LAWRENCE – Launched on December 1, 2016, the Revolving Test Kitchen (RTK) is an incubator and pop-up restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Lawrence at Northern Essex Community College’s Common Street campus. The objective of the RTK is to provide restaurant entrepreneurs with a trial run of their ventures and also contribute to Lawrence’s economic development. This collaboration between Lupoli Companies, the City of Lawrence, The Lawrence Partnership and Northern Essex Community College (NECC) is a pilot program that has already helped one local food entrepreneur get the jump start he needed.
RTK’s first enterprising tenant is Ray Gonzalez, owner of Coco Rays, a “taqueria borinquen” that serves a variety of Mexican cuisine including tacos, burritos and quesadillas. In less than one year, Ray has turned Coco Rays, a former restaurant food truck business, into a brick and mortar destination for many throughout the City of Lawrence. Ray was able to expand his business and plan for long-term growth due in part to the guidance and support he received along the way. These included: branding, marketing, business development, food production planning, finance, accounting and developing a solid business plan. “This has been an amazing opportunity for me and my family. Not many startup businesses have a built in team that supports and advises them every step of the way. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward and help other local entrepreneurs reach their dreams of restaurant ownership,” said Ray Gonzalez.
After 7 months of incubation and mentor access, Ray is ready to transition Coco Ray’s to a more permanent location in Lawrence’s downtown area. Through a continued collaborative effort, Ray is receiving advice and guidance on next steps that include: site selection, a working business plan, lease negations, hiring staff and planning for the future.
RTK is launching a new search for Lawrence’s next budding food entrepreneur who will occupy the Common Street location and expand upon the success Coco Ray’s has established. Are you a food entrepreneur with a vision and passion to grow your business or are you an existing startup looking to expand? Maybe you have what it takes to be the next occupant at the RTK. For more information on how to apply for an opportunity to be a part of this exciting program please visit the Lawrence Partnership website at lawrencepartnership.org/rtkapply.