A new-to-Kamloops concept may be cooked up on the North Shore.
Development company Arpa Investments, a local restaurateur and the Kamloops Food Policy Council have teamed up to explore demand for a food hall and commercial kitchen in The Tapestry development, which is now under construction at Spirit Square.
Arpa Investments partner Joshua Knaak said the food hall — think of a food court, but with slow food or mini-restaurants, not fast food — is intended to fill a gap in the restaurant scene, wherein small food vendors, like food truck operators, can transition to a shared space without having to make the challenging jump to a full-on restaurant.
Knaak likened the restaurant space gap in Kamloops to the housing market, in which renters have found it difficult to purchase a home amidst sky-high prices.
That gap paved way for a previous Arpa project, The Station, which allowed renters to enter the housing market at a lower price point, via micro-suites.
Knaak said the transition for restaurateurs would be eased by sharing services such as seating, licensing and janitorial.
“It’s an opportunity to provide ready-made, turn-key restaurant space for people that are ready to take that step,” he said.
The second part of the concept is a commissary kitchen, which is essentially a commercial kitchen that can be rented by caterers, food truck venders and other food preppers.
In recent months, the Kamloops Food Policy Council has been working on a pilot project and feasibility study to create a food-processing centre, having received $50,000 in funding from the Ministry of Agriculture to conduct the plans as part of the provincial government’s B.C. Food Hub Network.
Council lead on the project, Bonnie Klohn, explained that Arpa and North Kamloops restaurateur Mitch Forgie had approached the Food Policy Council with the food hall concept while it conducted its pilot project.
Forgie owns the Red Beard and is part of the ownership group behind Bright Eye Brewery.
Klohn called the two concepts — a food hall and commissary kitchen — a good fit.
“We thought it was a great opportunity,” she said. “Part of the intent of the food hall is really to act as an incubator.”
Klohn said the pilot project has been successful, with one business owner quitting their other job and hiring an employee in order to grow.
The commissary kitchen would provide not only commercial-scale equipment — appliances, dehydrators, flash freezers and packaging equipment — but also secure dry storage and walk-in cooler and freezer space, which Klohn said is a barrier with the few commercial kitchens in town.
The commissary kitchen could be available for rent by the hour or on an ongoing basis.
What will take the food hall/commercial kitchen idea from concept to reality?
An event next week will gauge interest, with food producers and manufacturers invited to the United Way’s Xchange, at 286 Tranquille Rd., on Tuesday, Feb. 11, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Those interested are asked to RSVP by emailing Klohn at email@example.com.
Should the concept move ahead — Knaak said Arpa is moving ahead with the assumption the project will indeed happen — the food hall/commercial kitchen concept would occupy the lower level of Building 2 in The Tapestry, which is a five-storey, mixed-use residential and commercial space currently under construction, with about 40 per cent of the residential units sold.
The goal is to have the food hall and commissary kitchen in operation by the summer of 2021.