'This is like my happy, happy space': Upstart Kitchen provides platform for culinary success in Milwaukee

NOW: ’This is like my happy, happy space’: Upstart Kitchen provides platform for culinary success in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Tajma Hall visits the Upstart Kitchen in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood. The shared commercial kitchen space is a new way for small businesses to break into the food service industry.

Titi Lagundoye is the woman behind Taste of Africa. "I love to cook because you know my parents, when I was little, they made sure that we all know how to cook. We all were in the kitchen helping my mom," she said.

Each week, Titi is in the kitchen stirring and seasoning her passion for cooking into tasty dishes she serves and sells through her business.
"I'm from Nigeria so I came here. I decided to start my own business. Cooking because I love cooking so that's how Taste of Africa started," she said. And 35 years later, she's still serving her dishes.

"We used to have a restaurant way in the days on 48th and Capitol. An accident happened and we had to shut down," she said. Losing her restaurant space could have been a huge blow to her business until she came to Upstart Kitchen. Located near the corner of Fond du Lac and Sherman Blvd, right next to the Sherman Park Grocery store, Upstart Kitchen is a shared commercial kitchen space.

A lot of what's produced in this kitchen is sold right next door. Upstart opened just before the pandemic, and it's been a vital resource for dozens of entrepreneurs over the last several years, giving them a space to work to turn their passions into profitable businesses.

Rosha Brister is another entrepreneur here. She's the founder of Style Pop Café. Style Pop Café is a coffee brand, a coffee creamer brand and a café that'll be opening in Walker's Point.

As she prepares to open her physical café space, she says there's no downside to Upstart. This space has been a helpful part of her journey as an entrepreneur.

"This is my space to make all of my coffee creamers, make all of my coffee products, cold brews that we also have in the Sherman Park grocery store," she said.

In addition to the commercial kitchen space, being a tenant here also means unlimited access to resources to help keep your business growing. Upstart kitchen is operated by Prism EDC, a community based economic development organization. Entrepreneurs are given help with marketing, planning, licensing and more.

Nesha Beamon is the owner of Pound 4 Pound Cakes by Nesha. "This is like my happy, happy space," she said.

Nesha says without Upstart Kitchen, she wouldn't be able to run her business. "In order to operate properly and legally, you have to have a commercial kitchen," she said. Nesha's delicious cakes are made at Upstart Kitchen.

"I think the most special part of it us my grandmother's recipe and its authentic, its homemade…it's not a box thing…it's from scratch and it's from my heart," she said.

Like the other entrepreneurs here, Nesha says Upstart is filling so many needs in the community and making it possible for small businesses in the neighborhood to have control over their own futures.

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