Opening our doors late summer 2016!!!!
WHAT IS FORK FOOD LAB?
We've spent the last year preparing to launch Fork Food Lab, a collaborative kitchen and tasting room located in Portland, Maine. Food makers can become members to use the commercial grade kitchen equipment and develop their business.
Our goal is to lower the barrier of entry to the food market by providing logistical support, distribution pipelines, and a space to cook, learn, and collaborate. Practically everything a food business needs to succeed. This includes:
- State of the art facilities
- All of the disposables needed to cook, such as paper towels, cleaning chemicals, gloves, and aprons
- Our staff is on premises to offer constulations + ensure the kitchen is well maintained
- A community of food makers to bounce ideas off of and collaborate
- Access to outside resources including legal, marketing, and distribution
- On-site Tasting Room to test products and directly interact with the public. (This is where we need your help!)
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
We're in the home stretch of completing the kitchen and now it's time to build the Tasting Room. Currently the Tasting Room is an empty box but with your contribution, we can turn it into a community space where people connect through love of food.
Education is at our core where we'll develop a variety of programming from tastings to lectures to cooking classes. Our dream is to become a real destination within Portland, Maine. With the Tasting Room, we can support small farmers, drive awareness to our members' businesses, and celebrate the local food movement.
Our goal is to put Fork Food Lab at the center of the local food movement, using our space to teach workshops, host speakers, and produce ongoing programming for the larger New England community. We have the unique opportunity through our Tasting Room to introduce up-and-coming food entrepreneurs to distributors and potential customers. Fork will be the bridge between consumers and small food producers, helping to build and support the local food ecosystem.
Fork Food Lab and Tasting Room, located at 72 Parris Street in the heart of West Bayside, has had several uses. It started as a Junk Shop in the 1900's, but became Hirning's Bakery is the early 1930's. The Owner, Gus Hirning was an avid boxer, so he started a small ring on the top floor. The gym gained popularity and in the 1940's the building became Forest City Boxing Gym. After the 1950's, the building kept changing hands, being as used as everything from a florist wholesaler to a boat garage. Once our renovation is complete, that 1900's junk shop will be reborn.
At nearly 6,000 square feet, we already have 30 food businesses waiting to join and room for another 20. The members will include bakers, caterers, food trucks, drink makers, and a lot more. We even have a local favorite, Gelato Fiasco, creating a special gelato experimentation area. Here are some of the products that can be made at Fork once we open:
For the Sous Chef level, the cooking classes available are:
- Introduction to Gelato Wizardry with Gelato Fiasco, September 21st
- Brewing 101 with Peak Organic, September 22nd
- Making Marshmallows and S'mores with The Marshmallow Cart, September 25th
- Oyster Shucking and Eating with Shuck Shack, October 6th
- Tinctures and Elixirs with Swallowtail Farm Apothecary, TBD
- Food Photography with Axelrod Photography, September 14th
For the First Foodie level, the tour and toast is scheduled for Sunday, July 24th
For the All Hands on Deck level, the dinner is scheduled for Thursday, July 28th
FORK IN THE PRESS
- The Grow Maine Show: Neil Spillane, CEO of Fork Food Lab
- Portland Press Herald: Fork Food Lab incubator wins accolades from Greater Portland council
- Mainebiz: Fork Food Lab raising $30K for public tasting space
- Portland Monthly: Kitchen Collaboration
- Mainebiz: Food lab planned for West Bayside site
- Bangor Daily News: From fight club to food club in Portland
- Maine Startups Insider: Fork Food Lab buys West Bayside building, set to launch in July
- Slow Money Maine: GPCOG (Greater Portland Council of Governments) & Fork Food Lab Project Update
- Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development: Vision to Reality - Fork Food Lab
- Portland Press Herald: Forq Food Lab will give Maine food producers a place to create (This article refers to us with by our old name, Forq.)
Neil Spillane is a founder and CEO of Fork Food Lab. He's a Maine native and the former CEO of Urban Farm Fermentory, where he became dedicated to building the greater Portland food scene. He graduated from UMaine Orono with a business degree and went on to receive an MBA. Neil is an expert in business, relationship building and networking, making him the perfect person to shape the trajectory of Fork.
Eric Holstein is a founder and COO of Fork Food Lab. With a long career in the food and beverage industry, Eric began his journey in luxury restaurant operations, working his way up the ladder to management. He then took a role as the lead consultant with a subsidiary of Deloitte before founding his own food startups in New York and Maine, Winter Warmers and The Marshmallow Cart. With Portland as his new home, Eric will keep Fork operating smoothly.
Claire Wasserman is the Director of Partnerships at Fork Food Lab. Previous experience includes fundraising and marketing positions at Chess in the Schools, Street Attack, and the Art Directors Club (ADC). She is currently the Director of Marketing at Working Not Woking, a curated network of creatives. Her focus at Fork will be to find like-minded partners and sponsors with whom to create programming, benefitting both members and the larger community.
BOARD OF ADVISORS
- Justin Alfond - Maine State Senator and Experienced Entreprenuer
- Chris Papagni - Former Executive Vice President, International Culinary Center
- Karen Farrell - National Director of Brand Management, Presence Marketing
- Taja Dockendorf - Owner, Pulp and Wire
- Mark Dvorozniak - Former VP of Marketing, Barber Foods
- Ezekiel “Zeke” Callanan - Owner, Opticliff Law
- Caroline Paras - Economic and Community Planner, Greater Portland Council of Governments
- Tom Brigham - Former Co-President, Oakhurst Dairy
- Jason Harkins - Professor of Management, University of Maine
- Patrick Roche - Founder/Director, Think Tank Coworking
- Heather Omand - Marketing and Business, MOFGA
- Patrick Kenney - Founder and Director, DriveUX
- Raffi Der Simonian - Director of Marketing & Communications, MECA
- Mac McCabe - Sustainable Business Consultant
- Carl Hanson - Investment Advisor, IIS Financial Services
- Claire Jeffers - Food Writer and Public Relations Advisor
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk to the project has to do with the physical location of Fork Food Lab. While Portland, Maine has quickly become a mecca for food and Fork will be located less than a mile from the city center, it will be located in one of the last undeveloped areas of the city. We are assuming that Fork Food Lab will act as a catalyst to revive the neighborhood, but there is always a chance people will still not regularly want to venture down. We see the area as a challenge we are happy to tackle and are attempting to turn Fork into a true destination. Since people will not be walking by randomly, we are positioning all of our programing to be something people want to seek out.
The other risk is in the nature of the business. As a company that has a sole purpose of supporting other food makers and entrepreneurs, we only grow as our members scale out of our space and there are new companies being created that can use it. If there is another recession, or the seemingly ever-increasing desire for local, more artisanal food stops, we will struggle. But we only see this trend getting stronger over time as people want more transparency in what they're eating.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)