Chew buys Brooklyn Pilotworks to create Nursery, a brand new meals incubator
A new food and beverage incubator has taken over the space in Brooklyn that was once operated by Pilot work – the company that shut down abruptly about two months ago, removing nearly 200 local grocers from their production kitchens.
The new incubator is called kindergarten is supported by Chew – a Boston-based food research laboratory founded by the entrepreneur Adam Melonas, an Australian chef who sees himself as a modern day Willy Wonka. Since 2013, Melonas has focused on making highly processed foods like frozen meals in its lab, where chefs and food scientists have created over 1,000 new foods, according to a report in the Boston Globe.
The new Brooklyn Incubator at 630 Flushing Ave. will open later this week “pending final approvals,” says a spokesman. All providers who were previously active in the room were invited back, says the spokesman.
Melonas, who has worked in several upscale restaurants around the world, says his team are “working closely together to restore the trust and good faith of our renters” and are working to build a “vibrant and dynamic community”.
Nick Shippers of Ube kitchen – who previously operated from the Pilotworks room – tells Eater that there is “great interest” among the providers, most of whom met the new operator for the first time on Monday.
Melonas has plans to open a similar incubator in Cambridge, he said in a June profile on The Globe. Chew, open since 2013, is self-funded by Melonas and makes money by inventing new foods and helping major corporate brands reduce their junk foods with chemicals. The entrepreneur is playing a great game; In profile he claims: “I am arrogant enough to know that if I go into the kitchen today and tell everyone that we will put the grain amaranth in anything that can guarantee in 12 to 18 months will be a global trend. “
Before Melonas opened his Willy Wonka-like factory, he was a co-founder of Unreal Candy, a company touted by celebs like Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen, and Matt Damon, trying to reinvent candy as healthy, selling chemical-free candy. Melonas left the company in 2013 when its products were pulled off the shelves.
Revitalizing the incubator could be a big step for dozens of local food businesses. The mysterious closure of Pilotworks in October banned nearly 200 local grocers from their products, leaving them without a kitchen to produce goods during the busy holiday season. Members received little to no information when the company closed, other than that Pilotworks did not have enough money to keep working. Several vendors said they owed thousands of dollars.
Pilotworks opened its Brooklyn outpost in 2016 and was even approved by the Economic Development Corp. supported in NYC. The Brooklyn President’s Office invested $ 1.3 million to expand the facility, which was then called Brooklyn FoodWorks. The NYC EDC apparently supports this restart as well. President and CEO James Patchett said he was thrilled to have “facilitated” the reopening.
Eater reached out to the EDC for more information.
Correction: Unreal Candy took its products off the shelves in 2013 but never officially closed the store. The products eventually returned to stores after Melonas left.