Sizzle’s Commercial Kitchen and Event Space in Downtown Redding
By Kerri Regan
Story by Kerri Regan
Photos by Folk & Pine
HAVE YOUR EVER dreamed of having a huge, beautiful kitchen where you could cook, bake and create to your heart’s content? So did Karen Christensen - and she knew she wasn’t the only one, so she turned her dream into a business.
Sizzle’s Kitchen in The Atrium downtown rents certified kitchens to Northern California businesses and organizations that produce food for commercial events or for sale to the public. Event space is also available for wedding receptions, birthday parties, cooking classes, ladies-night-out dinner parties, business meetings and more. It can be rented with or without a kitchen.
“I’d been looking for a place like this for years,” Christensen explains. “I’m a baker and I like to make things. There were times when I wanted to have a party or family reunion, but I like to cook and my friends like to cook, and there wasn’t a place that made it easy to do that.”
And with retirement from her full-time job on the horizon, “I wanted something that would feed my soul.”
So she teamed up with her brother, Erik, who was the workhorse who “built the walls and put the stainless up and painted - he’s so amazing, and I could not have done this without him,” Christensen says. They opened in March 2018.
Two of the four kitchens are connected to the event space. Kitchen 1 is a large galley kitchen that includes a full-sized grill, six-burner Vulcan range, convection oven, warming oven, reach-in refrigerator, stainless steel counter space and small appliances. Kitchen 2 is a bakers’ kitchen that includes a convection oven, reach-in refrigerator, cooling rack, stainless steel counter space, induction cooktops and small appliances.
Kitchen 3 includes a large range with double ovens, counter space and access to a walk-in cooler, which Kitchen 4 is a prep kitchen that’s ideal for cold, raw and fermented products. It includes prep tables, a sink and access to the walk-in refrigerator.
Kitchens may be rented by the hour, day, week, month or on a contract basis. Dry food and cold food storage is also available. The event space is what old-school North State folks know as the dining area from “the old Leatherby’s” - and that’s exactly how Christensen remembers it. “I had ice cream here all the time and I loved it here,” she says. “I was looking for something much smaller than this, but this is so much better, so much bigger. It all came together when this place was available.”
Furnari Sausages and Shasta Kombucha had been using the space for years, and both remained Christensen’s customers. Other regulars include Lunch Box Redding, Dip Delish, a dog treat creator, a baker, a toothpaste maker and more. Several food trucks use the space as their commissary kitchen.
“There’s lots of diversity here,” she says.
The event space also works well for cooking lessons, as the large counters make it easy for people to see what the instructor is doing in the kitchen.
And Christensen has big plans for the future. She envisions an incubator program to help people who have a food idea that they want to launch, like cheesecakes or jellies, she says. She’ll show them how to create the product, and also how to do branding, marketing and get it to market. She’s in preliminary talks with her neighbors in the Women’s Business Center to get that rolling.
“So many young people are coming to me saying, ‘I have this business idea,’ but getting them through the first few steps of working in a commercial kitchen is new to them,” Christensen says. She plans to open a retail market and makers’ market, Sizzle’s Top Shelf, adjacent to her kitchens where those products could be sold.
She’s also eager to partner with downtown groups and do her part to revitalize the area.
This line of work is right in her wheelhouse, she says, as she’s always had jobs that have involved analysis or organization. And she’s especially loving the opportunity to serve as a mentor for budding entrepreneurs.
“That’s one of the things I really enjoy, seeing a young group taking a chance and saying ‘I think I can do this,’ and watching them go beyond what they expected they could do,” Christensen says. “If someone has an idea of something to make and don’t know how, reach out. I love the mentoring part of this. It’s so fun and rewarding for me.” •
Sizzle’s Kitchen • 1440 Placer St., Redding
(530) 255-8744 • www.sizzleskitchen.com