Gwynne Ann Unruh is an award-winning reporter formerly of the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado. She covers the environment for The Paper.

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From Shanghai to Mexico City, if you travel the world, street food is a part of your cultural experience. Street food is prepared or cooked food sold by vendors in a street or other public location for immediate consumption. It’s becoming big business in the US for small start ups. Between 2017 – 2022 the number of businesses in the Street Vendors industry in the US has grown an average of 14.1 percent per year.

Food trucks are flourishing in Albuquerque’s culinary scene, offering a flavorful proliferation of international flavors and unique new food concepts — without the wait of a sit-down restaurant. With the abundance of fresh ingredients available locally, and our beaucoup clear sunny days, Albuquerque is a city where the street vendor industry is thriving and many offerings can rival the finest restaurants. Street food provides a delicious and healthy food option available at a much cheaper price.

To support this growing industry, the Street Food Institute of Albuquerque and Homewise have joined together to create an incubator and kitchen space for food entrepreneurs in a new development in Albuquerque’s Barelas neighborhood. The new space will provide a place where, with support staff and equipment, new small-food entrepreneurs can work on, and advance their innovative business ideas.

The Street Food Institute (SFI) is a nonprofit based in Albuquerque that supports fresh food companies. SFI supports community development and education in the growing opportunities emerging in today’s street food revolution. They have two programs they provide: one for Central New Mexico Community College and another for those interested in starting their own business.

Homewise is a home-ownership organization with offices in both Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Their partnership in the development venture will help people to realize their dream of owning and operating a successful food service business.

The new building would be located on a lot just north of the Barelas Coffee House at the intersection of 4th St. and Bell Ave. The first floor of the development would house the Street Food Institute’s kitchen space. Three kitchens will occupy the new SFI space, one of which would be for baking.

The SFI kitchens would help fill the shortage for low cost commercial-grade commissary kitchens where people can prepare food products in the Albuquerque area. Supported by SFI, the health-department approved kitchens would act as an incubator for food entrepreneurs to express their culinary skills and develop their businesses. The second floor of the 10,000-square-foot building would have nine commercial spaces.

In February, Albuquerque’s Environmental Planning Commission approved a rezoning for the land where the new development would be located. Preliminary plans for the development were approved and the building should be completed by summer 2023. In EPC filings, letters in support of Homewise’s rezoning and development proposal were written by officials from the Rail Yards Market of Albuquerque and the Street Food Institute.

The street-food revolution is well underway and it’s picking up speed at a remarkable pace. For those eager to get started on a career, or grow their existing business in creative food service, SFI’s new accommodations offer an opportunity to get the support they need. Whether it’s served from a two-wheel cart, a pop-up booth or a full-blown kitchen on wheels, more street food is coming right up.