Pilotworks In Bushwick Abruptly Shuts Its Doors, Leaving 185 Small Businesses To Fend For Themselves, Unable To Fill Their Orders

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The sudden closure of a food industry facility has left nearly 200 small businesses no place to cook.

Now they’re scrambling to find a new space to make and stock their supplies, CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reported.

Some cooks and caterers got a rude awakening when they went to work Saturday night at Pilotworks, a food incubator in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The kitchen space they rent was all locked up without warning.

“There was chicken still on trays. There were still food in pots and no one was there. Someone came up to us and said, ‘you have to leave, the kitchen is closed. It’s no longer in service,'” said Elizabeth Santiso of the Brooklyn Biscuit Company.

Santiso is one of 185 small business owners from bakers to chocolatiers who work out of the 200,000-square foot shared commercial kitchen that’s housed in the old Pfizer building on Flushing Avenue.

Santiso’s team bakes 1,000 biscuits every night and supplies 25 stores. But now, she and other tenants can’t fill their orders.

“I was scheduled to bake tomorrow and produce tomorrow and I can’t. So I spent most of the day today looking at other kitchen spaces,” said Anke Albert, who runs My Fit Kitchen By Anke.

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Tenants say the worst part is they were ushered out by security, with no chance to take any of their equipment and supplies.

CBS2 didn’t receive a response from Pilotworks, but its website reads in part: “It is with a heavy heart that after failing to raise the necessary capital to continue operations… Pilotworks will cease operations.”

Pilotworks has since notified tenants that they will have access to the building to remove their supplies and equipment from Monday to Wednesday, but many of these startups say it has left them scrambling to find a new work space and it may put some out of business.

“Even in our contracts we were told we would get a 10 days notice for termination. So that wasn’t even a 10 days notice. There was no notice. So people who – this is their livelihood, and you’re telling them the day of?” said David Roa, the owner of Superlost Coffee.

Roa still has enough cold brew coffee stocked on the shelves of one of his clients for now. But he and others worry about the ripple effect this closure will have on the entire local food industry.