Columbus’ food makers still have a commercial kitchen space to produce their goods, but now they are doing it from a facility with a new name, new ownership and upgraded capabilities.
The Commissary at 1400 Dublin Rd. is now 1400 Food Lab.
The rebranded name brings an instant recognition to the purpose of the space, something that was important to new owners, Brad DeHays and Scott Humphrys.
“Food Lab really speaks to what we are,” Humphrys says. “This is where people experiment and learn and grow their business in a professional environment.”
Originally opened on the heels of a successful Kickstarter campaign in November 2014 by Kate Djupe, DeHays, the building’s owner, was made aware that the facility needed to change its operational strategy or it would be doors closed.
“We decided to step in and take it over because we felt it was a very important asset to the community,” Humphrys says.
Entrepreneurs themselves, the partners didn’t want to see 60 plus makers lose their space to create. Humphrys says their goal is not to create some big moneymaker, but instead build a self-sustaining model around the business with profits invested back into the facility.
Humphrys’ role at 1400 Food Lab will be focused on strategy.
“I want to work on the business, not in the business,” he says.
Running the tactical, day-to-day operations is General Manager Karen Chrestay. A volunteer when the space was operating as The Commissary, Chrestay knew every working piece of the facility.
“There was no way I could do this without Karen,” Humphrys says.
While the space will operate much as it did as The Commissary, it will be from a facility that has seen many interior and exterior upgrades.
“We talked to the makers and found our what they needed, what was working, what wasn’t working,” says Marketing Coordinator Kelly Rauch.
1400 Food Lab has upgraded its kitchen facilities, including new appliances and a more efficient layout that allows for more space in the kitchen, as well as better use of the dry and cold storage areas.
Humphrys says their focus has really been on two major improvements. First, 1400 Food Lab is building out “two private kitchens for clients of ours that are ready to take the next step, but not ready to go buy their own building.” It’s ideal for makers that need space to grow while remaining in the confines of a commercial facility.
The second, and biggest change, comes in the arena of events. 1400 Food Lab aims to make better use of what Humphrys calls an underutilized event space.
Rauch says they are working on a complete physical overhaul of the event space, making it more inviting and focusing on details like furniture that’s easier to move and reconfigure.
“We basically wanted that room to be totally flexible,” she says.
Rauch and Humphrys say to expect many more events, from cooking classes, to educational classes, to business classes, to wine tastings, to private events and on and on.
“The things we’ve done make the model sustainable,” Humphrys says.
That sustainability has been a welcome sign from makers that were facing uncertainty about the future of the facility. Humphrys says 1400 Food Lab has added about 30 active clients in the months since the takeover and will soon sign up their 100th maker.
For more information, visit 1400foodlab.com.