Old North Provisions wins Fantasy Food Fare Competition, restaurant space in Old North

After months of planning, presentations and competition, Old North Provisions has been declared the winner of the Fantasy Food Fare Competition.

The winner was announced today, Aug. 19, at the Rise Up Festival downtown. James Forbes, who also operates urban farm Good Life Growing in north St. Louis, owns Old North Provisions.

The five-month long competition, sponsored by Equifax, Rise, the Missouri Small Business Development Center and the North City Business Development Center, was intended to attract a culinary entrepreneur to the Old North area.

Twenty-five semifinalists competed for a prize package worth $100,000 that includes two years rent-free at a fully-equipped kitchen space at 2720 N. 14th St., in Old North; a catering contract; the services of a business consultant and a restaurant mentor; website design services and maintenance for six months; logo and design services from Firecracker Press; and a $2,500 mini-grant, among other benefits.

The group of semifinalists, all of whom must have been in business at least one year or had at least one year of restaurant experience, was pared down to four finalists through a series of challenges, including business plan reviews and pitches. The final challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 8, included a food tasting with the four finalists: Old North Provisions, Rhythm & Thyme, The Jar Bar and Layla North (a second location of Layla in The Grove).

The judges included Jessica Payne of Old North Restoration Group, Stephen Acree of Rise Community Development, David Stiffler of Equifax, Robyn Heidger of Enterprise Bank, Kevin Wilson of Mission Small Business Development & Technology Center, Dara Eskridge of Urban Strategies/Choice Neighborhood Group, Jim Ottmer of Rapids Foodservice and Sauce Magazine publisher and founder Allyson Mace.

Forbes pitched Old North Provisions as a “multi-use social enterprise” that aims to unite the Old North community by providing local, affordable food.

In addition to a retail element supplying locally sourced food and other items, Old North Provisions will have a comfort food buffet for dine-in or carryout, plus a rotating menu of items from local chefs, among other amenities. It will also serve as a hub for some of Good Life Growing’s operations.

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.