January 31, 2020 Your Chance to Invest in Main Street: Comfort Kitchen launches Mainvest Campaign
HBI is pleased to support Comfort Kitchen partners, Biplaw Rai, Nyacko Perry, and Kwasi Kwaa, as they launch a Mainvest Campaign to raise funds for the interior build-out of the 1912 Upham’s Corner Comfort Station. Mainvest is an investment platform that connects brick & mortar businesses with investors who will benefit in the success of community businesses. In the Mainvest model, the business shares a percentage of their revenue until they repay their investors plus a return. The Comfort Kitchen team is offering investment opportunities for as little as $100 as they work toward opening their mission-driven restaurant, community space, and food incubator in the historic Comfort Station. Read about the team’s vision for the historic space.
As it nears completion of a $1.4 million restoration and rehabilitation, the Upham’s Corner Comfort Station in Dorchester, will soon become Comfort Kitchen, a daytime café and pop-up dinner experience featuring local chefs and food entrepreneurs. The former rest station constructed to serve early 20th century streetcar commuters has been vacant since the 1970s. “We are very attached to the building”, said Perry, “it’s a unique design as compared to the other buildings around the neighborhood. It also seems very international.” Rai, co-owner of Comfort Kitchen, also expressed admiration for the building, “The roof and the color scheme are combinations you can see around the world. In Nepali architecture, you can see a similar type of terra cotta roof. Similarly, the aesthetic shares some elements with Latin American architecture. We like that it has unique features and can represent so many communities.”
Perry and Rai are both residents of Dorchester, and previously had not noticed the one-story, stucco structure on the corner of the busy intersection of Columbia Road and Dudley Street. Now they see potential for integrating the building’s unique architecture into the interior design of their new business. “We are working with a potter in JP (@BostonPotter on Instagram) that will be making our bowls and plates for dinner that reflect the building’s feel”, said Rai. Perry added that, “Thereare also some ideas floating around that we might commission something like a lighting fixture or installation that looks like the building. We are conscious of how we want to integrate the interior and exterior.”
Drawing inspiration from businesses like Mei Mei, Tres Gatos, Juliette in Union Square in Somerville, the Comfort Kitchen Model embraces community engagement in their new venture, “Our space features a cozy cafe by day and a restaurant celebrating food entrepreneurs by night. Our community data showed that food is a vital aspect of community building and we are dedicated to supporting local food entrepreneurs that are helping create a more conscious and culturally competent world through their food.”
Unlike traditional fundraising, the Comfort Kitchen fundraising is based on a profit sharing model and ethical business practices that follow principles that Rai and Perry developed from a 2-month data collection project on the experiences of the Dorchester and Roxbury Community.
“We started this project with a human-centered design workshop, and one of the things that stood out in the feedback was that people have deep roots and history in the neighborhood. Dudley Square and Upham’s Corner have rich history that is important to long-time residents. Their culture and history is so profound, yet many people reported back that they don’t see themselves represented in the neighborhood. The Comfort Station is a physical representation of the future to incorporate their history in the building and its uses.”
Investments from neighbors, friends, and local businesses can support Comfort Kitchen, whose business model is rooted in three core values; collaboration, cross cultural understanding, and community building. Click here the entire business plan online. Become an investor on Mainvest.
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