During a time of great business and economic growth downtown, Downtown Cincinnati Inc. has created a new pop-up program for chefs and potential restaurant owners who want to try their hand at opening a restaurant, rent-free. Bringing together entrepreneurs, artists, makers, small businesses and local property owners to fill vacant spaces and activate downtown will benefit residents, existing businesses and visitors alike.
The City of Cincinnati’s Department of Community and Economic Development, in partnership with DCI, released a Retail Action Plan in 2016 for the Central Business District. The Pop Shop Program is a vital part of implementing the plan. It will help create opportunities for future business owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible spaces, and in turn allow them to create, expand and nurture their small business with relatively low risk.
The term “pop-up” typically refers to a retail, restaurant, event or other business that opens for a short period of time in a vacant space. In downtown Cincinnati, DCI wants to provide business owners an affordable way to test their concepts in a brick-and-mortar location, as well as generate brand awareness and create a new stream of revenue.
The Pop Shop Program was created with the goal of creating a more vibrant street-level environment. According to retail recruiter for DCI, Andrew Naab, the desire is to make downtown an "experience" that can't be replicated in a mall, and is a place for everyone.
“For our restaurant pop shop, done in partnership with Towne Properties, we are looking for those individuals or teams that have experience in the food industry (food trucks, caterers, those that work out of incubation spaces like the Findlay Kitchen) and are interested in taking their concept to the next level,” Naab says.
As for what this will bring to Cincinnati? Naab believes this will give entrepreneurs the drive to continue their business ventures.
“Starting a business is hard, and expensive," he says. "DCI and the City of Cincinnati want to make it as easy as possible to get started, as our small business community provides character, sense of place and quality of life to all in the area.”
The space, 700 Elm St., has almost everything a vendor would need, down to the cookware, plates and utensils. It is over 3,000 square feet, and could be operated collaboratively with two food vendors. Those chosen for the Pop Shop restaurant will receive free rent, but will be responsible for utilities in the space.
The goal is to have each tenant in the space for about a month, starting in January.
Applications are currently being accepted for the program, and people are encouraged to visit DCI's website or contact Naab directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.