One of the biggest barriers to entry in the restaurant world has always been knowledge.
Well, money, too. And business savvy, management experience, real estate acumen and then lots more money. But knowledge is a big one. I’ve known serious, talented, well-known chefs who, in moments of honesty (or frustration) have told me that the biggest reason why they’re not opening their own restaurant is because they don’t know how to open their own restaurant.
But now there might be some help coming. Because the Enterprise Center in West Philly is launching Common Table--a restaurant incubator and "technical assistance program" which will help everyone from working chefs to young entrepreneurs get their food concepts out of their heads and into the real world.
So here are the basics about what's happening right now:
Through Common Table, selected participants will receive technical skills training throughout the individualized, 6-12 month program and will ultimately test their brick-and-mortar restaurant concepts in the Center for Culinary Enterprises’ retail space in West Philadelphia.
Interested food entrepreneurs should apply for the Common Table Fellowship. The application process starts with a preliminary questionnaire, followed by a business plan submission, and will culminate in a public tasting event judged by local culinary celebrities.
“Common Table is open to aspiring retail food entrepreneurs of various experience levels seeking proof of concept before their restaurant launch,” says Bryan Fenstermaker, Sr Director of Programming at TEC-CDC. “We will be selecting a diverse cohort of Fellows based on criteria including strength of their business plans, culinary ability, and commitment to the full program. We encourage all interested food entrepreneurs to apply, including those currently running existing food businesses.”
The application process began last week, so if you've got an idea that you think might fit with Common Table's mission of teaching struggling professionals how to take a concept from paper to street, you should reach out to Common Table for more information on their fellowship program.
But for those of us who aren't looking to become the next Michael Solomonov, there's also this: When not being used by the fellows, Common Table's fully staffed kitchen and retail space at 48th and Spruce will be available for existing restaurants to use as a pop-up space. They'll be able to test menus, run events, experiment. And, as a result, all us eaters have yet another unusual option for dinner. Which is awesome.
The fellowship program at Common Table is expected to begin in October, but applications for spaces in the program (and at the West Philly kitchen) are being taken now.
Common Table [official]