Coworking kitchen for food artisans opening in Oakland

Bambi Francisco Roizen · April 8, 2015 · Short URL:

Vator Splash Oakland attendees to get treated to tasty sneak preview on April 23

At Splash Oakland on April 22-23, guests on Day 2, Thursday will have tthe opportunity to enjoy lunch prepared by a selection of local food artisans on the rooftop garden and an after-party on the rooftop terrace with expansive views of Lake Merritt.

Both lunch and the after-party will be prepared at Port Kitchens, an innovative coworking space for culinary entrepreneurs slated to be fully open in mid-May.

Splash attendees will be the first to get a sneak peak new digs and and a taste of what's to come from some of Oakland's top independent chefs and food purveyors. The city has been dubbed a new foodie mecca, with the Oakland food scene receiving national and international accolades.

Splash attendees from far and near will get in on the action and will be offered variety of exciting dishes. Featured items include open-faced Japanese chicken salad sandwiches with apple-jicama slaw and seared salmon with pesto orzo and strawberry-spinach salad from The Town Kitchen, made-to-order donuts from Mamacitas Cafe, cookies from TART! Bakery, tamales from Cocina de Pueblo, coffee from Red Bay Coffee,  organic tea from Numi, plus Sugar Knife Sweets and Real Food Cup.

Some of these artisans are part of Port Kitchens, a new coworking commercial kitchen space. Port Kitchens offers a wide array of equipment and spacious workstations to help Oakland artisans and food crafters produce, store and collaborate in a shared environment that joint owner Mark Dessert says is  "designed to help people get back to the traditional art of food crafting." The collective will support its members with monthly marketplace events, combined purchasing resources, and packaging facilities designed to get their products to market.

"As a long-time resident, I am excited to see Oakland take rise in the food movement," said Mark Dessert, founder of Raise the Root, who co-owns the venture with The Port Workspaces. "It is quickly becoming one of the premier destinations for food entrepreneurs. I love the diversity of the people, culture and community here and that diversity is reflected by the wide variety of artisans that are popping up all over Oakland."

Dessert said that Port Kitchens will hold anywhere 15 to 30-plus companies, depending on size and space required, who will pay as little as $200 per month in rent. Port Kitchens is open to artisans dedicated to creating quality products from scratch. Dessert added, "Whether you are a seasoned food professional or a home crafting fanatic we have a place for you." 

Artisans can submit an application so Dessert and his team will assess the artisan's "commitment and readiness to launch their business," as well as their ability to work in a shared space. Dessert is Executive Chef at Raise the Root, as well as a kitchen design consultant.

Applications for Port Kitchens are open interested food artisans can learn more and follow their updates here.

Participating vendors Mamacitas Cafe, The Town Kitchen, Sugar Knife Sweets, Red Bay Coffee, and Cocina de Pueblo are also part of the Youth Food Project, an initiative to train, empower and employ young people in Oakland's food industry.

"Starting a community-driven food business in Oakland was a no brainer," said Sabrina Mutukisna, co-founder of Town Kitchen. "The city is all about innovators who celebrate community, culture and history. My experience of starting a food business in Oakland has been discovering a large group of people who are more than willing to help each other out, and who want to see us *all* do well"

Shawn Walker-Smith, Owner/Tartiste - TART! Bakery says echoed the same sentiment,  "It’s all about the support at a local level here," he said. Encouraging other artisan startups to take the entrepreneurial plunge, he added "It may not happen tomorrow, it probably won’t happen tomorrow… but don’t lose sight of that 'thing', just go for it.”

Shana Lancaster, co-founder and CEO of Mamacitas Cafe stated "Oakland is teeming with diversity and creativity, two of our favorite qualities in something delicious. Growing Mamacitas Cafe here, in our hometown, means meeting the high standards of our community's palette with the social justice principles so many of us are rooted in."

Vator sends a special thanks to Bread and Butter, our longstanding wine sponsor, and Parelius Insurance Services for being our lunch sponsor, and to Gensler, the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce as well as Oakland-based VCs Illuminate Ventures, Base Ventures, Better Ventures and SF-based Structure Capital for sponsoring our after-party! 

Join us at Splash Oakland on April 22-April 23. Vator members can get 25% off by using "vatormember" as the code for any tier.  Register here.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Raise the Root


Joined Vator on

RAISE THE ROOT is a culinary entertainment company which specializes in all flavors of culinary education based events.  Corporate Team Building, Hands-On Cooking Classes, Dinner Theater, Food Film Series Dinners, Interactive Catering and Beer and Wine Pairing Events.  

We want to reunite people with their culinary roots, to get people back in the kitchen and in touch with the foods they love.  Our slogan says it all, KNOW YOUR FOOD!

RAISE THE ROOT COOKING COLLECTIVE is our new culinary community which will bring food entrepreneurs together in a shared environment to create, thrive, market and sell their goods.  It will be an incubator for new ideas and culinary collaborations.  Our bulk sourcing program will help artisans lower their overhead costs which in turn will allow them to be more competitive and realize better profits.  We will also provide opportunity to our members with Monthly Marketplace Mixers, Roof Garden Market Events and eventually through direct sales at our Artisanal Marketplace.

Our mission is simple, to create community and opportunity for burgeoning food entrepreneurs.


Port Kitchens


Joined Vator on

PORT KITCHENS, LLC is a co-working commercial kitchen space which offers a wide array of equipment and spacious workstation to help our artisans and food crafters produce, store and collaborate in a shared environment designed to help people get back to the traditional art of food crafting.  Whether you are a seasoned food professional or a home crafting fanatic we have a place for you.  The collective supports its members with monthly marketplace events, combined purchasing resources, and packaging facilities designed to get their products to market.

Our space is much more than a kitchen, it is also an event venue designed for culinary entertainment of all kinds. Featuring a banquet hall restaurant space with beautiful wood-framed views of our rooftop garden, an intimate dimly lit bar and lounge area complete with private booths and a quartz topped bar with brass drink rails; and our Rooftop Terrace set amongst the downtown skyline with expansive views of Lake Merritt.  

We can accommodate everything from pop-up dinners & brunches, cooking classes and corporate events to live music, movies and performance paired with food.  Private or Ticketed events.