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Restaurant Entrepreneur Wanted for Revolving Test Kitchen at NECC

Submitted by on September 12, 2018 – 1:10 pm

Danny and Hilton Torres, son and father and owners of El Encanto BBQ, now located at the Revolving Test Kitchen in Lawrence.

Launched on December 1, 2016, the Revolving Test Kitchen (RTK) is an incubator and pop-up restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Lawrence in Northern Essex Community College’s 420 Common Street building. The objective of the RTK is to provide restaurant entrepreneurs with a trial run of their ventures and also contribute to Lawrence’s economic development. This collaboration between Lupoli Companies, the city of Lawrence, The Lawrence Partnership, Northern Essex Community College (NECC), and EparaTodos has already helped two local food entrepreneurs get the jump-start they needed, and they are currently looking for a third with applications due by October 31, 2018.

RTK’s first enterprising tenant was Ray Gonzalez, owner of Coco Rays, a “borinquen taqueria” that serves a variety of Mexican cuisine including tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Through support with branding, marketing, business development, food production planning, finance, accounting and developing a solid business plan, Gonzalez was able to sign a long-term lease in a permanent, high profile location in South Lawrence.

Its second tenant, Danny Torres, has been operating El Encanto BBQ from the RTK since February of 2018, and hopes to model Gonzalez’s success.  “When the restaurant in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, where my dad was working as the head chef, was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, we thought we’d give the restaurant business another shot, this time in Lawrence, where our family lives,” claims Torres.   “But we were overwhelmed by the numbers, projections, accounting, and budgeting.  Thankfully, I have received the help of the RTK to live our dream.  Every day I learn something new that I could later apply in my business.”

Between the two businesses, they have created over 10 local jobs.

After seven months of incubation and mentor access, Torres is starting the process of transitioning from the RTK to a more permanent location.  In the process, he is opening up an opportunity for the next tenant of the RTK to ‘receive the golden ticket’ to start and grow their food-based business.

The new tenant will move in in February of 2019.

Food entrepreneurs and restaurant start-ups looking to expand are invited to apply. 

For more information, contact Karina Calderon, associate director of the Lawrence Partnership,