Brooklyn-based Pilotworks is crossing the East and Hudson Rivers to literally cook up entrepreneurship by renting shared kitchen space to food and beverage makers on Broad Street in Newark.
“You can rent by hour, so rather than having to build your own kitchen with upfront capital costs you can come in for a couple hundred bucks a month and get started. Or if you’re a larger company you can actually reduce your cost basis by renting instead of your own dedicated lease,” said Pilotworks CEO and co-founder Nick Devane.
With a giant cooler, 20 stoves and other professional pieces in its three kitchens, Pilotworks says this is the space for takers and bakers who want to become major makers.
“We want to make entrepreneurship a bit little less intimidating and scary,” said Devane.
Pilotworks has five other locations in the country. It says it offers programs to bring ideas to fruition, take advantage of the company’s own distribution network and move products from oven shelves to more than a hundred store shelves.
“The way that distribution works, you need to have a certain minimum of accounts to get in with most distributors. We started doing it to help people break through that ground. So, how do you go from four stores to 50? That was the point where all these companies were falling a part. And so what we saw was an opportunity to bring all of them together and then sell these exciting new products to hotels, specialty food stores, cafes, and it’s been very special,” said Devane.
It’s opening its newest location in downtown Newark on the 18th floor in a former culinary school with the kitchen infrastructure already there. It’s like taking a pot off an eye and putting a pan in the same place.
Sweet Hospitality Group prepared the catering for the Pilotworks community welcoming. It typically does all of its preparing and cooking in New York — until now.
The group’s head chef, Wilson Giampietri, is impressed with the new Pilotworks space in Newark and plans to work there from now on.
“It’s a good place. Clean, organized, it’s good, spacious,” he said.
For those eager to take a crack at starting a food business, there’s Rising Tide Capital.
“There are some people out there that have brilliant ideas, but then they don’t know how to execute them. So we put them in a position so when they’re ready to execute they will have all their ducks in a row,” said Keith Dent, regional director at Rising Tide Capital.
“We do credit counseling, we help you get all your financials together, your projections, your profit and loss, anything that a lender might ask you, we’ll provide all the assistance to you so you have a better chance of getting financed,” said Roger Cervantes, a program director at Rising Tide Capital.
Pilotworks and City Hall have been brewing this expansion to Newark for a year.
“You are in a city that is on the rise, that is undergoing a renaissance. This is exactly the type of growth that we want to see happening,” said Aisha Glover, president and CEO of Newark Community Economic Development Corporation.
Pilotworks’ CEO says downtown development plus existing businesses make this opportunity ideal for food entrepreneurs to literally get in the business of catering.