Offsite 222, an event venue in downtown Springfield, opening in November with plans for a restaurant incubator underway

By November, Alfredo Orejuela expects 222 Worthington St. to be a bustling place. It’s the location of a new venture called Offsite 222, an event venue for wedding rehearsals, political events, art exhibits and more.

Offsite 222, however, is only the first phase of a two-phase business plan, Orejuela said. The second phase is to create part restaurant incubator, part “ghost” kitchen, called The Standard, where budding restaurateurs can rent a commercial kitchen on the building’s second floor for pop-up catering events and other restore operations.

Orejuela is in partnership with the owners of 1636 North, a restaurant at 220 Worthington Street, to start this ambitious multi-phase business plan. Offsite 222 will offer a 2,500 square foot area that can accommodate up to 150 people. Rashad Ali and Julianny Molinary own the restaurant and Orejuela owns the buildings at both locations.

They plan to create a unique event venue with a focus on developing local culinary talent.

“Phase one of how we envision the central space is a complex entertainment space for private events,” Orejuela said. Over the next year, he said he and his partners hope to have the second floor renovated and a commercial kitchen built for The Standard.

Recently, The Ethnic Study CoWork Cafe & Bookstore vacated space at 222 Worthington Street, its owner saying their growing business needed a bigger space.

“The space is very versatile – it’s mostly a modern industrial event space – where people booking events can customize it to their liking,” Molinary said of Offsite 222. fundraisers and political rallies, private events, wedding rehearsals, baby showers, vendor events and possibly some Sunday football events.”

Ali and Molinary said they expect their restaurant to cater for many Offsite 222 events. “1636 will be the flagship restaurant,” added Orejuela.

“A lot of the dishes we sell here people want on a larger scale,” Ali said. “We also do a lot of private parties here so it’s another space and another area for people to enjoy.”

The restaurant, named after the year Springfield was founded, has an intimate setting with decor dedicated to the city’s history. Ali said he learned his trade working in kitchens in Southern California and in his home state of Massachusetts.

The restaurant offers dishes that offer snapshots of his life of culinary travels: fried lobster tail, fire-grilled jerk marinated chicken and New Zealand spring lamb chops, to name a few. .

1636 North opened in 2020 during the pandemic and Ali described the kitchen as a modern American kitchen.

Black and “blue” steak with spinach and heirloom tomato risotto, a dish from 1636 North.

Restaurant incubator

For restaurateurs using The Standard, the Offsite 222 site will provide a venue for pop-up catering events to showcase emerging talent. Ali and Molinary, who have extensive industry experience, will also mentor occupants of The Standard, which the owners said they hope to launch next year.

“We can match them with already experienced restaurateurs who are already in mentoring roles and have them participate in workshops that will teach them how to work with suppliers, how to negotiate with suppliers, how to properly set up marketing plans and how to really dig into the things that can become extreme cost buckets for restaurants, especially in the start-up phase,” Orejuela said.

There is a 4,500 square foot space on the second floor of the building above 1636 North where the three partners plan to renovate to create additional dining space and build a commercial kitchen. The idea of ​​the incubator is for aspiring restaurateurs to troubleshoot their menus and gain real-world experience catering and cooking for big events with guidance and mentorship, Orejuela said.

“We always wanted to create a restaurant incubator or shadow kitchen that could bridge that gap and create stepping stones for potential entrepreneurs who want to get into the restaurant and hospitality industry,” Orejuela said. A ghost kitchen is a commercial kitchen that typically does not operate for a sit-down restaurant and is optimized for meal delivery.

Renovations to the floor above 1636 North could cost up to $150,000, but Orejuela said they are applying for a grant from the Co-working space program of MassDevelopment, a state program that provides funding to community organizations.

Orejuela said The Standard will provide hourly, monthly and seasonal rates for culinary entrepreneurs, which will be significantly cheaper than raising capital for a traditional restaurant and commercial kitchen, which can reach nearly $250,000.

“There are so many risks involved in any business, and what we’re trying to do here is mitigate some of those risks upfront and provide avenues for improvement,” Orejuela said. , who has 15 years of experience in the world of startups. He owns a 3D printing company called STEAMporio, and he’s a director of Rubicon Holdings, which owns the properties at 222-226 Worthington Street and 232-236 Worthington Street, where Dewey’s Jazz Lounge is located.

Properties owned by Orejuela once housed the Fat Cats Bar and Queenies Island Kitchen. There is a large Black Lives Matter mural on the side of the building owned by Orejuela.

Worthington Street BLM Mural

The Black Lives Matter mural on Worthington Street in Springfield. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

Ali and Molinary said the restaurant incubator will give aspiring chefs and restaurateurs the opportunity to gain real-life experience before embarking on the massive endeavor of running a full-fledged restaurant.

Prior to opening 1636 North, Ali and Molinary said they ran a food truck and had the opportunity to host pop-up dining events that gave them valuable experience before opening their restaurant.

“Western Mass. doesn’t really have a lot of commercial kitchens or areas for aspiring entrepreneurs,” Molinary said. “Which is definitely something we struggled with coming into the world of food trucks as well. We hope The Standard will be an easier way to start your business for up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

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