Entrepreneurs have started to prove that they can turn any space into a startup space. In Opelika Alabama an old train depot has been converted into The Round House, Cincinnati’s turned a rundown building in OTR into the thriving Brandery and a Huntsville entrepreneur has turned an old public school into a startup space.
For a Rhode Island entrepreneur the vision to turn an abandoned school into a food incubator actually started five years earlier. That’s when Lisa J Raiola wanted to launch her own food business in the Warren Rhode Island building now known as Hope & Main. Somewhere along the way (like many entrepreneurs) Raiola got side tracked and decided she wanted to bring more like minded foodie entrepreneurs along for the ride. and a wild ride it’s been.
October of 2014 marked the grand opening of Hope and Main which helped launch 27 food related businesses in a school building that saw a $3.2 million dollar renovation.
“We want to shine a light on these Rhode Island superheroes, these businessmen and women,” said Raiola at the opening in October, “who cupcake by cupcake and pickle by pickle will help us to build a stronger economy; a yummy economy.”
Hope & Main provides subsidized kitchen space in one of three commercial kitchens, one of which is a gluten free kitchen. They also have approved food storage areas. Hope & Main also provides mentorship and lessons in business, which many food entrepreneurs lack before venturing out on their own. Incubator companies pay a monthly rental fee to be part of the program and at the end of the program Hope & Main opens their doors to the public for a tasty event.
Rhode Island Monthly provided this list of the first cohort companies:
1. Acacia Cafe Food Truck and Kitchen: A food truck serving wholesome fare in greater Providence. acaciacafe.com
Facebook: Acacia Cafe
2. Agraria Edibles: Edibles from the farm and naturally dried and dehydrated products. agrariafarm.com
Facebook: Agraria Farm and Edibles
3. Allie’s Genuine Goodness: A vegan cookie dough company (break and bake style) that uses organic, non-GMO ingredients sourced from fair-trade facilities and educates people about how food choices affect people, animals and the environment. alliesgenuinegoodness.com
Facebook: Allie’s Genuine Goodness
4. AnaVila’s Bakehouse: Healthy gluten-free foods.
5. The Backyard Food Company: A Rhode Island-based food company specializing in heirloom recipes made with locally sourced vine-ripened produce. thebackyardfoodcompany.com
Facebook: The Backyard Food Company
6. Bella Piccolina: An inspirational food blog with a kid’s heart, created by Daniela Mansella. bellapiccolina.com
7. Biggest Little Popcorn Company: Air-popped, baked, English butter toffee popcorn infused with the purest fruit oils/extracts and spices available. biggestlittlepopcorncompany.com
8. The CupCake Contessas: A made-to-order local cupcake/cake business. cupcakecontessasri.com
Facebook: The CupCAKE Contessas
9. Dough: Warm and delectable confections made of the finest and freshest local ingredients. doughtreats.com
10. Essentially Coconut: Coconut and nut butters. essentiallycoconut.com
Facebook: Essentially Coconut
11. Fox Point Pickling Company: Delicious pickles handmade in Rhode Island using fresh produce and a unique spice blend. foxpointpickles.com
Facebook: Fox Point Pickling Company
12. Great Gaines Foods: A Rhode Island based company providing all natural frozen fruit and vegetable smoothies on a stick and gluten-free, whole-grain frozen cannoli shells filled with smoothies. greatgainesfoods.com
Facebook: Great Gaines
13. Griffith Gardens: Homemade products, including salsas, using fresh, local ingredients.
Facebook: Griffith Gardens
14. Halsey & Bowen: Specialty nut sauces.
15. Hollister Tamales: Authentic, handmade tamales and sauces. hollistertamales.com
Facebook: Hollister Tamales
16. Laughing Gull Chocolates: Direct trade specialty chocolates. laughinggullri.com
Facebook: Laughing Gull Chocolates
17. Matt’s Magic Brownies: Magic Brownies, Groovy Granola and Awesome Almond Cookies. mattsmagicbrownies.com
Facebook: Matt’s Magic Brownies
18. Mima’s Gluten-Free Nut-Free Baked Goods: Mima’s cookies, cupcakes and cakes are made with a special blend of ELISA certified gluten-free flours. mimasglutenfree.com
Facebook: Mima’s Gluten Free Nut Free Baked Goods
19. My Lil’ Chefs: Recipe kits featuring locally grown foods for creative children. mylilchefwebsite.com
Facebook: My Lil’ Chefs
20. New England Tonic & Syrup: Small batch syrups, salts and tonics for use in cocktails, desserts and recipes.
21. New Urban Farmers: A nonprofit organization that has set out to preserve and restore our environment by creating sustainable agricultural systems in the city. newurbanfarmers.org
Facebook: New Urban Farmers
22. Nutritionally Sound: Nutritional advice/private consulting for clients with diabetes, obesity, eating disorders, sports nutrition, celiac disease and much more. harmonywithfood.com
Facebook: Nutritionally Sound
23. Ocean State Smoked Fish Company: Smoked fish.
Facebook: Ocean State Smoked Fish Company
24. Pies by Moira: Home baked goods including pies, cupcakes, cookies and breads for sale at a road-side stand on Pearse Road in Swansea, Massachusetts.
Facebook: Pies By Moira
25. Spicy Penguin: Hot sauce, orange salsa and mango salsa that pack a spicy punch. thespicypenguin.com
Facebook: The Spicy Penguin
26. Two Gringos: Tito’s Cantina restaurant in Middletown offers specialty products including salsa, chips, hot peppers, sodas and more. titos.com
Facebook: Tito’s Cantina
27. Uncle Truscott’s: Classic American confections, including chocolate truffles. uncletruscotts.com