Norfolk small businesses looking to highlight food vendors and access to food

Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Local small business owners are hoping to highlight the diversity of the food vendor scene in Hampton Roads while also providing more access to food for communities in need.

My Commissary Kitchen opened in 2020 at 3351 Chesapeake Blvd. in Norfolk when owner Andrew Knezovich wanted to start a food truck business.

Knezovich says in order to do that, he had to have a health department-certified space.

“We decided to create our own and it turned out to be a much bigger need than we thought it would,” he said. “We’re up to 80 members now in our kitchen and we’re continuing to grow every day.”

The kitchen is a shared space for any kind of small food business: food trucks, carts, trailers, caterers and more.

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It’s not only a place where those who need a place can cook, it’s also a place where they collaborate and bounce ideas off each other.

That’s where the idea for the nonprofit organization, 757 Fork You, originated.

“I tried to talk to our members and see how their business is going and provide insight. We noticed during the winter months, business kind of slows down for everyone with tourists gone, markets closing that are usually held outside,” Knezovich said. “For me, trying to help these businesses grow, we were trying to find a way for them to vend during those slow months.”

That’s why this weekend, they’re hosting their first event.

It’s the “Frightful Foodie Fantasy” being held at Maker’s Craft Brewery and will showcase food vendors and other artisans.

But the organization isn’t just about highlighting business. It’s also about bringing business to communities that might not have much access to it.

“The main goal was to try to help our members vend and continue to do business, but we also added in that some people might not be able to access locally sourced food,” Knezovich said.

Co-owner and chef of the Market Soul food truck, Ryan Payne, moved from Los Angeles last year and opened his truck in 2020.

“Food brings people together. It sparks conversation. It removes any differences people might have and I love being able to see young and new entrepreneurs get their name out and showcase their talents,” he said.

Payne says there’s a stark difference in the food truck scene between Hampton Roads and Los Angeles, but the one here is growing.

He hopes this organization helps.

“I’d like to see this continue as a monthly event but also take it to different cities throughout the area and region. I’d like to be able to see that more opportunities can provide for the local food vendors,” he said.

Knezovich and Payne say My Commissary Kitchen is getting ready to expand with a larger location, which will feature incubator kitchens, a food hall, and a place for other chefs to have pop-up events.

Sunday’s event goes from 2-6 p.m.

Click here for the list of vendors.

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