Commercial kitchens are a requirement for selling food products to the public and a newly remodeled rental kitchen called The Messy Apron is open in Stevensville, with a second one soon to be open in Florence.
The grand opening, ribbon cutting and tour of the facilities will be from 4–8 p.m. on Friday, April 5.
Kelly Jessop manages the facility for Debbie Barcus, who has owned the building since 2006.
“I’m so excited,” Jessop said. “Aspen Rural Farm owner Melissa Allred makes jams and syrups and she had this kitchen the whole weekend. She had some leftover samples and they were delicious, absolutely delicious.”
The entrance to The Messy Apron will be through the alley as there will be no access through Tiffany Photography and Lydia Rae Vintage Furnishings and Décor who share the front portion of the building. On Friday night, the three businesses will hold an open house and all businesses can be accessed through the front entry.
The building has been many businesses through time and was recently a large tea shop and kitchen.
“Debbie’s vision is to keep small town alive and she doesn’t charge a crazy amount for rent. She just wants people to be in these buildings,” Jessop said. “This isn’t a huge foot traffic town as you have to get off the highway. We were also doing some renovations on Morning Star kitchen next door and decided to do this one too.”
Barcus told Jessop she had always wanted to own a commercial kitchen she could rent out so Jessop went to the county and learned the process.
“The building had to be upgraded because it was so old,” Jessop said. “The floors had to be upgraded anyway and so we got it all up to code. Everything is new. This building has amazing history.”
The kitchen has great lighting, new floors, walls, wiring, plumbing and all the glorious dream equipment of any commercial kitchen.
“It’s aimed at caterers, anyone who does weddings, business luncheons and dinners. Anything a caterer does you have to do it in a certified commercial kitchen,” Jessop said. “Melissa does fall under the cottage food laws but has to work in a commercial kitchen to sell her products in other shops for safety measures. I get a lot of calls from food truck owners because although they are a commercial kitchen on wheels, they have to have a contract with a commercial kitchen, as a backup.”
The Messy Apron in Stevensville has a six-burner gas stove, double convection ovens, an electric scale, a microwave, a speed rack, five stainless steel prep tables, an ice machine, triple sinks for dishes, a prep sink, a mop sink, a commercial grade dish washer and room to work. It will soon have a 20-quart mixer, a food processor and a blender.
“As people need different items, we will take into consideration the necessity,” Jessop said. “Commercial items are on the upper end of the pay scale and as we see a consistent need then, yes.”
Near the alley entrance there is a room for unloading supplies and cold, frozen and dry storage space to use or to rent.
“People can off load their boxes of stuff and fill the freezer of whatever they need while cooking,” Jessop said. “We offer this as rental space to make it easier on the renters. There are some requirements that once you start a process it has to stay in the space until it is provided to the people. We’ll lease the fridge, freezer and shelf space by week or by month as well as dry storage (in a locked tote).”
Jessop said there were many requirements in the commercial and restaurant world that she previously didn’t know about but has learned the details and is ready to go.
“We provide the space for all of that to happen,” she said. “It is really exciting for us. It is not just for commercial use. You can use it for personal use as long as you sign a contract that says you won’t sell to the public. But a mom with a wedding coming up and making all the desserts for a bridal shower can come in and use the kitchen for that morning or day with access to all the ovens, stove and do whatever she needs to do.”
Harvest canning, Christmas baking, holiday meals or food classes are a few other ideas Jessop suggested.
The Messy Apron is a 24-hour kitchen so the process can go on all day and all night. It has locked doors and security cameras.
“We are monitoring what is going on so everyone feels safe,” Jessop said. “We have key locks so people don’t walk in on you in the middle of the night.”
Jessop said everything is up to code, and recommends Food Safe classes available through Ravalli County Extension and Cottage Food Law classes through Bitterroot College.
To rent The Messy Apron commercial kitchens call Jessop at 406-531-1938 or email email@example.com.
“The more hours you book the better deal you get,” Jessop said. “Take a tour during our open house on Friday. I’ll have a fee sheet out and can answer any questions concerning contracts.”
The Messy Apron, at 417 Wolfville Lane, Unit D, in Florence is 1200 square feet with similar amenities plus a globe food slicer, a hand lettuce chopper, a six burner stove and a 12-quart mixer.
The Messy Apron, 306 Main St., in Stevensville is open now with a grand opening during First Friday this week.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Jessop said. “We’ve been working hard and I am tickled to get to work with such amazing people to be able to be so hand’s on with this. I love to cook and this is for fun.”
Bring your own apron and feel free to get it messy.