Research: Community Food Space
A feeling that keeps waving over me, as I go through both the streets of the city as well as those of small communities (at least in America), is that we’ve got a ton of space that we’re willing to do nothing with for way too long. And at the same time, not enough publicly facing space that allows people to experiment without getting overly invested.
If we know that half of all businesses fail to survive past five years, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (via the U.S. Small Business Administration), what tools could be given to burgeoning entrepreneurs without requiring huge fixed costs like rent and labor?
Here to date
Originally, I’d been calling this a public space project, which was confusing, because the name evokes the use of publicly owned space like parks, or privately owned public spaces, of which my idea is neither.
Instead, the idea is to make private space actually owned by the public in a more meaningful way. POPS don’t seem to fit the bill because they are meant for the public to enjoy, but not for their improvement.
A few aspects to this plan:
- My goal is focused on chefs, cooks, and people who work in the foodservice industry. Why? They are the ones who are the least likely to have the benefits of investment and retail opportunity.
- My focus is on community, and my aim is to try to find a way to make it meaningful. Community often has been spun with emptiness I wonder if there should be more of a conversation between people.
- The real question is: Is this a space for chefs to do their work, or is it a place for more enthusiastic home chefs to gain confidence and connection with the people who know their (legitimate) food networks—the people who bring the ingredients that create meals—best?
In this space, current, former and nearby
A recap of my last post.
There are a bunch of other people who are doing things that are near and dear to that idea, but not necessarily the same.
- As mentioned previously, SCRATCHbread was an impassioned cry for involvement of the community into the dream of the founder, Matthew Tilden. He decided to close the shop earlier this month, owing to burnout and lack of a partner or investor relationship.
- As a recent historical example, The Walk-In Cookbook was a business in Park Slope that tried to perform a local, Blue Apron-like experience. It closed a couple of years ago, but I am very curious about what happened with it, and reached out to the former owner.
- Of course, The Brooklyn Kitchen is a great resource for people in the Williamsburg / Greenpoint neighborhood, with classes and parties. Is that the most appropriate model?
Where I’m headed
I’m still hoping to gather more information from folks about what’s good here. So more TK, obviously. I had a great conversation with my aforementioned friend, working on dining projects down in Richmond, Virginia, such as Longoven (Instagram). It veered into what he wants to do with community outreach down there—another possibility. A different friend pointed me to the Museum of Food and Drink, which sounds like a fascinating foray into the subject.
There are probably more examples out there, and I’m going to keep my ear out for more, but for now my focus is going to be on articulating one potential vision for the future of this idea. Watch for more from this space.