Pittsburgh is home to world-class food, praised restaurants, and renowned chefs. But what happens when one of these chefs wants to open their own restaurant? Many culinary-minded individuals learn quickly that there is more to running a kitchen than just cooking. That’s where Smallman Galley comes in; a restaurant incubator set out to help aspiring restaurant owners create and culminate their culinary and business skills.
Those privy to Silicon Valley and tech startups may be familiar with the term incubator when it comes to businesses. While the idea is popular in the world of technology, it is fairly unchartered territory in the culinary scene – until now, thanks to Tyler Benson and Ben Mantica. For 18 months, four selected restaurants will reside in the hall on Smallman Street in the Strip District.
Josephine’s Toast, Aubergine Bistro, Carota Café, and Provision PGH are the first restaurants that have been selected to inhabit Smallman Galley and are here to stay until Spring 2017. Until that time, the owners will run their own restaurant in the hall, rent free, while taking training in a variety of subjects to help hone their restauranteur skills.
Like tech incubators, Smallman Galley collects a small portion of the revenue from each restaurant while paying for all utilities, upkeep, and more while the restaurants use their portion of revenue to pay for wages and inventory. Aside from learning the business side to restaurant owning and hearing from successful speakers in the culinary profession, the chefs ultimately have his or her own say in what their menu offers and how their restaurant is run.
One of the popular attractions of the incubator, besides its community appeal, is the wide array of foods offered. From meat and toast to vegetables and sandwiches, not only does each chef have a different type of food on their menu, but a different take on food as well. Current restaurant owners Chef Jacqueline Wardle, Chef Rafael Vencio, Chef Jessica Lewis, and Chef Stephen Eldridge all provide Pittsburgh with a variety of backgrounds and expertise that foodies of all kinds can look forward to seeing flourish in the future. Aside from incredible talent and food, the galley also homes a bar offering up cocktails and beer well as a coffee and espresso so guests can enjoy a beverage while waiting for their specially crafted food.
Within the final months of their stay, these restaurants will be assisted in finding a permanent site, partnerships, and financing. The eventual goal is to have each restaurant running solely within six months of leaving the galley. As for Smallman Galley, they will soon be looking to host four new culinary hopefuls and their restaurant concepts. For those with dreams of owning their own restaurant, keep an eye out for when the next round of applications will be accepted and you may be next.