Gourmet food production hub opening soon in Northeast

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April 10, 2014
By: Ben Johnson
Kieran Folliard
file photo
Ben Johnson
New artisan meat, cheese companies and Chowgirls Catering will soon be headquartered in a renovated warehouse on Marshall St.

A new artisanal food production hub tentatively named Food Building is beginning to come together in a renovated warehouse owned by local entrepreneur Kieran Folliard.

Chowgirls Catering, Red Table Meat Company and Skyway Creamery will soon join The Digging, a small business consulting firm that has already settled into the 31,000-square-foot building at 1401 Marshall St. NE.

Folliard, a native Irishman who founded four Irish pubs in the Twin Cities along with 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey, has been working to open the small business accelerator since purchasing the site in March 2013.

Two of his sons, Tyrone and Seamus, will be working in there. Tyrone is serving as general consul for The Digging, (formerly known as Driven Donkey) and Seamus will be running Skyway Creamery with former Caves of Faribault cheesemaker Reuben Nilsson.

“We’re planning to start with a semi-soft, washed rind cheese, and we’ll also do some fresh cheese, probably a little bit of cheese curds for the local market when we first get started,” said Nilsson.

Nilsson said they’re still working on getting a construction permit, but he hopes to have fresh cheese available at local co-ops and grocers by mid-August.

The Food Building at 1401 Marshall St. NE -- photo by Ben Johnson

The Food Building is strictly a production facility, meaning it won’t be selling prepared food like a restaurant would, but it will have an event space called the Tasting Room where people can walk in, try samples, and learn more about the companies operating there. The Tasting Room will also be rented out for small-scale private events and cooking classes.

“We really look forward to being a part of the community, and working with the neighborhood to see what types of uses people come up with,” said Tyrone Folliard.

With two of Kieran’s sons involved in the new business venture, it appears that The Digging’s name is a reference to the exploration of paternal legacy in the poem “Digging” by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. The Digging will offer a la carte legal, human resources, accounting, planning and marketing expertise to small businesses and fledgling start-ups.

Formerly called Green Ox, then Three Sons, Red Table Meat Company has received USDA approval and will be the first company producing food in the building. Red Table is headed up by renowned charcuterie specialist Mike Phillips, who most recently worked at the Craftsman restaurant in Longfellow neighborhood.

Phillips did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but according to Tyrone Folliard he hopes to begin butchering pigs and curing meat in his space within the next couple of weeks.

Chowgirls founders Heidi Andermack (L) and Amy Brown (R) -- photo by Becca Dilley

Chowgirls Catering will move its kitchen/event space five blocks west from 1222 2nd St. NE to the Food Building in late fall or early winter.

“We wanted to stay in Northeast, that was a priority for us, and we had a good friendship with Kieran before he started on this project,” said Amy Brown, who founded Chowgirls with friend Heidi Andermack in 2004.

Chowgirls plans to build a 900-square-foot addition to the building that will allow it to continue to host events that serve alcohol. It will be similar to the “Parlor” space at Chowgirls’ current spot.

Prior to Folliard’s purchase 1401 Marshall St. NE was a fleet maintenance and warehouse facility for a uniform cleaning and repair company. A 2012 proposal to repurpose the property into a tire and rim store was denied by the City Planning Commission due in large part to strong neighborhood opposition.

Ben Johnson // 612-436-5088 // bjohnson@journalmpls.com // @johnsonbend