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Pilotworks Closes Abruptly, Leaving Small Business Owners in the Lurch

When Pilotworks opened its culinary incubator in Dallas a few months ago, entrepreneurs saw the solution to their small business problems. But Pilotworks abruptly closed, and they've now lost money and their commercial kitchen space.
When Pilotworks opened its culinary incubator in Dallas a few months ago, entrepreneurs saw the solution to their small business problems. But Pilotworks abruptly closed, and they've now lost money and their commercial kitchen space.
courtesy Pilotworks
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Pilotworks, a shared commercial kitchen space and food incubator that started in Brooklyn and opened locations nationwide, closed it doors without warning over the weekend. Having opened in Dallas at the beginning of 2018, this co-working space for independent food professionals offered budding small businesses a space to prep, cook and hold events and classes, even offering workshops to help businesses get off the ground.

Located in the old Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts near Webb Chapel and LBJ Freeway, this space allowed chefs to rent shared kitchen space instead of having to invest in their own. It had room for more than 200 food businesses. Its on-demand kitchen space started at $20 an hour, with kitchens open 24 hours a day.

Pilotworks issued the following statement on its closing:

It is with a heavy heart that after failing to raise the necessary capital to continue operations, Pilotworks will cease operations on October 13th, 2018. We realize the shock of this news and the disruption it causes for the independent food community we were so honored to serve.

This is a sad outcome for Pilotworks, the makers in our kitchens, and independent food in general. We wish there was another option to continue operating. Sadly, there was not. The work the independent food community is doing is amazing and inspiring. We know it will live on and we are deeply sorry it will not be with Pilotworks.

Questions can be directed to questions@pilotworks.com and we will make every attempt to answer them the best we can.

Regretfully,
Pilotworks


Julianna Bradley of Radix Foods abruptly lost her kitchen space when the business shuttered.

“It’s tragic, but especially its impact on the people who cook there," she says. "No warnings at all. A lot of food makers are struggling to know what to do next, especially those of us doing the Veggie Fair at the end of the month.” The team at Radix has since found space to cook at Perfect Temper Kitchen in Plano.

A similar concept in Fort Worth, Locavore, is jumping in to help stranded Pilotworks renters, too. A pop-up banner on their website reads, “If you were a Pilotworks renter and need a commercial kitchen to meet your needs, you've come to the right place. We're committed to finding room for your business.”

Brandon Waller of Bam’s Vegan recently signed with Pilotworks and never had the chance to book his first shift there.

“My current gig is at the Dallas Farmers Market," he says. "I was preparing food out of a smaller kitchen, but I keep taking the next steps with my business. I signed with Pilotworks on Oct. 1, just a couple weeks ago. I fell in love with the space and the price was competitive."

He paid the deposit, but when he went online this past weekend to book his hours, he wasn’t able to do so.

“I saw this screen pop up, saying that Pilotworks had to close abruptly," he says. "The timing is hard, especially with food vendors; we have a lot of busy times coming up around the holidays.”

As of Tuesday, Oct. 16, Waller had not received his deposit back. The last he heard, the former manager of the Dallas location was working to see what she could do to help all the chefs.

Pilotworks closed its facilities in Portland, Maine, and Providence, R.I., in September. Its Newark, Chicago and Brooklyn offices also closed last weekend.

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