DeAndre Wilson and Merrick Korach are opening Bedford Collab to help local chefs in need of kitchen space to grow their company.
Small business owners will be able to lease the space for up to a year at a time once the facility opens.
“There are many chefs that have needed this for so long. We know that to move your business forward, you need that space to work, create, imagine and experiment. You always need a test kitchen,” Wilson said.
The shared kitchen will be at 1201 South Bedford Avenue, which formerly housed the Bedford Tavern.
“It was the hangout spot for the neighborhood, and it’s just been sitting empty. It’s a community space that needs to be revitalized to ignite the neighborhood and bring jobs to the area,” Wilson said.
They said the purpose is to “provide sustainability through growing fresh, local produce; provide a shared commercial kitchen for existing and striving foodpreneurs; and a media/co-working space for artists and entrepreneurs alike. The culture that is created will bring all walks of life into one geographic location for the benefit and flourishing of everyone in proximity.”
More: Holcomb announces restrictions for certain counties amid coronavirus surge
More: ‘No more Stage 5.’ What COVID-related restrictions are in place in Indiana now?
More: Local hospitals approaching capacity; Deaconess among five pilot vaccine recipients
As the co-owner of a local catering company, Turn Table, Wilson realized many chefs like himself need a space to work but it simply hasn’t existed in Evansville for years.
“There was a place called Island Ice that housed seven of us at the time and even then, there were businesses that couldn’t get in. So that first shared kitchen paved the way and manifested this,” Wilson said.
He’s excited at the impact this can have not only for Tepe Park but also Evansville as a whole.
Wilson has seen many home-grown chefs in town who want to start up their own businesses and need space to slowly grow. He believes everyone from food truck owners, caterers and bakers will be able to benefit from Bedford Collab.
The property was purchased back in August with the help of community organizations.
Wilson said Community One has been working on the ground to help restore homes in the neighborhood and supported the idea of a shared kitchen along with the owner of Penny John’s.
Habitat for Humanity of Evansville wrote and received a significant grant from Republic Services that is being matched one-for-one by Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy Company. Grant funds will be used to rehabilitate, repair and remodel the Bedford Collab building and to purchase the necessary appliances and equipment for this new community kitchen.
“We’re filling a need in the community, and we found the perfect place to put it,” Wilson said. “Bedford Collab is hitting so many key points for people who have a business and are ready to scale the company up or for people just getting started and can’t get to the next level because they need a kitchen.”
The company’s mission is “to step into the gaps that have been naturally or systematically created and empower others to be the change they hope to see in the world.”