St. Louis' Old North restaurant giveaway narrows to 10 finalists | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis' Old North restaurant giveaway narrows to 10 finalists

Jun 6, 2017

Some lucky St. Louisan is one step closer to winning a free restaurant space in the Old North neighborhood, across from Crown Candy Kitchen.

The Fantasy Food Fare Business Competition has announced its top 10 finalists for a package worth $100,000. Lynette Watson of the St. Louis Small Business Development Center said the list represents a wide variety of concepts. (See the full list below.)

“We have everything from French fusion, all the way to desserts and soul food,” Watson said.

Finalists ‘could tell the story’ of the neighborhood

Contestants are vying for a nearly finished 4,464-square-foot space equipped with walk-in freezers, food-prep areas, a ventilation system and even the kitchen sink, at 2720 N. 14th St. The prize package offers two years’ free rent with an outfitted kitchen, mentorship and marketing assistance.

More than 200 applications were submitted after the process began in January. Organizers released a top-25 list in May.

To make it into the top 10, applicants had to show they had the cash and other support to sustain themselves beyond the two-year term. The ability to understand the surrounding area was also a priority.

Applicant Yashica McKinney, left, talks with Lynette Watson with the St. Louis Small Business Development Center on Jan. 4, 2017, at the restaurant contest event. The Parks sign is from a former business in the building, according to a competition co-sponsor.
Credit File | Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

“The ones that stood out really could tell the story of how they were going to impact and include themselves in the neighborhood,” Watson said. “They also talked about how what they were doing was different — 'why me instead of someone else?'”

Applicants promised to support the neighborhood in a number of ways, including offering cooking classes for children, providing nutritional information for adults and hiring local residents.

Four organizations are sponsoring the competition: a nonprofit revitalization group called Rise; the philanthropic arm of Equifax, Inc.; the University of Missouri Extension’s Small Business Technology and Development Center;  and the North City Business Development Center.

Organizers predict the restaurant should get a big boost from the new $1.75 billion National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency coming to north St. Louis. When NGA construction begins in 2018, it could bring in a wave of workers looking for lunch spots.

The next steps include a July 11 business-plan pitch and tasting in which the top 10 prepare a signature dish. The top three will be notified on July 25. Those on the short list will prepare an entire meal for the judges on Aug. 8. The winner will be announced Aug. 19.

Here’s the full list of the 10 finalists:

  • Old North Provisions- James Forbes (Organic)
  • Rhythm and Thyme-Chris Bell (General)
  • Miss Leon’s-Leon Braxton (Soul Food)
  • Park’s Meat and Three-John Perkins  (Nonprofit enterprise with social-work and restaurant goals)
  • Layla North-Jason Sparks (Burgers)
  • Mable Brown Restaurant-Euylan Welch (American/French Fusion)
  • Simply Sweet Sensations, LLC-Jair Bush  (Bakery, Comfort Food)
  • The Jar Bar-Yashica McKinney (Desserts/Soul Food)
  • Amighetti’s Old North-Anthony Favazza (Italian)
  • Grass Roots Eatery-Richard Wolf  (Mediterranean)

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