With gloved hands, Kenny Brown mixed dry oats, nuts and salt before adding in a wet mix mostly made of honey.
"It's fun, and it's exercise," he said, as his forearms flexed while he worked through the firm ingredients.
The production manager of York-based Nuts About Granola then pressed the moist mix onto sheet pans to bake in YorKitchen's commercial ovens for nine minutes.
Once the pans come out of the oven, the granola is laid out on clean, stainless steel tables to cool.
Then, Evan Himes, chief operating officer, begins to add in dried cherries and blackberries before it is shipped in 25-pound cartons to fulfill a food contract in Rochester, N.Y. for Alpina Foods' Revive, a Greek yogurt line.
Before using the shared commercial kitchen, which is attached to the back of Central Market at 37 W. Clarke Ave., the company produced between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of granola a month, according to co-owner Sarah Lanphier, an Elizabethtown College graduate who started the company with her mother, Gayle Lanphier, in 2008.
Now, it produces 1,000 pounds a day, she said.
And soon it will produce even more, as the company has also landed a deal to be
sold in Whole Foods in Baltimore, she said.
"We couldn't have done any of this without the kitchen," she said.
Expanding businesses: Nuts About Granola is one of nine businesses that have expanded by using the kitchen, according to kitchen coordinator Aeman Bashir.
Fifteen new businesses have launched as a result of using the kitchen, 34 jobs have been created, 20 organizations have used the kitchen, 19 users have rented it as a performance kitchen, five companies have held classes there, five businesses use it for storage only, and 11 other food businesses are in the works, she said.
Those statistics are a pleasant surprise, she said.
"We really didn't know what to expect when the kitchen opened. We're extremely pleased," she said.
Grant: The commercial kitchen was launched last July with a $99,000 USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant covering the cost of developing the space.
It can be rented for $25 an hour, helping entrepreneurs make their food business dreams a reality without the high costs associated with purchasing commercial kitchen equipment, Bashir explained.
When Tom Williams, state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, toured the facility last month to check on the investment, he said it was a great project and investment in rural America that has helped create jobs in a small town.
"We're ready to continue our support for programs like this," Williams said, inviting Bashir to ask for more money.
When the nonprofit can come up with matching funds, Bashir said, she'd like to expand the kitchen's offerings by having packaging equipment, bag sealers, bottle fillers and weights for dry goods.
Those items would further foster success among users of the kitchen, she said.
And more than the number of companies the kitchen has churned out, Bashir feels good about YorKitchen users who have found success.
"I feel what is almost a parental pride, seeing where they started from and knowing they are now achieving their dreams," she said.
Next users: Monica and Tony Joyner will be the next users of the kitchen, as the co-owners of Sugar, Spice and Everything Ice set out to fulfill some of their dreams.
The makers of ice cream cakes and ice cream cupcakes are contacting venues and wholesalers to line up contracts in local markets, Tony Joyner said.
It started out as a hobby for the couple. Monica Joyner started making the desserts for gatherings with family and friends.
"The feedback was always positive. People would rave about them, and we realized we had something to offer," Tony Joyner said.
YorKitchen will make it possible to turn that hobby into a business, he said.
"If you're going to sell a product to the public, you have to make it in a commercial kitchen setting. (YorKitchen) allows us to do that without the high costs and overhead of owning a commercial kitchen. It enables us to start right away, and the equipment will make it possible for us to manufacture more at a time," he said.
Growing: It's Bashir's hope that kitchen users like Sugar, Spice and Everything Ice will eventually grow out of the shared space.
That's essentially what happened for Just Cupcakes, which grew out of its Central Market digs and now has its own storefront along West Philadelphia Street.
But owner Chris Martin said she still uses YorKitchen for storage, even though she now has her own commercial kitchen for baking.
"It's a great help to us, and it's great for any new business that needs a professional kitchen. It's a great facility to have in the city," she said.
If you go:YorKitchen will host a one-year anniversary celebration from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday at 37 W. Clarke Ave., where tenants will speak about their experience with the kitchen.
Since last year, the kitchen has had 55 unique users, started 15 new businesses, expanded nine businesses and created 34 jobs in York County.
-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.