Fork Food Lab Celebrates Fruitful 1st Year Of Helping To Launch Entrepreneurs

By Meredith Goad
Portland Press Herald, Maine

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) “Fork Food Lab” in Portland, Maine is home to many budding food entrepreneurs. With its shared commercial kitchen facilities and tasting room it is becoming part of the recipe for success for many small business owners in the region.

Portland Press Herald, Maine

Neil Spillane, wearing one of his many hats at the Fork Food Lab in Portland, took hold of one handle on an 80-quart mixing bowl — filled with enough chocolate chip whoopie pie batter to make 500 whoopie pies — and helped Dennis Wiggins lug it up a flight of stairs.

Wiggins is married to Marcia Wiggins, owner of Cape Whoopies, one of the original members of the 6,000-square-foot food business incubator that opened last year.

There’s no lift between floors in the old building on Parris Street — not yet, anyway — so when one of the food entrepreneurs needs a hand, Spillane offers it. He’s part manager, part business adviser, part psychologist, part janitor, part shoulder to lean on.

Fork Food Lab, with its shared commercial kitchen facilities and tasting room, was co-founded by Spillane and Eric Holstein and will be celebrating its one-year Forkiversary with a big party Thursday night.

In the beginning, 10 eager food entrepreneurs signed up to share the space, which is outfitted with almost every piece of shiny kitchen equipment a cook or baker might covet. By winter, that number had doubled, Spillane said, “and right now we’re at 37 companies.”

Fork Food Lab entrepreneurs: The Up-and-Comer
Members range from Bill Linnell, a newcomer who wants to run a lobster roll food truck, to Kelly Towles, a salsa maker who started in the basement of her home and now places salsa in stores from Maine to Pennsylvania and at restaurants and hotels all over Maine and New Hampshire. (Spillane says Towles’ Plucked Fresh Salsa, along with Cape Whoopies, are “by far growing the fastest, and they’re the largest companies in the incubator right now.”)

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