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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Locavore: Commercial kitchen designed for foodie entrepreneurs

Locavore

715 Hawthorne Ave.

Fort Worth 76110

817-524-4699

www.locavorefw.com

A locavore is a person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.

And Fort Worth’s Locavore is all about serving locals, from the diners to those who create the meals. Co-owner Carlo Capua (along with his friend and co-owner Cortney Gumbleton, calls their latest innovation the “AirBnB for commercial kitchens.”

For those who have dreamed of being a chef but could never afford to build a commercial kitchen, thanks to Locavore they can now have one.

“The odds are stacked against them. For starters, they need a commercial kitchen, which could cost $100,000-plus to build,” Capua said. “And even if they take the risk and build one, there are myriad rules and regulations involved with running a compliant food-related business. This is partially why the food industry has a notoriously high failure rate.”

So Locavore offers a complete package for food entrepreneurs – a rent-by-the-hour commercial kitchen, storage capacity for food inventory, mentors and access to an affordable event space. Capua said that in the past couple of months, he’s been contacted by more than 50 businesses searching for such resources.

Currently, 12 businesses rent one of three fully permitted commercial kitchens at a rate of $25 per hour. An indoor/outdoor event venue that can hold up to 200 guests is also available.

Locavore is located in a 5,000-square-foot venue just off Hemphill Street that previously operated as The Bastion in the Near Southside.

Capua is founder of the popular Z’s Cafe and Catering. He is also on the board of directors for the United Way of Tarrant County. Gumbleton is a former nonprofit executive and a member of this year’s class of Leadership Fort Worth. Both are currently competing in the Fort Worth Business Plan Competition with Locavore.

This is not the first time the duo have worked to give dreamers a chance to advance themselves.

“The model of Z’s Cafe is to hire low-income men and women to launch them back into the workforce,” he said. “We’ve hired 136 individuals over the past 10 years.”

Capua said this endeavor has taught him and his wife three important things:

– Even established restaurants can benefit from Locavore. They’ve signed acclaimed vegan restaurant Spiral Diner as an anchor tenant, relocating its Fort Worth baking and ice cream production to Locavore’s kitchen. “This has taken a huge amount of pressure off their restaurant kitchen and allows them to keep growing,” he said.

– It’s never too late to pursue your passion, as they’ve learned from many of the retired folks who have contacted them about starting a business. “They never want to look back on life and say, ‘what if?’ ” he said.

– While small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, they are the heart of a community. “The support we’ve received from everyone in the Near Southside of Fort Worth has been especially reassuring.”

Looking ahead, Capua said, they are searching for more commercial kitchens for foodie startups. They also plan to hold food handler and manager classes, pop-up dinners, cooking classes and other events that strengthen the small-business community and culinary ecosystem in the city.

“Our goal is for Fort Worth to be renowned for being the best place in the country to start a food business,” h

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