March 21, 2019
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Lab kitchen for Portland food startups to stay open thanks to new partnership

File | BDN
File | BDN
People chop up vegetables at Fork Food Lab in this BDN file photo.

The Fork Food Lab, which was scheduled to close Monday after two years providing commercial kitchen space for Portland food startups, has new life.

On Tuesday, the Yarmouth-based Sustainability Lab announced it has entered into a partnership with the Portland enterprise to keep it open.

The Fork Food Lab has 25 member businesses, representing more than $3 million in sales, according to the Tuesday announcement.

In late July, the lab’s parent company, Pilotworks, said the Portland facility — as well as another one in Providence, Rhode Island — would have to close “due to the structural layout and market dynamics in this location.”

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Bill Seretta, president of The Sustainability Lab, said Tuesday he aims to raise $250,000 to eliminate the Portland lab’s debt, build the membership to a “self-sustaining” 45 rent-paying businesses and expand training programs.

“Fork Food Lab is a critical part of the infrastructure for small business creation in Greater Portland,” he said in a statement. “It also serves as a bridge between local food entrepreneurs and consumers. In the two years since it began, Fork has become a fixture in our regional food system. The Sustainability Lab is eager to help Fork continue its mission of giving food entrepreneurs and small food producers all the tools they need to create and launch their businesses and increase their odds for success.”

Nina Murray, owner and baker at Mill Cove Baking Company, a member of Fork Food Lab, said in a statement she’s “extremely happy about this new partnership.”

“Fork Food Lab is a beacon for startup businesses, and the support that members provide each other is extraordinary,” she said. “Keeping Fork going, and keeping management local, is a significant show of support for our food-based start-up community.”

Fork Food Lab will hold an open house during the First Friday Art Walk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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