Old North Provisions owner discusses plans for future grocery, restaurant
Old North Provisions owner James Forbes won the opportunity of a lifetime on Saturday, Aug. 19, and he’s ready to put his plans into action to be open by July 2018, with soft opening events in the fall.
As The Scoop reported last week, Forbes won the Fantasy Food Fare Competition, a citywide competition for two-years rent free at a commercial kitchen space at 2720 N. 14th St. in Old North, among other prizes like mentorship a catering contract.
Forbes, who also co-owners urban farm Good Life Growing, said his future grocery and restaurant aims to bring healthy, affordable food options to the area. Forbes said a friend shared the Facebook link to the contest.
“We figured no harm, no foul. We probably won’t get anywhere with this, so if we send in this one-page application, the worst that could happen is we don’t make it, and the best case scenario is, we win,” Forbes said.
Forbes said Old North Provisions’ primary purpose is to be a grocery store focusing on local products (sourced within a 500-mile radius), and hyper-local products (within 100 miles). Forbes hopes to encourage and incentivize people to embark on small-scale urban gardening – and possibly even produce a surplus that Old North could put on its shelves. Forbes said he hopes the store will offer affordable cookware and utensils.
“The vision is to first and foremost introduce a healthy food option for folks who live in and around the Old North community, and accessible to a lot of people in the North City corridor,” Forbes said. “A lot of the larger grocery stores have left over the course of the years, and all that’s left now are convenience markets that may have a small produce section. More often than not, the residents have to go without the healthy food options.”
Old North Provisions will also have a Missouri comfort food buffet and host pop-ups featuring local chefs. Forbes hopes the pop-ups will attract neighbors to the space and draw more people to North City. He wants the space to serve as a community gathering space with old-school arcade games like skee-ball and "Pac-Man."
Forbes said the next step is to distribute information about the project to the community and get neighborhood feedback on what items and amenities residents would like to have in the store.
Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine.
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