Montreal company The Foodroom, which offered kitchen and business space to fledgling cooks, caterers, and other food companies, has gone under, unable to make enough cash to keep going.
But most interestingly in this case, where other businesses might not want to publicize their shortcomings (in Eater’s experience, closed-down restaurants are often reluctant to speak), company owner Amélie Morency took to self-publishing platform Medium to break down how her start-up fell apart.
The idea of The Foodroom was that it was effectively a commercial kitchen for rent, but in a flexible way. In buzzword-heavy start-up talk, it was an “incubator”. Translation: it would help smaller food businesses get off the ground — for example, someone who wants to cater part-time, and it wouldn’t be worth their money to rent a permanent space. It would also work for food trucks — in Montreal, food trucks are required to have access to a brick-and-mortar kitchen.
The Foodroom seemed promising — Morency secured a solid investment on the Quebec version of business TV show Dragons’ Den (Radio-Canada’s Dans l’oeil du dragon) in 2016, and such concepts have worked elsewhere. But Morency writes that the business spent months “kicking the can”, trying to get around increasing debt. A key problem was that Foodroom was a not-quite-established business selling to other not-quite-established businesses — that meant a lot of instability.
“Sales are fucking hard. In our case, they were particularly hard because we were selling to a lot of startups that had their own cash flow issues.”
The loss of Foodroom is something of a shame — it was a decent avenue for small upstarts without hefty investments to get off the ground, run by someone who seems interested in offering a valuable service instead of making a quick buck Morency notes that she was adamant that her staff must be paid, even when the company was struggling, something not every struggling business does.
In any case, Morency notes that she’s still looking to run businesses in the future, with a greater degree of success.
- Autopsy of a Startup [Medium]
- 8 Awesome Rental Kitchens [The Foodroom]
- Dans l’oeil du dragon [Radio-Canada]