Commercial kitchen looks to get cooking

Veteran chocolatier reopens Rogue Valley Kitchen for business Friday
Marna Reinhardt, owner of Rogue Valley Kitchen, has reopened the commercial kitchen off Table Rock Road where tenants can produce goods for sale. Mail Tribune / Jamie LuschJamie Lusch

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.

BUSINESS CARD

Name: Rogue Valley Kitchen

Service: Commercial kitchen space

Owner: Marna Reinhardt

Hours: 24/7

Phone: 541-779-3420 or 855-747-2287

Website: www.roguevalleykitchen.com

Email: marna@sippingdreams.com

Facebook: Rogue Valley Kitchen, LLC

At long last, the veteran chocolatier has reopened the commercial kitchen, where tenants can work around the clock to produce goods for sale.

The erstwhile home to Dagoba Chocolate was fashioned into a commercial kitchen in 2011, and Reinhardt saw it as a transitional opportunity when she bought it in March of 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 boatload 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 and served as a judge for the Ashland Chocolate Festival in 2011 and 2012.

Along with Bruce Reinhardt, who passed away after battling cancer last December, 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.

Reinhardt recently acquired Sipping Dreams, a company that develops, manufactures and sells bars of European-style drinking chocolate. She plans to introduce a "world spice" flavor this fall.

Reinhardt said she would like to have six tenants who would lease on an hourly basis. The first one 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.

Using 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 use of time are figured at hourly rates, and security is provided to ensure 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.

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

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.


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