Patta Arkaresvimun has spun her career as a creative director studying trends into a business that understands and anticipates what food startups need to get off the ground and thrive.
That business became a café, co-working kitchen and online platform she dubbed BiteUnite. Arkaresvimun, who is originally from Thailand, opened the first BiteUnite in Hong Kong in 2016. In October, she brought the concept to the U.S. for the first time, opening in San Francisco’s Mission District.
At this second outpost of BiteUnite, Arkaresvimun welcomes chefs looking to create pop-up restaurants — BiteUnite even has a liquor license — as well as entrepreneurs looking to rent kitchen space to test or grow a food business. Chefs have a three-month residency minimum.
Arkaresvimun hopes that BiteUnite’s services and its supportive community can help chefs and entrepreneurs handle all the hurdles they’ll face along the way to success.
As Arkaresvimun sees it, young people with full-time jobs who dream of opening their own restaurant or food business are scared to make the leap.
“It’s just so much risk,” she said. “BiteUnite evolved to be a platform that helps support someone who would like to start a food business.”
Through Arkaresvimun’s previous positions forecasting trends, she frequently studied Millennials. And she uses that work to understand what the young members of BiteUnite need and want in order to start their own restaurants or food businesses.
“Millennials, they want to be social,” she said “If they're going to be cooking as a hobby or to sell their food, they don't want to be in a back kitchen. They want to be in a kitchen that is the center of the space, and they can hang out with their friends and be social.”
With this in mind, Arkaresvimun created an open co-working kitchen at BiteUnite where customers and chefs can interact, a rarity for commercial-kitchen setups.
The café is another way chefs and entrepreneurs can connect to and gain critical feedback from customers.
“The café is a key element of BiteUnite, it’s not because we want to be another café,” she said. “I think the café is the place for the chef to be able to interact with the real consumer.”
That critical feedback requires customers, though, but BiteUnite helps with this, too.
“A lot of people who start food businesses, they’re one man who does everything from cooking to selling and marketing, but when it comes to cooking, your hands should be busy with cooking,” Arkaresvimun said. “You don't have time to think about selling, taking photos and those types of things. So, the benefit of having a BiteUnite community kitchen is we have a team to support them.”
Arkaresvimun takes care of social media promotion, and with the online platform, which is available in Hong Kong and will soon be available in San Francisco, customers can buy goods, sign up for pop-up dinners or even cooking classes.
The online platform will also allow chefs to sign up for kitchen time. Another issue Arkaresvimun sees with most commercial kitchens are their fixed schedules — not conducive to an entrepreneur working a food business on the side of a full-time job or taking last-minute orders, she said.
In October, the space opened with two local chefs. Luis Villavelazquez is a pastry chef looking to expand his own baking company, Les Elements.
Patrick Wong fits squarely into the side-hustling-food-entrepreneur segment to which BiteUnite caters. Wong works in public relations and as a writer. But his budding Asian-influenced milkshake company, Thick, is what he’ll be working on at BiteUnite.
“BiteUnite is the perfect landscape for aspiring food entrepreneurs, offering a highly supportive community with a built-in testing ground for chefs to receive feedback directly from café patrons,” Wong said in a BiteUnite news release. “I finally get to share my passion with the public.”
Contact Gloria Dawson at [email protected]
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