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The popularity of growing and making one’s own food has taken root in this historic town located in southern Colorado. What the area lacked was a commercial kitchen where locals could conveniently cook and sell their homemade goods. Gloria Stultz saw a community need and decided to create a space.
Housed in a former liquor store, The Kitchen Pantry is like an indoor version of the farmers markets Gloria ran for 17 years. “This is my hometown and I wanted to do something on Main Street that would bring people downtown,” Gloria recalls. “With a retail coffee shop in the front of the store where I sell other people’s products on consignment, I also operate a commercial kitchen in the back where caterers come in early to make their food orders and restock their trucks for the day.”
Colorado Enterprise Fund involvement
Gloria’s vision for her Main Street store wasn’t easy to finance despite her extensive business experience and reputation in the community. She had a high interest loan with a local bank that couldn’t be refinanced for additional capital. Through contact with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, she heard about the Healthy Foods Fund at Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) and applied for a loan. With this financing in 2014, Gloria was able to pay off existing debt, equip her store with a meat slicer, freezer, and large mixer, as well as hire two contract laborers, including her son, Steve Stultz, to help with increased use of the kitchen.
Gloria also utilized CEF’s Business Acceleration Services (BAS) team of consultants for legal and accounting assistance. “CEF is such a good resource for businesses like mine,” Gloria remarked. “The staff there is so friendly and helpful to work with. They make it easy for small businesses to access what they need. It’s been a good, successful partnership.”
This fall, the Kitchen Pantry celebrates its fifth anniversary and Gloria says her business concept is finally catching on. “We’re getting a good stream of business on Main Street with some of the nearby restaurants using my facilities to prepare their menus.”
Gloria also chairs the downtown merchant association and partners with the local human services agency to help families learn how to prepare healthy meals, as well as with the South Peaks Detention Center job training program where clients take free cooking classes at her store.
As Canon City's premiere commercial kitchen for homemade goods and cooking classes, Gloria's learned a lot more about her community in this new facility. “It’s been an exercise in cultural sensitivity and how people work in a shared space,” said Gloria. “Food brings people together and that’s just great!”