Food Business Incubator Program

Food Business Incubator

The Food Business Incubator Program offers technical assistance and other resources to food businesses in Cambridge, with a focus on historically excluded owners as well as first-time food entrepreneurs. The program helps Cambridge food entrepreneurs strengthen and grow their business through low-, or no-cost opportunities.

The Food Business Incubator Program currently includes the following:

The Cambridge Food Truck Program allows first-time food entrepreneurs to test branding, menu ideas, and business concepts before making larger-scale investments by providing low-cost public space for food truck vending. For vending and application information, visit

The Food Business Workshop Series offers professional training tailored to the needs of new or early stage food business owners and offers expertise on timely topics in the modern food business landscape.

The Cottage Food Operations Permit is issued by the Cambridge Inspectional Services Department (ISD) and is a type of food handler permit required to operate a Cottage Food Operation in Cambridge. A Cottage Food Operation is defined as a person who produces cottage food products only in the residential kitchen of that person's primary residence and only for sale directly to the consumer.

Food Business Workshop Series

2024 Food Business Workshop Series

All workshops are open to the public, but if demand exceeds capacity priority will be given to Cambridge residents and businesses, participants in the Cambridge Food Truck Program, and members of historically excluded communities. All workshops are free to participants.

The following workshops will be offered Spring and Summer 2024:

Food Business Basics (six-class program)

EODD is partnering with Prepshift to offer Food Business Basics, a free training program for Cambridge residents that covers how to open a restaurant, food truck, or catering company. The training includes six courses and one optional certification examMost classes will be on Zoom and will cover these topics: 

  • Picking a product or menu focus

  • Developing a plan for your product or menu

  • Learning about finances and how to organize bills

  • Hiring employees or getting help  

  • Marketing and telling the story of the business



Graduates from Food Business Basics will leave with:


  • A personal checklist of “to-do” items.

  • A network of new friends who are also trying to open a food business.

  • A better idea of where to find resources for their business.

  • A chance to take a free ServSafe exam training.


Residents who are interested should complete the online application. Space is limited. City staff may follow up with questions by email or by phone. Residents can also schedule a 15-minute meeting with Prepshift to learn more before applying. Deadline to apply is Friday, March 1, 2024, 12:00 p.m. EST.

The course will start in late March/early April 2024 with exact dates scheduled soon.

Previously Recorded Workshops

Below are two workshops led by CommonWealth Kitchen, a food business incubator nonprofit that operates two shared commercial kitchen facilities in Boston and one kiosk in Kendall Square. The Kendall Square kiosk features a rotating selection of CommonWealth Kitchen food business graduates.

Other previously recorded workshops in the Food Business Workshop Series can be found on our Business Development Workshops page.

Market and Opportunity Analysis 

Opportunity and market analysis are critical aspects to transform mere ideas into viable entrepreneurial ventures. In order to build a successful food business, you must identify your market, the needs of your potential customers, and how your product can meet those needs. 

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Budgeting for your Food Business 

Whether you are planning to start a food business or already are in the startup stage of your food business, budgeting is one of the most essential factors to help you succeed in the food industry. Having a well-researched and strategically outlined budget will help you better manage your food business and better perform in decision making.

Estimated Food Business Start Up Costs Worksheet

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Cottage Food Operations Permit

The Cottage Food Operations Permit is issued by the Cambridge Inspectional Services Department (ISD). Click here to start the permit application online through the City’s Viewpoint platform. If you don’t already have a Viewpoint account, you will be prompted to create one before starting your application.

The following resources offer helpful information and advice about setting up a Cottage Food Operation.

The Resource Guide for Cottage Food Operations Permit has been translated into these languages: Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Spanish.

Informational Session:

The Cottage Food Operations Permit Info Session Presentation slides have been translated into these languages: Amharic, Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, and Spanish.


For More Information

For more information about the Food Business Incubator Program and starting a food business in Cambridge, contact Christina DiLisio at or 617-349-4601.