Howard Building Corporation our-work

L.A. Prep

Los Angeles
56,000 Square Feet

Project Description

This unique 56,000 square foot commercial kitchen facility is the first of its kind on the West Coast to provide small to mid-size food producers the space they need to grow their food production businesses.  This amenity rich facility offers flexible, affordable and fully-permitted production and storage capabilities with 54 pre-certified, leasable kitchen spaces.  Included on site is a  full demonstration kitchen, small and large food preparation areas, 3 community kitchens, a catering kitchen, 2 receiving areas, 3 loading docks, cold and dry storage, and a classroom space.  The kitchens are all fully equipped with water, gas, and electricity, and 31 of the 54 spaces offer grease hoods.

What makes LA Prep special, beyond its amenities, affordability and regulatory advantages, is how this new kind of facility came to exist.  Through extensive collaboration between the founders of LA Prep, their anchor tenant, LA Kitchen (project link), the City and County of Los Angeles, the design and architecture team from SAA and Howard Building Corporation, a building that now houses an exciting culinary community rose from the ruins of a site previously abandoned and neglected in the heart of the often underserved LA neighborhood of Lincoln Heights. 

The original vision for LA Prep grew from an idea founders Brian Albert and Mott Smith shared to create a space that encouraged community, cross pollination of ideas and methods, shared sourcing and purchasing of resources, and an opportunity for producers of healthy foods to grow their food businesses in a way otherwise impossible because of the high costs and impenetrable regulatory requirements that small business owners often find too daunting.  They worked proactively and collaboratively with officials in the LA County Department of Health to restructure the health code to not only allow for a streamlined approval and permitting process, but also to update and shift the paradigm of the code to ensure more safety, health and sanitation in the food industry as a whole.  They leveraged economies of scale to provide kitchens at a lease price substantially less expensive than what it would cost a chef to build a professional grade kitchen themselves.  They also shortened the time it takes for a food producer to get their business up and running in the space, with one tenant able to fulfill a sudden large order for a major retail chain within eleven days of moving in.