After identifying a need for commercial kitchen access for food entrepreneurs in Durham, Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, a licensed contractor and co-owner of Bull City Restoration, decided to breathe new life into what once was the Durham Food Co-op building in 2011. The kitchen concept quickly transformed, and Rochelle Johnson, an artist turned entrepreneur, resigned from her graphic design and marketing business, Row Design Studios, to dedicate her career to The Cookery.

Utilizing Nick’s entrepreneurial instincts and an “anything is possible” attitude, as well as Rochelle’s marketing and design talents to craft a recognizable and cohesive brand, this husband and wife partnership built a culinary incubator that uses the collaboration of many businesses to create new experiences and products that revolve around food.

The Cookery is now considered a culinary hub - in addition to providing commercial kitchen space for rent by the hour, it offers small food business consultation to countless member businesses, and a beautiful event space, the Front Room.

The Front Room offers limitless possibilities for the local food scene and the exploration of new culinary concepts, and is also the special place where countless people have married and hosted wedding celebrations with friends and family.

Since the inception of The Cookery, the Johnsons have teamed up with new partners to expand their interests in hospitality. Cast Iron Group encompasses a variety of businesses and partnerships, including Dashi, a ramen shop and izakaya in downtown Durham, and Ponysaurus Brewing Co., a Durham based brewery and taproom.

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