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Mess Hall food incubator hopes to open in 2 weeks

Mess Hall, a food incubator soon to open in Edgewood

Founder Al Goldberg outside Mess Hall in Edgewood

Mess Hall DC, a food incubator and shared kitchen space for food startups, is hoping to open in the next two weeks, according to founder Al Goldberg.

Situated in a warehouse right off the Metropolitan Branch Trail in Edgewood, the two-story building is undergoing some major renovations to get it fitted out to hold up to 100 members in big shared kitchens.

The space also has a "front-of-house" with a demonstration kitchen and room for guests, so Mess Hall members can host classes, events and more, without leaving the "office."

Mess Hall is currently accepting applications for charter members but is playing its cards pretty close to the vest in terms of who might be joining. What we do know is that on Sept. 27, the winner of the Launch Pad competition will win a free 6-month membership to the incubator as well as a host of other prizes, including up to a $500,000 investment from Equity Eats, a new food crowdfunding initiative. (Equity Eats is still figuring out how to navigate the legal intricacies of the crowdfunding world, but Goldberg promises that  they're working on it.)

Launch Pad finalists include Lulu's Ice Cream, which makes ice cream instantly using liquid nitrogen; Fruitcycle, which makes snacks from produce that would otherwise be thrown away; Singer's Significant Meats, a sausage company with the best tagline ever; and Mason Dixie, which has been popping up all over town to sell biscuits to hungry Southerners and Northerners alike.

Whoever wins the competition will be joining a really nice crowd. Goldberg says that "rule #1 in the contract" is literally a "no assholes rule." In other words: be supportive or you're out.

The building itself dates from the 1950s, according to city records. Goldberg says it was once owned by media company Kiplinger, and it may have been a printing press.

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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