When Marna Reinhardt acquired Rogue Valley Kitchen off Table Rock Road 19 months ago, she was ready to roll up her sleeves and go to work.

When Marna Reinhardt acquired Rogue Valley Kitchen off Table Rock Road 19 months ago, she was ready to roll up her sleeves and go to work.

Instead of cooking up a storm, however, Reinhardt had to quell an inner tempest as the ensuing weeks and months turned into a waiting game, forcing her to clean up one figurative spill after another.

At long-last, the veteran chocolatier has re-opened the commercial kitchen where tenants can produce goods for sale around the clock.

The space that once housed Dagoba Chocolate, then Lillie Belle Farms Artisan Chocolate, became a commercial kitchen in 2011 and Reinhardt saw it as a transitional opportunity when she bought it in March 2012.

"I purchased it as a turnkey business," Reinhardt said. "But it was not a turnkey business. It wasn't up to code and permits hadn't been filed. Plumbing fixtures had been essentially installed without meeting standards. When I went to make a minor improvement to extend the space, I ended up with a boat-load of other issues that nearly sunk the ship."

Although the location has a Central Point mailing address, the 2,000-square-foot building falls within the City of Medford's jurisdiction. The road to the ribbon cutting, scheduled Friday, veered and pivoted in multiple directions. But she persevered and met all the demands, working with contractors, plumbers, and city officials.

"I know the city workers are overloaded, but it took effort just to maneuver the gatekeepers in a way that was reasonable and made sense," Reinhardt said.

She has worked in the food industry for 26 years. Along with Bruce Reinhardt, who died last December after battling cancer, she operated Immaculate Confections in the Bay Area and later worked at Dagoba Chocolate and Endangered Species. They both toiled at Harry & David as well, where she was involved in research and development.

Recently Reinhardt acquired Sipping Dreams, a company that develops, manufactures and sells European-style drinking chocolate bars.

Reinhardt said she would like six tenants to lease commercial kitchen space on an hourly basis. Utilizing space, equipment and available expertise, a small food-processing business can start conservatively, gain a following, and build up capital, she said. Kitchen space and time usage is figured at an hourly rate, and security is provided to assure packaging and tools remain organized, clean and secure.

Reinhardt anticipates a low-volume client could use the kitchen for about $125 to $150 a month, including hourly charges, maintenance and storage fees. No retail transactions are handled at the site.

The first tenant is Sauce in a Box, owned by Rick Claunch and Norma Burreson. The company produces meat rubs, dips and barbecue sauces for sale in meat markets and shops such as Made in Oregon.

"We're looking for people who want to get busy and grow their business," she said.

— Greg Stiles

Read more in Thursday's Mail Tribune.