La Dorita Cooks estimates it is able to house another 40-60 entrepreneurs on top of the 17 members currently doing business there.
(PITTSBURGH, November 14, 2019) La Dorita Cooks, Pittsburgh’s first and foremost shared-kitchen incubator since 2013, will more than triple its membership capacity with the completion of a $600,000, 4000-square-foot expansion of licensed commercial kitchen space it has been cooking up since the abrupt closing of the now defunct Pittsburgh Public Market Incubator in 2016. The expansion was made possible with a $500,000 loan from Bridgeway Capital and a personal investment by La Dorita Cooks founders, Gastón and Josephine Oría. Since opening its doors more than 50 food entrepreneurs have made La Dorita Cooks their first address—several moving onto brick and mortar storefronts of their own. Now, after the expansion, La Dorita Cooks is able to house another 40-60 entrepreneurs on top of the 17 members currently doing business there.

Building on La Dorita Cooks’ mission to break down barriers of entry into the highly regulated food industry, the newly expanded kitchen space will continue to give food entrepreneurs the resources, workspace and support to launch and disrupt their respective categories. To date, La Dorita Cooks has opened its doors to all types of foodpreneurs, including specialty and beverage manufacturers, meal subscription services, mobile food vendors, caterers, upcoming chefs and most recently, ghost restaurants. La Dorita’s newly expanded shared maker space consists of 4000-square feet that includes four separate kitchens, among them a demonstration kitchen that also serves as a collaborative kitchen-classroom and a cold-prep commissary kitchen with a walk-in cooler/freezer. The three, recently completed commercial kitchens and prep space areas are equipped with a mix of new and used equipment salvaged from the dearly departed Pittsburgh Public Market Incubator and the Culinary Art Institute of Pittsburgh. Members also have access to on-site storage space, shared office space equipped with business amenities, and an event and meeting space for pop-up dinners, cooking classes, corporate and private events. Unlike most shared-kitchen models, La Dorita members have exclusive use of their own kitchen while on site. In addition to physical space, members receive business coaching and guidance, marketing and promotional opportunities, and have access to a networking community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

Drawing from the collective experience of La Dorita’s food entrepreneurs, in addition to their own personal food startup journey, Gastón and Josephine have been carefully unfolding a model they hope will persist in acting as a much-needed anchor for our area’s underserved food entrepreneurs. The original idea for the Sharpsburg-based incubator resulted from a personal roadblock that threatened to deter the Oría’s own personal success after they were unable to secure licensed kitchen space to launch their own for-profit specialty food start-up business,  La Dorita dulce de leche , to market. Determined to fill this void, the Oría’s purchased an old, 6000 square foot Etna-Elks rotary building located in the Sharpsburg Borough that was famous for its fish-fry Fridays. The Oría’s equipped the original 350-square-foot shared kitchen on a shoestring budget of $32,500 with funds crowd-sourced through

Despite La Dorita Cooks’ organic, word-of-mouth growth and limited size of its original commercial kitchen, the incubator has proved successful, creating more than 75 jobs since inception. Its success is especially notable given the recent closure of other food incubators in the city that were funded with deep pockets—to name a few, the Pittsburgh Public Market and the Bakery Society of Pittsburgh, which recently closed its doors this past September as they work on their next phase of culinary business training.

La Dorita Cooks President and Founder, Josephine Oría, attributes the incubator’s success to two things. “The many years of sustainability we've had is very place-specific in addition to being personally tied to our own experiences as a for-profit, start-up food manufacturer. We aim to help other food startups avoid the very mistakes we made. In the past, we’ve also had great success in launching food businesses through invaluable partnerships with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and Urban Innovation21. As we continue to move forward and learn from the collective mistakes of failed incubator models, we seek to create new partnerships that maximize the resources offered by our area’s economic development organizations in both the non- and for-profit sectors.” Recognizing that there is no “one-size fits all” approach in the startup world, the Oría’s note that while their shared kitchen membership rates are available online, most of their members have evolving monthly contracts that are tailored to their specific needs. Monthly contracts offer significantly lower rates than members who pay hourly.

Dinner by Heather , a meal subscription service operating from La Dorita since January 2019, is among the members whose kitchen service needs continue to evolve due to their rapid growth and impressive social media following. Specifically, founder Heather McCormack explains, “Our professional relationship with Gaston and Josephine Oría began on the first day and continues to be an important building block of my business. As a female owned company with little restaurant/food industry knowledge, I had been turned away by many kitchen share spaces and professional leasing opportunities because of my lack of time and experience in the business. My time at La Dorita has proven not only to be well spent, but the advice, guidance and business development opportunities have been invaluable. I’ve been able to take my small 5-figure business and turn it into a 7-figure business over the last six months. I employ several members of the community and enjoy the benefits of providing a local meal service that is quickly growing and expanding.”

Local TedX Pittsburgh speaker, food portrait artist, cookie activist and baking therapist, Jasmine Cho from  Yummyholic  is among La Dorita Cooks more well-known, long-standing members. Jasmine, who will soon compete on Food Network's "Christmas Cookie Challenge" Monday, Nov. 18th at 10pm EST for a chance to win $10,000, was among six finalists to join La Dorita Cooks first cohort of incubation scholarships in 2016. But according to the Oría’s, Jasmine never needed their help. She was already way ahead. Jasmine, however, was in need of a first address to setup her business. That’s where La Dorita Cooks was able to step in. Jasmine explains, “I am so inexpressibly grateful for the support Gastón and Josephine have offered over the years, and I adore the hashtag  #yourfirstaddress ! I hope many many more foodpreneurs continue to come through La Dorita’s doors and make them proud!”

Now, as La Dorita Cooks looks to attract a new generation of food startups in this next chapter, the incubator kitchen continues to expand its reach beyond its brick and mortar with its on-line resource guide for food entrepreneurs, “ How to Start a Business in Allegheny County ,”   that includes the ins- and outs- of a food start-up—branding, nutritional analysis, laboratory testing, sourcing of ingredients, pricing, food safety licensure, insurance, etc... The guide is available to download for free on their website and provides a “road-map” to aspiring food entrepreneurs and practical business tools that will give them a leg up in starting their own food business. The resource guide is yet an additional opportunity for La Dorita Cooks to operate in direct alignment with it’s mission of  supporting the growth of food entrepreneurship in our region's innovation economy and connecting that growth to underserved communities and the residents who live in those communities.

The Oría's have extended an invitation for all interested food entrepreneurs and economic development organizations to tour their newly licensed kitchens. You can’t miss their building. It’s the one with the cows on it, just off the Highland Park Bridge. Ol' Miss Bessie, La Dorita's cow in-residence, greets all visitors as they enter Sharpsburg Borough. To receive kitchen share event and updates, please visit  LaDoritaCooksKitchenShare .
Yummyholic's Jasmine Cho
La Dorita Studio
La Dorita's Ol' Miss Bessie
Full-Service Catering Kitchen
Heather McCormack
from Dinner by Heather
About La Dorita Cooks
La Dorita Cooks is a shared commercial kitchen space and business support program for local start-up and early-stage food makers that aspire to become established, high-growth food enterprises. In the capital-intensive culinary industry, La Dorita’s kitchen incubator allows entrepreneurs to mitigate start-up risk and grow their food ventures in a community of likeminded business owners.Today, La Dorita Cooks acts as a proxy to capital in early years when growth is risky.

Media Contact:

Josephine Caminos Oría
President & Founder
Phone: (412) 307-3052
Email address: