September 20, 2018
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Kitchen for food startups in Portland to close

Kathleen Pierce | BDN
Kathleen Pierce | BDN
Bruno Tropeano of Gelato Fiasco holds out a cup of an experimental gelato flavor outside the Fork Food Lab in this 2016 BDN file photo. The lab, which offered a commercial kitchen where food startups could get established, will close down this fall, according to its parent company.
By Jake Bleiberg, BDN Staff

A Portland commercial kitchen where cooks looking to launch food businesses can rent space will close in September.

The Fork Food Lab will be shut down, the head of its parent company said Tuesday, “due to the structural layout and market dynamics in this location.”

The announcement comes as a setback to innovative cooks in a city that’s gained a national reputation as a coastal foodie haven and is striving to place itself at the center of a statewide food economy.

[From fight club to food club in Portland]

Fork Food Lab is home to more than 20 food startups, including North Spore, a mushroom grower; Falafal Mafia, a Middle Eastern food truck and caterer; and White Cap Coffee.

It will close Sept. 30 and members must remove their equipment by Oct. 5, according to a statement on the website of Pilotworks, which owns Fork Food Lab and operates similar kitchens in other cities.

The test kitchen and incubator for culinary businesses is shutting down after two years of operation because “operating sustainably was not feasible long term” said Pilotworks CEO Zach Ware.

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The facility opened in the West Bayside neighborhood in 2016 and offers cooks access to a shared commercial kitchen for a monthly membership fee. It was founded by Neil Spillane, former CEO of Urban Farm Fermentory, and Eric Holstein. The pair sold the business to Pilotworks last year.

A notice on the Pilotworks site says that the company is also closing a kitchen in Providence, Rhode Island, on the same timeline. The company will be “continuing to invest in our New York Metro, Chicago and Dallas locations,” Ware said.

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