Food entrepreneurs have a new commercial kitchen in Fort Worth where they can try their hand at mass producing their favorite recipes in a collaborative and supportive environment.
Locavore, or local foods, opened a few months ago on Hawthorne Avenue just south of downtown Fort Worth.
“Instead of making a dozen cookies at a time, they can make 15 dozen cookies in 10 minutes.”
Co-owners Carlo Capua and Cortney Gumbleton said Locavore works like a coworking space, where individuals or startups can rent space month-to-month but with commercial grade appliances.
“Locavore is here to help food entrepreneurs scale their product,” Gumbleton said. “Folks who want more than just cooking at home. Instead of making a dozen cookies at a time, they can make 15 dozen cookies in 10 minutes.”
One day, Locavore could smell like fresh vegetarian desserts. Another day, there’s the smell of pulled pork for a catering job. Or, it could be fresh pies or salsa.
Instead of hackathons and pitch competitions, Locavore hosts pop-up dinners, exclusive chef-driven events, and other chances for entrepreneurs to showcase their food. They’re able to host an indoor event in the dining room, or set up on the outdoor patio for food trucks.
“With the event space here, they’re not just stuck in the kitchen trying to find a consumer or client,” Capua said. “They can actually organize an event here. They can organize their own pop-up dinner. When we do a big event and we need a dessert course, instead of us making it, we’re going to ask one of our renters to do it.”
“We can move the needle from people having an idea to being profitable and making money.”
This solves one of the biggest problems food startups have—finding customers to test their creations. Restaurants have a high failure rate and many times the idea never gets off the ground. Locavore has a team of mentors who can share their experiences not just in the kitchen, but on the business side, too.
“We can move the needle from people having an idea to being profitable and making money,” Capua said. “We give a natural pipeline straight from the kitchen to the dining room.”
Once word about Locavore got out, the phone started ringing off the hook. Some dreamed of opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, while others wanted to go the consumer packaged goods route by selling into grocery stores.
“By the 21st day, we’d signed our last renter here,” Capua said. “We’re full. There’s not enough hours in the day to accommodate everybody who has needs.”
Spiral Diner moved its baking operations from the Fort Worth restaurant on Magnolia Avenue to Locavore and will be the anchor tenant.
“Our stores are high volume and low space,” said Lindsey Akey, owner of the Spiral Diner in Fort Worth. “Right now, we’re primarily just baking here. But to be able to move that somewhere off-site is helpful to the store and the bakers. It was a no-brainer once we saw it.”
WHERE THE LOCAVORE IDEA CAME FROM
A few years ago, Gumbleton sold her house in Fort Worth and moved to Azle so she would have enough land to raise 50 free-range chickens. She started selling the fresh eggs to restaurants in downtown Fort Worth. Then, she got the idea to sell fresh jellies and jams.
But she needed a commercial kitchen to do it on a massive scale.
“I couldn’t really find anything locally that met all of my needs,” she said.
“We said, ‘One day when we have our own kitchen, we’re going to be that resource we wish we had when we started.’”
That’s when she met Capua, who is also the co-owner and general manager for Z’s Cafe & Catering in Fort Worth.
“We decided to join forces and create a home for foodie trailblazers, food entrepreneurs,” Gumbleton said.
For Capua, this fulfills a dream he had since he and his mother started Z’s Cafe a decade ago.
“There was no such thing as a rent-by-the-hour commercial kitchen. We had a hard time finding a place,” Capua said. “We said, ‘One day when we have our own kitchen, we’re going to be that resource we wish we had when we started.’”
NEED TO KNOW
The Locavore hosted a launch party on Aug. 23 at the space on 715 Hawthorne Ave. in Fort Worth, as well as its first Bite Club event on Aug. 31, a pop-up dinner that featured a four-course meal from chef Andrew Dilda. The Bite Club will feature food from Locavore entrepreneurs.
Locavore is BYOB.
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