When the Scadding Court community at Dundas West and Bathurst became home to a startup initiative granting micro-businesses the chance to test their entrepreneurial moxie, Jennifer Chung snatched up the opportunity to pursue a lifelong aspiration of running her own business. “I’ve always wanted to start something small, like a food business, probably since high school. It was a farfetched dream,” she says.
Consisting of retrofitted shipping containers, Market 707 is now host to a variety of independent vendors. Among them is Chung’s first business venture, a food container appropriately named Kitchen Cargo, launched in April 2013. Starting “something small” indeed, in order to pump out the comfort food focused menu that the area’s clientele line up for, Chung and husband Anthony must make use of a limited 8’x10’ space. “If you’ve got a second person working with you,” Chung laughs, “you better like that person.”
Market 707 has enabled entrepreneurs with more enterprise than resources at their disposal to realize their goals. “I don’t have the financial means of buying a business here in Toronto. With the high cost of property and the overhead of equipping a business, it’s pretty expensive.”
With a background in film and television production rather than cuisine, Chung is grateful for the opportunity to learn the food business through experience. While both she and her husband had the benefit of growing up in families that owned food businesses, which gave them an idea of what it was like to operate one, Chung insists that, “doing things hands-on is completely different.” Before she started Kitchen Cargo in Scadding Court, Chung saw few opportunities that weren’t high risk.
“For me, starting out, the containers have given me the chance to test it – to see if I can actually do it and if my food is sought after. If it takes off, it can only benefit me moving forward.”
Fortunately for Chung, who has now taken a hiatus from film and television to man the container full-time, Kitchen Cargo is proving to be well-loved by the surrounding neighbourhood. “The business is still new, but it was a really good summer for me, I felt. I started getting a following, getting regular customers, and really good feedback on my food.”
Food has always been one of those elements inextricable from community, which is precisely what is being built by vendors like Kitchen Cargo, at that unsuspecting corner on Dundas and Bathurst. Consumers likewise benefit from this democratized space, now that food of increasingly exotic origins and preparations is becoming available in such a casual setting.
“Especially in the city right now, food is really big. Everyone’s a foodie. Everyone’s Instagram-ing food. There are a lot of great restaurants around. And the food trucks have also added a new aspect to food,” says Chung. “They’re coming out with some great items that are affordable for more people.”
With their honest-to-goodness home-style fare on offer for the consumer ready to cut into their pot-pie, Kitchen Cargo continues to brave onward, to perhaps carve out more community space, despite the dominant cold weather of Toronto.
WORDS: ANGELA BROCK
PHOTOS: SASS FRASER