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June 7, 2016

Fork Food Lab raising $30K for public tasting space

Photo / Lori Valigra
Photo / Lori Valigra
Neil Spillane (left) and Eric Holstein, co-founders of Fork Food Lab in Portland, are trying to raise $30,000 in a Kickstarter campaign. The funds will go to a tasting room and space for community events.

Neil Spillane and Eric Holstein, co-founders of the Fork Food Lab coming to Portland's West Bayside neighborhood, want to make their collaborative commercial kitchen about more than food businesses renting space.

The duo launched a $30,000 Kickstarter campaign on June 9, and plan to use all the funds raised for a tasting room to draw in the community to try new foods from and provide feedback to the businesses at the lab.

"This is part of the Food Lab that will be open to everyone," Holstein, who is chief operating officer, told Mainebiz. Contributors will get different goods depending on the amount they give. For example, $100 gets them a holiday gift basket, while $25 gets access to a tasting session.

The company also plans to hold an event at Portland's Bayside Bowl on June 15 to promote the crowdfunding campaign.

Spillane and Holstein said they plan to open their 5,700-square-foot space, at 72 Parris St., in August, and hold a large grand opening in September.

So far, Food Lab has 34 letters of intent to use the space from food trucks, food carts, packaged goods makers and caterers, said Spillane, who is CEO. Spillane previously managed the food hub at Urban Farm Fermentory.

One of the members that has signed up is Gelato Fiasco, which, according to Holstein, has about 200 square feet of space in which it will have an open kitchen where consumers can come and taste or suggest experimental flavors.

"It's from the bottom up, from the customers," Spillane said about the approach. "People eating the food will make it. It empowers Mainers and there's more control, more transparency."

Food Lab space runs $800 per month for full-time lessees and $500 for part-timers up to 16 hours per week. The Food Lab has 10 ovens currently, 500 square feet of cold storage and an area for dry storage.

Spillane and Holstein emphasized that food is not just about the recipe, however. "The hardest part is executing," Holstein said.

Holstein graduated from Colby College with a degree in administrative science and a focus on hospitality finance. Spillane, a native of Brunswick, has a bachelor of science degree in business finance from the University of Maine, Orono, and an MBA from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn. They both said their education and experience will help them guide the businesses locating in the shared kitchen space.

Read more

City of Portland eyes development for Bayside property

Portland gets its first taste of the Fork Food Lab

Morning Dew Farm turns to crowdfunding in hopes of 68-acre purchase

Fork Food Lab receives accolades for job creation, economic development

Food lab planned for West Bayside site

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