Edmonton dumpling producer launches crowdfunding for local expansion

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Sat, Jun 23 - Edmonton-based Honest Dumplings has launched a crowdfunding campaign as it seeks to build a permanent kitchen that would also act as an incubator for up to 30 start-up businesses. Albert Delitala reports – Jun 23, 2018

An Edmonton-based dumpling producer has launched a crowdfunding initiative, with the goal of building itself a permanent kitchen that could also serve as an incubator for local start-up businesses.

Chris Lerohl and his wife, Ray Ma, started their company, Honest Dumplings, about four years ago, selling Chinese-style dumplings out of the City Market Downtown. Their business has continued to grow ever since, making it hard to keep up with demand.

“We’ve kind of made that transition from farmers’ market company to a real food production company,” said Lerohl, who serves as CEO. “And that transition is so difficult to make where you kind of staff-up and build that capacity.”

With expansion in mind, the company set up a Boostr campaign through ATB Financial, offering rewards to those who contribute. It runs until July 14, with a target of $10,000.

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“We’re not looking for anyone to just hand over a donation,” Lerohl said. “We’re looking for people to check out the things that we have available and essentially you’re pre-buying it.”

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The facility, which is awaiting city building permits before renovations can get underway, is a shared venture with another local company, South Island Pie Co.

The space will also serve as an incubator for up to 30 up-and-coming food production companies, allowing them to share equipment, expertise and ideas.

Honest Dumplings’ stand at the City Market Downtown on June 23, 2018. Albert Delitala, Global News

Co-founder Ray Ma says she expects to cry when work on the new kitchen it complete.

“We always talk about how we keep growing and scaling to amass a bigger market, but still keep our creativity and our engagement with the community, and how do we keep developing new products,” said Ma.

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The pair hope the kitchen will help their company make the jump from specialty stores to national grocery chains and restaurants.

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