The Taste of Success: Food Processing Center Marks 15 Years

The Recorder, November 18, 2016, by Shelby Ashline

Dozens of local residents packed the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center Friday night in celebration of the commercial kitchen’s 15th year serving the community.

The center, which is located at the Franklin County Community Development Corp. Venture Center at 324 Wells St., is the manufacturing home of 30 food businesses like Artisan Beverage Cooperative (ABC), Real Pickles and Hillside Pizza.

From 5 to 8 p.m., the center was open to the public, who were able to sample an abundance of food and beverages processed in the commercial kitchen.

Plus, guests could learn about the CDC’s work while touring the center, ABC’s production area and its new tasting room. Each piece of manufacturing equipment featured an explanation of its function, how it works and how much it would cost to purchase.

Mary Chicione, a member of CDC’s board of directors, said the open house event is a great way to raise awareness about the CDC’s work.

“You come in here and it’s like, ‘This is amazing,’” she said, looking around ABC’s production room.

“We have a lot to celebrate,” CDC Executive Director John Waite said previously. “Over 300 food businesses have cooked up delicious products over the past 15 years since the Western Mass. Food Processing Center opened, and there are many more to come.”

Business owners who manufacture products at the commercial kitchen spoke, thanking the CDC for its role in their success. Representative Stephen Kulik also attended, presenting the CDC and the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center with a citation in recognition of its 15 years of “building a stronger local food and agricultural economy through innovative support of entrepreneurship.”

“The services we’ve had at the CDC I think are really the only reason we’re still in business at this point,” said Will Savitri, an owner of ABC. “We were in a multi-million dollar kitchen and we had to buy just thousands of dollars of equipment. I can’t really say enough about this place.”

“We were able to start a business without a huge mortgage,” noted Craig White, an owner of Hillside Pizza. White said Hillside Pizza was the first food business to use the Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center back in 2001.