She created a new space for aspiring chefs and food vendors in July 2022. It was a journey that began after engaging with health officials from Oakland County as ideas formulated on how to develop space for food entrepreneurs as the population for this particular industry sector outpaced the space needed to shelter and prepare food for their individual businesses.
“We found something that had good bones,” said Brandi Shelton, CEO and co-founder of D Loft Commercial Kitchen, a building she rehabilitated. Shelton created the commercial kitchen to give space to food professionals who oftentimes know how to cook, yet discover early-on that the business of food can be costly. Shelton’s kitchen provides the space for food entrepreneurs in business without a brick-and-mortar, or to food truck vendors to refrigerate, freeze and cook.
“We are excited to offer this space immersed in the heart of the community,” Shelton said. “The D Loft Commercial Kitchen caters to food entrepreneurs regardless of whether they are starting up or expanding. Our space is for anyone with the desire to prepare food that inspires, which is our motto.”
It was Shelton’s participation in the Detroit Community Wealth Fund (DCWF), which helped her business progress to where it stands today. The DCWF’s focus is to empower historically marginalized Detroiters, blending education and programming about cooperatives, with non-extractive loans to support democratic and community-based businesses in Detroit, according to its mission statement.
Shelton spotted the 1500-square-foot facility she wanted, located at 20499 Schaefer, and over the course of several months would transform the building that would become a welcome space for food-based entrepreneurs and culinary enthusiasts.
“Being able to purchase all of the equipment from ovens to fryers, gas charcoal grills to burners, refrigerators to freezers, all of this would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Shelton is using a concept used in places like Chicago, Miami and New York known as ghost kitchens.
“The concept is where a chef or business owner would come into our space and sell food through Door Dash, Uber Eats or Grub Hubb [and would] also have customers purchase directly online for an in-person pick-up of their food.”
The D Loft Commercial Kitchen, which is one of the first ghost kitchens to open in the state, gives budding food entrepreneurs a place to test an idea or call home at an affordable rate. The facility offers 24-7 availability for food professionals.
Shelton explains this is an opportunity for many culinary professionals to share a kitchen with no overwhelming cost.
“This experience still cost less than owning your own restaurant house,” Shelton adds. “For startups you learn pathways on how to operate more efficiently, you can create your own process flows to learn what works and what doesn’t. Chefs can also can also try out different menu items to see what your consuming public would look for.”
The demand for commercial kitchen space (and ghost kitchens) has increased since the onset of the pandemic, and D Loft Commercial Kitchen is committed to accommodating those who want to pursue their passion for food. The facility offers daily, weekly, monthly or annual memberships that also include small business support services.
“We assist entrepreneurs in growing their products, expanding their market and networking with similar businesses in the Michigan food community,” Shelton says.
In the food truck businesses, which are some of Shelton’s clients, she says the space they utilize conforms to holding refrigerated items for storage and mainly prepping for food to prepare to stack in their trucks on an as-needed basis as it relates to event retail whenever a food truck business is booked to set up shop.
As the food industry grows across Detroit and the need to support culinary professionals expands, there is something that keeps Shelton being in that position to provide support and pushing forward.
“You can find peace and tranquility in serving others,” Shelton added. “When you serve others, the things you want or need will always come to your table.
The D Loft Commercial Kitchen is part of the D Loft brand/suites, a Michigan-based social company specializing in entertainment, hospitality, and food/beverage.