Spartanburg’s Monarch Café opens kitchen for culinary entrepreneurs and pop-ups

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 10:44 PM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - As Spartanburg county leaders set sights on increasing the number of small and minority-owned businesses, a non-profit on the Northside is one step ahead. The Monarch Café is expanding services to help aspiring chefs and caterers thrive.

Since 2015, the Monarch Café on Howard Street, has given culinary entrepreneurs a space to serve food and boost their products. Now, they’re giving them a kitchen to cook too.

“I have been cooking since I was a little ole’ teeny tot,” said Jervonne Thacker, the owner of Lilly’z Everything Fish and Maybe Chicken food truck.

Friday afternoon, Thacker was making preparations to serve brunch for the first time at the Monarch Café.

“One of the other food truck owners actually told me about [the Monarch Café]. So I did my ServSafe training here. And so once I did my ServSafe training here, Liberty said ‘you want to come and set up as a vendor for one-day events?’ and I said sure,” explained Thacker.

The space where she learned, is now a space she’ll serve in.

“We have a DHEC approved kitchen and so they can come in, they can prepare their foods to either sell in the marketplace, or for catering,” said Liberty Canzater, the owner of Monarch Café.

Canzater started the business back in 2015, as a subsidiary of her non-profit, The Butterfly Foundation. The goal then, was to help the Northside community.

“While we were building it to provide the fresh fruits and vegetables, make access to healthy foods in this community. We also built this café, which also provided a number of jobs in this community,” she said.

At the start, the frequent farmers market and café service resolved Northside’s food desert designation, but the kitchen was mostly used for culinary training.

“There’s commissary kitchens in the upstate, however, there’s no commissary kitchen in Spartanburg at this point,” said Canzater.

That is, until January, when Monarch Café opened the kitchen to bakers, food truck operators, personal chefs and caterers to rent, as a commissary kitchen. It gives them a permitted space to cook, prepare, and package food.

“When you’re in the food industry it’s very hard. so being able to have a space where you can come and you can come and use the system as a commissary it’s very good” said Thacker.

While it’s still a space to train students, this expansion offers a boost for established food businesses too.

“I’m excited about just learning how to interact with other businesses in terms of what they need from the foodservice industry and how we can bring and bridge those gaps to make sure that everybody has what they need in order to be successful,” said Canzater.

Monarch Cafe’s next community event is Saturday, March 18. It’s a farmer’s market brunch happening from 11am to 2pm. If you’re interested in learning more about the cafe’s commissary rent options or other programs, click here.