Union Kitchen Takes Over Empty Lot in NoMa For Open-Air Bazaars
Union Kitchen opened in NoMa late last year as a place for budding food entrepreneurs to access professional kitchen space and other business resources. Now, the food incubator is hoping to give the public a place to experience its members' wares. Co-founder Jonas Singer says they've leased a lot at 3rd and L streets NE, tentatively named The Lot at Union Kitchen, that could be used for markets, outdoor happy hours, food events, and more.
Union Kitchen currently has 35 members, who include Capital Kombucha, Los Verracos, Thunder Pig Confectionery, and food trucks like TaKorean and Curbside Cupcakes. The idea is to not just give the production space, but retail opportunities. "Making food is great, but the hard part is selling it," Singer says.
Singer envisions an open air bazaar on weekends, where food trucks and other vendors can sell prepared foods—from pickles to macarons to cured meats. Thursdays and Fridays will likely be happy hours with crab feasts, barbecues, or other food events plus some acoustic music. ("Nothing too raucous," Singer says.) And one day a week, Union Kitchen will work with Relay Foods to turn the lot into a grocery pick-up spot. Singer says he wants community input on how to use the space other days, but possible ideas include pet events or outdoor movie nights with screenings on the side of the building.
"The nice thing about this is it doesn't really cost us anything to use the lot, so we can kind of have fun and make it cheap and affordable and really activate what had been a blighted lot," Singer says.
Singer says he's still talking to neighborhood groups before finalizing exact plans for The Lot at Union Kitchen, but he's hoping to put it to use as soon as this month. If the liquor license application is successful, the happy hours could come later this summer.
Photos by Darrow Montgomery