Jennifer and Craig Parshall of Channahon had a dream of owning a food truck to bring some new and different types of food options to the area. Instead, they opened a commercial kitchen where others with similar dreams could get their start.
Having a food truck is a big and expensive undertaking, said Jennifer Parshall, co-owner of The Hive commercial kitchen in Channahon, which opened in July.
The No. 1 issue for the Parshalls was that food has to be made in a commissary or kitchen that is health department-approved. But there was no space available in or around the area for them to do that.
So the husband and wife co-owners took their dream in a different direction and opened a commercial kitchen where food truck vendors and caterers can prepare their food in a sanitary environment.
“We thought it was a good opportunity,” Jennifer Parshall said. “We try to help others open food businesses. It’s kind of an incubator.”
The building they chose, in between Mallard Point Veterinary Clinic and The Office bar and grill on Route 6, was an empty shell with soot on the walls. The former business, a hot dog restaurant, had caught fire several years ago. But the setup was perfect, and the landlord offered some incentives.
On any given day, you might find The Hive buzzing with chefs cooking up a fantastic meal.
On a recent Wednesday, Happy Belly Caterers owners and chefs Cathy Lazuka and Kelly Bailey were putting together what they call the Hump Day meal.
Clients sign up on the website to receive a home-cooked meal every Wednesday. Once they see the menu for the week, they can opt in or out.
The day’s meal was strawberry watermelon salad with crispy prosciutto and a basil vinaigrette, roasted chicken with a spinach pesto, roasted vegetables and goat cheese pasta. Dessert was chocolate espresso brownies with espresso ganache and chocolate-covered espresso beans.
“As The Hive was developing, we watched it on Facebook and were so excited. For us, this is ideal,” Lazuka said. “It has everything we need, and the owner takes the worry out of things.”
Happy Belly Caterers provide home cooking classes and cooking parties as well as catering for two to 100 people, an area they want to expand. Both Lazuka and Bailey taught cooking classes at Sur La Table in Naperville before opening their own catering business.
The Hive has more clients preparing to use the commercial kitchen, Jennifer Parshall said. A food truck owner is getting his paperwork in order, as is a baker. Soon Midwest Caramel Company will be using the kitchen.
The food truck idea still is on the horizon for the Parshalls, once The Hive is running smoothly. Then there will be a perfect place from which they can cook their own food.
“This is a perfect area for food trucks because of all the warehouses and truckers,” Jennifer Parshall said. “Some warehouses are looking for food trucks to come to them.”
Local breweries that don’t sell food will have an option of using a caterer for parties or food trucks from The Hive.
“This is definitely something that will be good for the community in the long run,” Jennifer Parshall said.
The Parshalls have worked closely with the village of Channahon to create new ordinances for the commercial kitchen and food truck businesses.
The Hive is a good place for local businesses to share their information, too, bringing people together to help each other.
“We work to promote the people who come and work here,” Jennifer Parshall said.