Former Educator Turned Food Entrepreneur Opens Commissary Kitchen in Central City
You cannot have food without New Orleans, and you cannot have New Orleans without food. It's a given. People entrenched in the city’s neighborhoods are passionate about not only food, but business too. The entrepreneurial spirit in New Orleans is alive 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s part of what makes New Orleans so unique. However, turning an idea into a full-fledged source of income is no easy feat. Education is the key entrepreneurs need to unlock the door to their success.
Sinnidra Taylor knows that feeling, inspiring her to create Codey’s Nola, the first commissary kitchen and co-op of its kind. Codey’s Nola offers the space for local food entrepreneurs to connect and collaborate. They can learn the nitty gritty details of running a food business, like filing for the proper permits, and learning how to obtain safety and sanitation certifications.
“At Codey’s, we are creating a safe space for passion-fueled entrepreneurs to learn and grow,” said Taylor. “We offer classroom and meeting space, opportunities to collaborate and commercial kitchen space.”
Taylor has always been involved in education. She was once a math teacher, special educator and even an IEP Compliance Specialist. She also provided after school, out-of-school and summer programming through Infinity Educational Advantage (IEANOLA).
“Education is dear to my heart,” Taylor said. It was the driving force for her to start Codey’s Nola, inspired by her late cousin, Codey Taylor, who “fell through the cracks of the mental health and juvenile justice systems,” Taylor said. “It often troubles me that he never was able to reach his potential. He was an amazing, fun-loving person and artist. I wanted to honor him.”
Located on Fourth Street in The Hoffman Triangle, the 1,800 square-foot space is under construction due to roofing issues, but that hasn’t stopped Taylor and her team. They are at 50% capacity in a rental space on Eve Street just five minutes from the original location. Codey’s Nola represents a renaissance of the neighborhood which has seen some much-needed improvement over the past few years.
“We have cold/dry storage, ovens and mixers,” Taylor said. “Because we don’t have a hood system yet, we can [only] accommodate a few, but that’s better than being completely closed. We hope to be completely built out by the new year. The focus now is to bring tenants in and continue fundraising. I’m excited to see businesses and bodies in the building. That makes it real for me.”
Taylor threw herself into the food industry on a passion, turning her love of the Hong Kong egg waffle into her fulltime day job with The Crazy Waffle Bar. Now, Codey’s Nola acts as the exclusive pop-up space for Crazy Waffle Bar. The mobile waffle boutique offers special catering for small groups and birthday parties.
When formulating her business plan for Codey’s Nola, she knew she needed the proper support and education for her fellow entrepreneurs, but also for herself. Signing up for a membership with the LRA gave her that network she had been searching for. Taylor wanted her team to have access to the same support system.
“I joined the LRA for myself as a food entrepreneur,” Taylor said. “[The network] is designed to be connected to a larger ecosystem of support. Plus, I wanted to be a good steward to the food entrepreneurs that seek to establish sustainable businesses in the industry. It’s important to be a valuable connector that meets and exceeds industry standards.”
Taylor’s membership has opened her eyes to so many factors of the foodservice business she didn’t know before. Attending the National Restaurant Association trade show helped her see that her goals are completely achievable.
“I really enjoyed seeing and understanding what others are doing around the world,” said Taylor. “Opportunities that were slated for years down that line felt immediately attainable.”
The restaurant and foodservice industries are pivoting more toward technology for better efficiency. Taylor soaked up all the stimuli of the trade show, impacted most by the chance to learn about equipment to better organize the Codey’s Nola kitchen, and help increase her capacity to house entrepreneurs.
“From sliding shelving to wall-mounted organizers, I found pleasure in finding solutions to small problems with big impact,” said Taylor.
Making a positive impact for her community, and in the lives of New Orleans’ food entrepreneurs is top priority for Taylor. The main goal of Codey’s Nola is to support the advancement of culinary arts through a space that “embodies a culture of community, reciprocity and innovation.”
The commissary kitchen is meant to break down road blocks, and open doors to flourishing opportunities. To learn more about donating to the cause, or leasing kitchen space for your business, visit their website.