Last week, underground wild food dinner purveyor Forage SF raised $150,000 to build an incubator kitchen. Forage SF has been an important catalyst for a large number of upstart Bay Area food artisans and street food entrepreneurs.
The last 3 days of the fundraising project were a race to the finish line, because at the time the venture was still $30K short of their goal. And Kickstarter projects that miss their stated goal don’t get any funding. Local fans of artisanal market vendors came to the rescue on the night of June 28, funding the last $10K needed with hundreds of $35 bids, barely a few hours before the cut off deadline. A total of 1,605 people contributed funds to the project.
Last Thursday night, there was good reason to celebrate during the return of Forage SF’s other project, the Underground Market at Public Works. The market reopened exactly a year after it was closed. A large number of food entrepreneurs who were featured in stories for Yum blog and other media, got their business started at this market. The monthly night market began inside a private home on December 2009. The event changed locations a couple times, because popularity demanded a larger space, until it found a home in its current venue. But the city shut it down on June 2011, due to regulations pertaining the use of commercial kitchens. Nowadays, Bay Area city officials have a different perspective on artisan food vendors. So a legal market is now possible.
And now, the financing of a future incubator kitchen brings us full circle. The $150K raised is the seed money, additional investors are expected to provide the capital to complete the project, which is still in progress. Forage SF will then have its own commercial kitchen, inside a 10,000 square foot building in the Dogpatch neighborhood. Market vendors and entrepreneurs could then rent a legal city approved space to produce their food products, using modern kitchen equipment. Forage Kitchen will also serve as a hub, where the Bay Area food community can gather to share ideas and learn new skills.
Forage Kitchen will be a place not just for professional chefs or food entrepreneurs, but anyone including amateur home cooks who for example, need a space for canning their own garden vegetables using professional equipment. In addition to the main kitchen working space, the location will have an event meeting space, storage space, a brewery, a meat curing room and a cafe. Other innovative ideas include, a roof top garden, with perhaps a movie screen.
A membership program will allow access to the kitchen equipment available, similar to a gym membership but for food entrepreneurs. Forage Kitchen will also help users with purchasing ingredients in bulk, and finding local stores to sell their food products. Regular fees will be affordable at $99 per month, or $25 per month for those who only want to participate in workshops with classes on butchering, jam making, brewing, etc.
Graphics Credit: Forage Kitchen.