June 15, 2015

Delta Cuisine turns up the heat with new space at MSCC

For the aspiring entrepreneurs at Bluff City Barbecue Supply, their new digs in the just-opened community kitchen in West Memphis are more than just extra workspace.

“For our small company,” said Pete Grumbles, one of Bluff City’s partners,” being able to increase production five-fold was a real game changer.”

Bluff City is the first official user for Delta Cuisine: A Southern Kitchen, housed in the brand new Jeremy Jacobs Hospitality Management Center at Mid-South Community College. The ribbon was cut on the center June 2 and Bluff City is booking 30 hours a month and ramping up production of their rubs and sauces to meet the demand of its newest customer—Kroger.

“When you’re dealing with a Kroger,” Grumbles says, “they expect you have a certain number of cases, on demand.”

Most recently, Bluff City was working out of a tiny incubator kitchen at the Trolley Stop Market in Memphis, selling rubs, sauces and barbecue equipment online and to a handful of specialty shops in the Mid-South.

Bluff City is an early success story coming out of Delta Cuisine, but the project has been an idea for West Memphis officials for more than five years. John Auker, the project’s executive director, has been working steadily for three of those years to connect ideas, passion and funding with the right facility.

“I’ve just cialis pas cher kept working on keeping things moving forward,” Auker said.

The Delta Cuisine project is the result of the combined efforts of the Arkansas Delta Rural Heritage Development Initiative, the City of West Memphis, the Delta Regional Authority, the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, State Senator Keith Ingram and MSCC.

Auker’s perseverance has paid off—Delta Cuisine participants have access to a full range of professional food preparation space and equipment including a bottling lab, storage area and bakery. The $2.2 million, 10,000-square-foot Jacobs Center will also be home to the community college’s food service/culinary arts/hospitality programs.

Patience has paid off for Bluff City as well. Plans for Delta Cuisine were on their radar screen when the founding partners were formulating their business plan more than a year ago. Being part of the West Memphis community kitchen has been a goal ever since. The company has a community focus and sources everything from bottles to labels from Mid-South suppliers.

The relationship with MSCC means Delta Cuisine participants will have access to business training that goes beyond cooking, measuring and packaging.

“The Bluff City guys don’t need my help,” Auker said. “They just need space. Setting up a kitchen is simple enough. But there are people all over this region with great ideas food related businesses that have no experience running a business. We can provide that.”

Auker is already in conversation with a local teen with promising success making treats from a family recipe to sell to friends. He hopes to soon see the young entrepreneur taking advantage of the space and the business coaching he and MSCC can provide.

When Kroger begins selling Bluff City’s barbecue concoctions at its Delta region stores, all involved hope to see success and growth. Bluff City Barbecue Supply will reach deep into Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee. And Auker hopes that success attracts more food enthusiasts with big ideas to the Delta Cuisine kitchen.

Learn more about Bluff City Barbecue Supply.