Joint Bakery Sizzling Bread Kitchen opens New Brooklyn HQ
The competitive former Pilotworks space – the small business incubator that collapsed abruptly in late 2018 and stranded its 175 or so vendors – now has a new tenant: a respected nonprofit restaurant industry Hot bread kitchen. The company is currently moving its headquarters from East Harlem to the 11,000 square foot space in the former Pfizer building at 630 Flushing Avenue between Marcy Avenue and Tompkins Avenue in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
As with Pilotworks, Hot Bread Kitchen has an incubator program for local food companies. The non-profit organization also has a training branch in which graduates are employed in restaurants such as Breads Bakery, Russ & Daughters and Roberta’s. It’s also known for its wholesale bakery that supplies bread to grocery stores and restaurants across town such as Whole Foods and Chef Daniel Boulud’s Boulud Sud on the Upper West Side, and it recently opened a stand in Chelsea Market selling products of its incubator members.
At the new headquarters, Karen Bornarth, the head of the Hot Bread Kitchen workforce, plans to expand the training program, which currently employs more than 100 women a year for jobs at companies such as restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, the fast-casual chain Dig and catering company Restaurant Associates.
According to Kobla Asamoah, director of the small business, many of the former pilotworks companies are enrolled in Hot Bread Kitchen. When it closed, Asamoah’s team spoke to about 90 companies stranded from the startup and ended up signing about 33 of them. Andre Springer, who owns popular hot sauce brand Shaquanda Will Feed You, will move back to 630 Flushing alongside preservative-free jam company Oswald & Co and Umikah, which sell curd and spreads in small quantities.
The food incubator space has had some difficult years. It started as Brooklyn Food Works, which was then bought out by Pilotworks when the company acquired it in 2016. Hot Bread Kitchen investigated renting the space immediately after the demise of Pilotworks, but another tenant who also owned a food and beverage incubator program called Nursery, showed up and briefly claimed the location before stepping down weeks later.
But Hot Bread Kitchen isn’t a start-up – it’s been around for a decade and has built a reputation for establishing careers for women in the food industry. Local vendors say the nonprofit has business support that sets them apart, including coaching and advice on getting the city approved.
“I’ve learned so much about how to look at things from a food business operator’s point of view,” says Springer. “I don’t think I would have been able to do that [run my business] to grow properly or even by as much as last year if it weren’t for all of them at Hot Bread Kitchen. “
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