6888 Kitchen incubator opens first phase in the Dayton Arcade with eight small businesses

A long-awaited kitchen and small business incubator at the Dayton Arcade has opened its doors, hosting eight small culinary businesses.

6888 (pronounced “Six Triple Eight”) Kitchen, located at 32 S. Ludlow Street in Dayton, is a food business incubator that provides training, business support, and commercial kitchen space for under-resourced food entrepreneurs.

The incubator held a soft opening Thursday with four commercial kitchen spaces, a small retail storefront for entrepreneurs to sell their products, an e-commerce packaging station, two bakery pods, commercial dishwasher, and more. The incubator currently has a capacity to host 25 small businesses, but may hold up to 60 when fully built out. 6888 is open for members 24/7, and members can rent space on a six or 12-month contract.

Founded by Dayton entrepreneurs Jamaica White, Dabriah Rice, and Charlynda Scale, the kitchen is named for the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (nicknamed “Six Triple Eight,”) a battalion of 855 Black women sent to Europe during World War II to solve the problem of the army’s mail.

White and Rice are co-owners of Divine Catering, and Scales, an Air Force veteran, is the owner of Mutt’s Sauce.

“We hope you are as proud of this incubator as we are,” Rice said.

The project’s next phase is expected to also include a ghost kitchen, a classroom where instructors can do both in-person and online classes, a larger retail section, and additional storage.



“We aren’t just building a kitchen. We are truly building a legacy,” Scales said.

OH Taste launched its Sharpen the Axe Program in 2022, a financial literacy and business coaching course for food entrepreneurs. To date, they have supported over 30 under-resourced food businesses and restaurants.

“(Kitchens) like this are few and far between,” said Scott Koorndyk, board member of 6888 parent company OH Taste. “Rarer are people like our founders, who will be with you every step of the way.

The enterprise applied for $4.1 million in Priority Development & Advocacy Committee (PDAC) funds in late 2023. PDAC is operated by the Dayton Development Coalition. The organization had already secured $4.4 million of the roughly $9 million project, including $1.3 million in federal funding.

“This funding will expand 6888′s capacity to serve 50+ entrepreneurs annually. The additional resources will empower even more Daytonians to achieve their dreams of business ownership. The result is job creation, neighborhood revitalization, and a vibrant local food economy,” Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims said in a letter of support of the application.

Eight food-related enterprises have already contracted with the kitchen incubator, including N’Dulge Luxe Treat Boutique, Passion to the Plate, CheezCake Lab, H3 Energetics, Divine Catering, A Grazing Experience, the Regenerative Farmer Collective, and Divine Catering.

Amber Smith is the founder of Passion to the Plate, and started her small business during the pandemic. Smith, who is studying at Sinclair Community College to be a chef, said she worked as a hairstylist for 15 years, but has “always been a cook,” she said.

“I‘ve always been in the kitchen watching my mother,” she said. “I decided at that time to sell dinners. I started just growing it, and it just kept going.”

Smith, a longtime friend of both Rice and White, graduated from Sharpen the Axe, and long-term would like to both see her line of kitchen equipment in stores, and eventually open up her own restaurant.

“When they first presented this to me years ago, before this even got started, I told them when it’s time to sign up, I’m gonna do it, and I kept my word. That’s what I do,” she said.

In February 1945, millions of pieces of unsorted mail intended for American servicemen in Europe sat undelivered in British warehouses. Unable to receive any care packages from home, American soldiers’ morale declined, army officials said at the time. The 6888th Battalion was given six months to fix the problem, but cleared the entire backlog in three, sorting as many as 65,000 packages and letters a day, according to womenshistory.org.

The commander of the 6888th, Charity Adams Early, is also a part of Dayton history. She attended Wilberforce University, was the first Black woman to be an officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and after retiring from the military, was a longtime Dayton resident and active member in the community until her death in 2002.

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