Rowan gets its first commissary kitchen

Published 12:06 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

SPENCER — A nurse by training and trade, Melissa Schneider is at heart a cook and a foodie, who left the nursing field to open her own food truck, Stick it 2 You, which offers delectable food on skewers.

But to operate a food truck in North Carolina, you must have a brick and mortar kitchen, known as a commissary kitchen, somewhere. That expense, which can top out well over $1,000 per month in some places, can make operating costs too high for some new business owners.

So Schneider decided to tackle the issue by opening a commissary kitchen in Rowan County. The first of its kind here, 5 Star Commissary and More is located at 1205 N. Salisbury Ave. in Spencer. The former restaurant is a large space, and currently Schneider has 20 participants lined up — 12 already using the space for storage and preparation, and eight more plan to start once they receive all necessary permits.

She has space for 25, and renovations to open up space for more is coming. The cost is $400 per month, and compared to the average cost in Charlotte of $1,500 per month, is more than reasonable.

“I have always loved to cook,” said Schneider. “We don’t go out to eat in my family. We eat at home. And I love the food truck business — it’s a way for people to try new and different foods, and the people who run the trucks get to know their communities.” But she knows that the added expense of having a physical kitchen can be a deterrent for some.

The commissary provides a space for food entrepreneurs to prepare and package their products for sale to the public for an affordable monthly amount. The commissary is equipped with state-of-the-art appliances and workspaces, including commercial-grade ovens, stoves and mixers. It also provides ample storage space for ingredients and finished products. The facility is designed to be flexible, allowing for multiple tenants to use the space simultaneously.

And it helps more than just food truck vendors. Several small businesses have already signed up for membership, including bakers and caterers, in addition to food truck operators. It also gives these small business owners and operators the opportunity to collaborate and network with other food industry professionals.

For Schneider, the goal in part was to also help bring a wider variety of locally made food products, all produced under strict health and safety regulations, to Rowan County.

“I hope that this does give a boost to the area by helping create jobs and making small businesses sustainable,” said Schneider. “I also hope it will be beneficial for local farmers.” Clients not only have the use of all the equipment available, but have access to the commissary 24 hours a day.

“So if someone wants to come in at midnight and work on food prep, they can,” she said. “I wanted people to be able to use the kitchen when it suited them.”

Schneider has a silent partner in the business, someone she says believes in her and what the commissary offers, but she is the face and identity of the company.

Schneider is not only passionate about food, and small business success, but she believes in supporting her local community, and is excited about her own and other local food companies connecting with and participating in local events. And she is pleased to be giving back to the community by helping small businesses succeed.

“Honestly, I am so blessed to be able to do this,” she said. “I am grateful that this has come to be, and am looking forward to seeing the businesses here grow.”