Mesa builds restaurant "incubator" with COVID relief funds |

2021-11-24 01:55:05 By : Mr. Mr liang

Mesa, Arizona — The city of Mesa plans to use up to $3.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds to establish a “restaurant incubator” for local entrepreneurs who want to learn more about the food industry.  

City officials are looking for a location along the main street that can find a foothold in the local food and beverage market for companies in need, providing them with commercial kitchens and public food courts. 

Several restaurant owners will use shared spaces to develop skills in menu design, portion control, and kitchen management. As many as seven restaurants may serve customers in the incubator restaurants. 

Jeff McVay, the city's downtown renovation manager, told the city council last week that the project aims to help close or reduce restaurants during the pandemic. 

McVay said: "Our main goal is to help restaurants directly affected by COVID." 

Mesa plans to use part of the funds it allocates through the American Rescue Program Act to develop the building that will house the restaurant incubator. 

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Congress approved the allocation of $1.9 trillion in ARPA funds in March to help cities and states recover from the economic impact of the pandemic. 

Mesa recently decided to use $3 million of its $53 million ARPA funding to create a high-tech crime center. 

City manager Chris Brady stated that the $3.5 million budgeted for the incubator project will be a "one-time investment" because Mesa will rely on a separate entity to operate the facility. 

The city plans to outsource the operation of the incubator to non-profit organizations like Local First Arizona, which already manages a community kitchen for entrepreneurs near Main Street and Mesa Drive. 

Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona said that the organization’s shared kitchen is currently in high demand from locals who want to learn more about the catering industry.

"We can fill it up four times, which is the number of companies on our waiting list," Lanning said. 

Mesa Mayor John Giles said that he believes that the restaurant incubator is a good use of ARPA funds and believes that the facility can have a meaningful impact on businesses in the city center. 

The mayor said: "The city center is doing very well, but there are still many black spots." "So there is still work to be done in the city center." 

Once the city center location is selected for the incubator, city officials will submit a contract to the council for final approval. 

More information about the project can be found here. 

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