Columbus, OH: Microlending Group Opening Commissary to Boost Food Cart Biz

by Dan Eaton |

The Economic and Community Development Institute wants to get food out of the kitchen and onto Central Ohio’s streets.

The microlending organization plans to open its Food Fort Columbus commissary, 737 Parkwood Ave., next week. It’s a multi-phase project that will begin with a focus on the food cart business.

“This is a program to create jobs and help businesses expand,” Stephen Brady, ECDI director of business operations and head of Food Fort Columbus.

The 8,000-square-foot commissary is off Old Leonard Avenue on the city’s near east side. For now, it offers storage for up to 25 food carts of varying sizes.

Carts can be rented for as little as one day – for festival use as an example – or leased for up to five years, with an option to buy, Brady said.

“It’s an excellent entry point to the business,” he said.

The program also is courting experienced restaurant operators who may want to try their hands at mobile vending.

Members get other benefits as well, including discounted legal and financial services from ECDI.

Brady said the food cart program is the first step in the vision for the commissary. He declined to share the timeline, but said future expansion likely would include a kitchen and, potentially, a program to bring fresh Ohio produce and meats to the site and its members.

“It’ll be very synergistic,” he said.

ECDI has been active in its food entrepreneur efforts through its Growing Entrepreneurs initiative.