Revolving Test Kitchen Heats Up

by NOËL CODY

   
  
   
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  Sal Lupoli, President and CEO of Lupoli Companies, Derek Mitchell, Lawrence Partnership, Abel Vargas, City of Lawrence, Ray Gonzalez, Coco Ray's, Lane Glenn, Northern Essex Community College President, and Dan Rivera, Mayor of Lawrence

Sal Lupoli, President and CEO of Lupoli Companies, Derek Mitchell, Lawrence Partnership, Abel Vargas, City of Lawrence, Ray Gonzalez, Coco Ray's, Lane Glenn, Northern Essex Community College President, and Dan Rivera, Mayor of Lawrence

Finalists competing to earn the coveted spot as the next resident of the Revolving Test Kitchen served up samples from their menus to a distinguished panel this week.

Many entrepreneurs start out as small business owners with big plans, and it’s those ideas that bring excitement and vitality to a community. So, through a collaboration between Lupoli Companies, the city of Lawrence, The Lawrence Partnership and Northern Essex Community College (NECC), the Revolving Test Kitchen (RTK) was launched in downtown Lawrence last year. It supports aspiring restauranteurs by providing them with a trial run while contributing to Lawrence’s economic success—and bringing a little flavor to the neighborhood.

True to its name, this test kitchen paves the way for culinary artists to turn their passion into viable prospects. “I had to sell my car when I started Sal’s Pizza,” Sal Lupoli, President and CEO of Lupoli Companies told the two contenders. “This opportunity allows entrepreneurs a chance to learn and grow without the financial burden associated with beginning a business.” The resident RTK chef pays only a small amount of rent, which is reimbursed if they choose to open a restaurant in the City of Lawrence at the end of an incubator period.  “We want to make a difference in people’s lives, our investment is in their vision,” says Derek Mitchell, Lawrence Partnership. “This is a golden ticket to get access to the expertise of Sal, plus receive marketing, accounting and community support new business owners need to succeed.”

In less than one year, Ray Gonzalez made this pilot program a true success by transforming his food truck into a dining destination for many in the community. And now he’s expanding his business, Coco Ray’s, to a permanent location in downtown Lawrence thanks to the continued support and advice he gets from the RTK team, like on site selection, business plan development, lease negotiations, future planning and much more.

So raise a savory taquito to the success of Coco Ray’s and get ready to meet the two new chefs pitching themselves and their fare next week!