ECDI Food Fort scheduled to open in July

The Economic and Community Development Institute aims to bolster the local food system with the opening of its 8,000-square-foot Food Fort commissary on July 1.

Located at 737 Parkwood Ave. on Columbus’s near east side, the commissary will feature food preparation and storage space for mobile food carts. Access to the facility will be limited to members with remote access cards. Members will have 24-hour access seven days a week.

“It is our desire to work with existing businesses, both restaurants and local retailers to create a mutually beneficial partnership between the Fort and local establishments,” says Stephen Brady, director of business operations for ECDI.

“We will work with restaurant owners to use carts to promote their brick and mortar locations and to reach revenue-generating events that they would otherwise miss,” he continues. “We also intend to work with local businesses to provide food in locations where food is not easily accessible, thus benefiting the food vendors and the local businesses.”

Initially, the Food Fort will have eight food carts −from the maximum legal size on down− available to rent or lease and room for another 15. Standard food cart features include a grill or griddle, a 20,000 British thermal unit aluminized burner, a steam table, a drop-in pan for cold food and beverage storage, a four-compartment sink, and a five-gallon freshwater tank.

Short and long-term rental plans are available, with the former designed for the client that mainly wants to take advantage of local festivals. Day rentals are $175 per day for a full-size cart and long-term rentals, which require a commitment of three months or longer, are $650 per month for the full-size cart. All food carts must be stored in the commissary.

The commissary is part of ECDI’s Food Fort network, which offers access to the institute’s small business training academy, as well as discounted legal, accounting, and food safety programs.

To learn more, visit ECDI.org.