Meet Kitchen Sync, A Culinary Incubator For Food Startups


If you’re new to the food business in Hong Kong, you probably find the sky-high costs of setting up a commercially licensed kitchen daunting to say the least. If you’re a small food entrepreneur, shelling out HK$1million for a food factory license is a less than ideal roadblock. So what’s a young upstart looking to make their mark in Hong Kong’s food scene to do?

For starters, they should meet Kitchen Sync, a culinary incubator created by Lori and Patrick Granito – a pair of local restaurant industry veterans. Likely the first of its kind in Asia, Kitchen Sync is a shared space in support of artisanal and ethnic foodpreneurs looking to create, perfect and test run their product in a professional kitchen.

Initially inspired by local tech incubator CoCoon, Kitchen Sync operates as a launch pad where food startups can grow their business until they’re ready to move up in the world. On top of professional space rental, Kitchen Sync also serves up business services such as food sourcing aid and mentorship from a pair of seasoned restaurateurs.


Patrick and Lori Granito, local food scene veterans

“We’ve been in Hong Kong for over 20 years,” says Lori. “We’ve had a lot of successes and a few failures, so we’d like to give people advice so they can avoid making some of the mistakes as well – which is where the mentoring comes in.”

Lori, who heads up Go Gourmet and Magnolia is no stranger to the food scene – having catered exclusive gigs for the likes of Kanye West and the Rolling Stones. And her husband Patrick, formerly the chef de partie at a couple 3-star Michelin restaurants in France, has also held executive chef posts at the Excelsior Hotel and Café Deco Group in Hong Kong.

The culinary power couple, who met in New Orleans, have been at the helm of many food ventures in the city – including The Bayou, which was one of the few restaurants in trendy Soho, before it was Soho. Having grown successful food businesses in Soho and Sheung Wan, two previously up-and-coming and now gentrified districts, Lori shares her experiences with the dreaded rent increase.

“We’ve been the victim of [it] many times, we’ve had businesses close because of it,” reveals Lori. “By the time we had left Soho, the tenants in our old space now pay 250% more than what we used to pay, and when we came into this space [in Sheung Wan] eight years ago, there was nothing here – now it’s the hip and trendy area, so my rent has gone up!”

While rents skyrocketing as a result of new “up and coming districts” may be a pain for small businesses, it’s also noteworthy that hip and trendy zones are excellent breeding grounds for exciting new food ventures. According to Patrick, some Hong Kong districts like Sheung Wan, have been undergoing an interesting food movement within the past year where pop-up shops and artisanal food stores are beginning to crop up.

And for the Sheung Wan-based Kitchen Sync, which is just a six-month old concept, proof of this burgeoning food movement is in the growing list of niche foodpreneurs clamoring to become a member. “Kitchen Sync is one big kitchen, but has different stations depending on their business [whether it’s] raw food, cakes, sour kraut, bento boxes or German bread,” explains Patrick, listing out some of the small food businesses that are currently or will be tapping into the culinary incubator’s resources.

Ultimately, Lori and Patrick Granito hope that incubating with Kitchen Sync will help local startups get their bearings in an exceptionally cutthroat business. Starting a business, no matter what industry, requires fearlessness and the Granitos advise startups to take the plunge and seize the moment.

“Just go for it, you only live once,” says Lori passionately. “I would rather wake up 90-years-old with 15 failed businesses behind me but with one that did well, than have 15 ideas that I never did anything about.’” Patrick also echoes her sentiment and urges small business owners to get started now: “if you believe in your concept and you’re excited about it – go for it!”

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