The Kitchen Archive of Raleigh, 2201 South Wilmington Street, Raleigh, 919-943-7074;

Before I can take in the space at The Kitchen Archive of Raleigh, I’m distracted by the smell and sight of meat sizzling in a cast-iron skillet. Andrew Ullom, the owner of forthcoming bakery-cafe Union Special, is searing a piece of rib roast, left over from prepping a batch of roast beef croissants for his next pop-up.

Ullom is one of sixty food business owners who rent space at The Kitchen Archive of Raleigh, an 18,000-square-foot commissary kitchen with gleaming stainless-steel counters, professional-grade stoves, and rows of prep tables and storage racks, that opened in May 2018. It’s the second location for owner and Durham native Will Pettis, who opened The Kitchen Archive of Durham in 2017 as a resource for food trucks. Pettis himself ran the gourmet burger food truck Will & Pop’s for nine years, so he knows firsthand the need for—and limitations of—renting space in a typical commercial kitchen.

Instead of renting time by the hour, which can be cost-prohibitive and challenging to schedule based on fluctuating demand, at The Kitchen Archive, businesses rent shared or private space for a monthly fee and have 24/7 access to communal stoves, prep areas, dish rooms, storage, and more.

Whereas the Durham location is 90 percent food trucks, Raleigh’s mix is more diverse—and offers a glimpse into some of the food trends that will shape what and how we eat in the Triangle in the coming year.

Meal Delivery is Taking Over

As diners want to eat what they want, when they want it, Pettis has seen a boom in the prepared meals industry. Meal delivery businesses such as Fresh From the Kitchen and Tastefully Served deliver healthy, personal chef–cooked dinners—think Spanish paella and vegetarian stuffed peppers—to your door. Local restaurants are using commissaries as an extension of its kitchens, too. Places such as Manhattan Cafe can fulfill its burgeoning catering business, while others can satisfy delivery orders through popular services like Uber Eats and GrubHub, all without taxing day-to-day restaurant kitchen operations.

More Food Trucks and Niche Businesses Will Go Brick-and-Mortar

Food trucks are a popular way to test out concepts before investing in a permanent location, but Pettis says that commissaries like his facilitate that process with less financial commitment, and that working alongside like-minded entrepreneurs and established businesses can help them refine products and learn best practices. Ones to watch include Little Blue Macaron and its diminutive colorful confections; Baozi Food Truck, known for its Asian-Southern fusion steamed buns; and Umma Foods, helmed by Kim Hunter, who previously showed off her creative Korean fare at Kimbap Cafe.

CBD Edibles Are the Next Big Thing

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabis compound of hemp that gives users the same mellowed out feeling of marijuana minus the psychoactive effects of THC. With hemp production now legal, several CBD “farmacies” have already opened in Raleigh, and Pettis predicts that the demand for locally produced CBD edibles—such as lollipops and hard candies from Medicine Mama’s Farmacy and cookies and pet treats from small-batch bakery Rio Bios—will explode over the next few years.

More Kitchen Commissaries Equals More New Food Businesses

All these trends point to more demand for kitchen commissaries; Pettis plans to open additional Kitchen Archives in RTP, and across the state in Charlotte, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Wilmington, and Greenville. We can’t wait to see what’s next.