In my business we like to say the best idea wins.
The idea to turn the city owned restaurant space in the transportation center garage into an incubator was done a long time ago, by my friend Tonia Fish. She’s one of the smartest people I know. She’s also honest as the day is long, which doesn’t work when you’re dealing with the queen of the “culture of corruption.”
This story pretty much writes itself- first- an excerpt from my blog 6 years ago:
The Great Thanksgiving Day Food Truck Massacre
It started on Tuesday, when Tonia Fish told me that her temporary lease on the old Chin’s/Elbo’s/Sa-Bai space at 200 S. Jefferson St. may not be renewed. A meeting of some sort had been held in City Hall and the decision was coming. Mayor Leitzell had told me that in the executive session last week, where this matter was being discussed, Nan Whaley wasn’t prepared to vote on it and it was tabled. Had they had another illegal meeting of the commission to discuss this lease? There wasn’t an announced session- and since Executive sessions have to be done either as an emergency and announced- or gone into from a regularly scheduled meeting- what had happened?
Full disclosure- Tonia and her husband Joe Fish have been my friends for a long time. They own the Chef Case in the 2nd Street market – and I’ve done a few projects for them. I’ve been left out of all of the Synergy Incubators marketing- because I’m too controversial.
Mrs. Fish is a force to be reckoned with. Having worked with high-powered people in big cities, she’s meticulous in her planning and in the execution of her plans. Her business plan was to turn the space in the Transportation Center Garage into a communal kitchen/teaching/banquet place for independent food operators. This actually dovetails with businesses like Thai 9 that routinely have to turn down large events that they can’t cater or book because it would disrupt their regular business- as opposed to the last tenant the city put in this space, Sa-Bai, that was direct, subsidized competition for Thai 9.
She’d already begun offering business education at the former Dayton Public Schools Central Kitchen which was in mothballs until she opened Dayton’s first mobile food business commissary. The kitchen is currently licensed as a prep kitchen which food trucks and carts use as home base. But, it’s a manufacturing plant- not a restaurant training ground. The city claims to be in favor of this part of her plan- and supports it. The sticking point that killed this local food incubator wasn’t the low rent- but the plan to help support this facility by having one day a month food truck rallies on this location. Hard to believe that drawing a few thousand people downtown once a month is a threat to any restaurant business- and no business owner would come out and say this, but, because this is Dayton. Ohio- where irrational behavior gets rewarded, the one-year lease/experiment got axed officially yesterday.
Today in The Dayton Business Journal:
A shared kitchen concept will be making its way to downtown Dayton, giving local food entrepreneurs and caterers the opportunity to grow their businesses.
The kitchen will be located in the former Chin’s Restaurant at 200 S. Jefferson St., near the Dayton Convention Center. Although lease negotiations are still ongoing, the kitchen is planning to debut January 2020.
The concept is being led by three local businesswomen — Charlynda Scales, founder and CEO of Mutt’s Sauce; Dabriah Rice, owner of Divine Catering and Events; and Jamaica White, a self described “serial entrepreneur” with background in business development. The trio was connected by the Downtown Dayton Partnership through their shared belief there’s a need for a shared kitchen concept downtown….
The trio believes this shared kitchen concept is another reason why people should stay in Dayton.
“I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I believe if there was a program in place like this (when I first started), I could have gotten more guidance and mentorship,” Rice said. “For me, this is personal because I’ve been in the industry for so long. I know people here with passion to get to the next step, so this will bring us all together.”
Funny how things change. Maybe I need to start checking all the campaign finance reports to see who donated to whom. Only problem is- there is no database to do this (for a reason) so it’s a long, painful process.
Ms. Fish is ecstatic that her dream will live. It’s just too bad there wasn’t a program like this in place when others started…
and remember, if Shenise Turner Sloss and I get elected this Tuesday, it’s the two of us plus Darryl Fairchild that make up the independent block- with three votes on the City Commission, and just Nan Whaley and Jeff Mims as the minority with two votes. At least until the FBI and DOJ decide to actually arrest some white politicians for the Culture of Corruption. So far, all they can arrest is Black folk. (Sorry, brutal honesty is kind of my trademark).