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Mess Hall, a culinary incubator has launched in the Brookland neighborhood of NE Washington DC with shared kitchen and event space for DC’s food entrepreneurs. Mess Hall offers its members commercial kitchen spaces, storage and office space to launch their entrepreneurial dreams of filling our bellies with great food. Al Goldberg, founder of Mess Hall, launched the space with Launch Pad, competition to find the next great startup.

About 50 contestants, narrowed down to four finalists competed to accelerate their small business with the help of Mess Hall and the Washington, DC food community. Singer’s Significant Meats, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co, Fruitcycle, and Lulu’s Nitrogen Ice cream made it to the final round of the competition, but it was hard for the judges and audience to pick a winner. The contestants were based on several factors, the most important being company origin story, market opportunity, experience in the food industry, and product taste.

Congratulations to Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. for taking home the win to open up shop and to Fruitcycle for winning “Audience Favorite.” Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. spreads the love by making you feel like you’re in your grandma’s kitchen. Dedicated to developing a Southern-inspired farm-to-table, causal restaurant, Mason Dixie Biscuit Co. serves up made-to-order gourmet biscuit sandwiches, platters and spreads. They are bringing back approachable, affordable, and portable slow food served with love. Wait for it! They serve gluten-free biscuits too.

Fruitcycle makes delicious, healthy locally sourced snacks using produce that would otherwise go to waste. Judges tried Fruitcycle’s Apple Crisps, but Elizabeth Bennett, owner, also shared a bruschetta using peach preserves made with her mothers recipe. But here’s the catch: Fruitcycle will provide job training for women who have been formerly incarcerated, homeless, or otherwise disadvantaged. No wonder they were the audience’s favorite.

Feature photo courtesy of Mason Dixie Biscuit Co.