term or hourly or daily use of state-of-the-art facilities without the prohibitive cost of building their own commercial kitchen.”
“Entrepreneurs such as Luke and Tom are shining examples of how Kildare and Ireland can stand out and succeed in a highly competitive environment,” Head of Enterprise, Jacqui McNabb added.
She congratulated the pair “on this forward thinking initiative and encourage as many ‘foodpreneurs’ to engage with Acorn Kitchens who can help any aspiring foodie to realise their ambition.
“I also want to encourage entrepreneurs across Kildare that the Local Enterprise Office will be on hand every step of the way to provide knowledge and support.”
Kildare County Council and Kildare Local Enterprise Office aims to support a community of entrepreneurs financially and by way of business advice and training as they launch and grow. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to contact Local Enterprise Office Kildare with their business needs at localenterprise.ie/Kildare.
Kildare Local Enterprise Office also offers support with export and expansion grants.
Speaking to the Leinster Leader last December, Ms McNabb exaplained: “I see our core responsibility as ensuring that companies not only start, they also sustain and develop jobs. That’s really at the heart of what we do.
“And while finance is really important, I put an awful lot more emphasis on the softer supports such as business advice, mentoring, on any issue — from marketing, to finance or strategy.
“We can align businesses up with experts in those particular fields,” she added.
“We also run a series of training programs throughout the year and networking events. The training programs are different in many ways because we tailor them to business needs of the area
“We do a needs assessment and we look at their needs in terms of their skills deficit in their company — and then we fund appropriate programs to fill those gaps. The LEO office should be seen as the keyhole for businesses to access services through the local authority. Our role is to be the one stop shop, the first port of call for businesses in their dealing with the local authority - and we’re primarily facilitators to access services.
“While we link in and have relationships with all companies, the remit of the local enterprise office is primarily those under 250.”