Fork Food Lab, the 6,000-square-foot commercial kitchen incubator in Portland’s West Bayside neighborhood, has merged with Pilotlight (formerly Foodworks), based in Brooklyn, New York.
Founders Neil Spillane and Eric Holstein opened Fork Food Lab on Sept. 27, 2016 with a vision to boost Maine’s food economy by helping local entrepreneurs scale up their companies. Fork Food Lab provides enough space for 45 food businesses and currently services 34 members who have access to state-of-the-art equipment, direct feedback from customers through an adjacent tasting room, as well as marketing and legal advice. Current members make anything from pies to almond milk, and salsa to coffee.
"We are very excited to partner with a company that shares in our vision for a more robust local food system where entrepreneurs with creative recipes can strategically grow,” said Spillane, who will stay on as General Manager of Fork Food Lab. “This merger will allow Fork Food Lab companies to expand distribution into the large New York market and leverage supplier discounts that are available to current Pilotlight producers."
Pilotlight is a 10,000-square-foot kitchen in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn with a similar goal of helping food startups to grow. The space currently hosts 110 member companies. One of the key benefits of a partnership with Pilotlight is access to their technology team. This arm of the company focuses on developing software to help streamline communication and sourcing for members.
“Foodworks (Pilotlight) is incredibly excited about merging with Fork Food Lab. In spending time with Eric and Neil over the last few months, it was obvious how values- and vision-aligned our teams were,” said founder and CEO of Foodworks, Nick Devane. “We deeply admire everything they, together with their community, have built thus far. We look forward to learning from each other and continuing to build towards changing the face of entrepreneurship in the food space.”
Fork Food Lab will remain at its current location in West Bayside with no immediate plans to change names. The merger is official as of Monday, June 12th.