The Alchemist Public Market (APM) project entails land acquisition, federal grant timelines, and new construction. APM is expected to open in the first half of 2024. Participants in the Alchemist Microenterprise Academy and Alchemist Kitchen Incubator Program at present are expected to be among the first businesses to benefit from incubation and acceleration at APM.
At present, Alchemist has accepted four cohorts of incubator participants and will continue to accept two cohorts each year. The average cohort will have 5 participants, for a total of 10 new participants each year. Participants are expected to remain in the Incubator program between 2 – 5 years, with an average expected duration of 3.5 years. At any given time, the Alchemist Kitchen Incubator Program will have roughly 35 participants, 25-30 of whom will be making active use of the commercial kitchen.
These participants will receive the opportunity to incubate their business in the APM commercial kitchen throughout their business incubation. They will also have access to market opportunities in one of the outdoor food pods, at the farmers’ market and night market, or on the shelves of the retail store.
Outdoor Food Court
The 8 food pods–small permanent structures akin to food trucks, with complete commercial kitchens and vending windows–will be owned by Alchemist CDC. These will be rented affordably to incubator participants as an intermediate step toward owning their own food truck, trailer, or brick-and-mortar restaurant. They will benefit from collaborative marketing; regular on-site events; shared bussing, food-running, and dishwashing; and a streamlined ordering system. This will allow the incubator participants to focus on mastering the core skills for a food business while operating with a safety net until they are prepared to manage their own space.
The food pods will provide the public with exciting and diverse food offerings in a single location. This will prove attractive to families, groups of friends, and teams of co-workers looking for the chance to eat together without having to agree on a single restaurant. On-site beer and wine will likewise cater to those looking to unwind over a meal after work and will feature local breweries and culturally-significant wines, such as those produced by California’s growing number of black-owned vineyards.
The food court will be a vibrant and attractive space, featuring plentiful shade, greenery, colorful food pods, and comfortable seating. A safe and engaging children’s play area will encourage families to return again and again. Residents of Mirasol Village and Township 9 are sure to run into neighbors at Alchemist Public Market and so strengthen the ties that create genuine community.
Farmers’ and Night Markets
Alchemist Public Market will host weekly farmers’ markets and regular night markets. Because Alchemist has extensive connections through our CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets program, our staff has familiarity with the work of managing such markets and strong relationships with many local farmers and vendors. These relationships will facilitate vendor recruitment. Additionally, some vendors will be Alchemist Incubator participants, taking advantage of the opportunity to sell their food at a weekly market.
Our deep expertise in providing CalFresh benefits access and Market Match incentives at farmers’ markets will also allow us to make the market products accessible and affordable for low-income neighbors. Access to fresh produce is lacking in the River District and these markets will play an essential role in helping residents easily procure nutritious groceries in their own neighborhood.
Farmers’ and night markets also serve an essential role in cultivating community as repeated chance encounters between neighbors lead to the formation of friendships and resilient communities.
The interior cafe space and patio will be leased to another local non-profit, NorCal Resist, which has committed to serve as an anchor tenant running a social enterprise. They will provide job training, workforce development, and job placement for Sacramentans with high barriers to employment. Their employee participants will be trained as baristas, servers, bussers, and dishwashers, building up job experience and strengthening their resumes for permanent placement in the local food industry. We anticipate that residents of nearby housing will take advantage of this workforce development program.
Additionally, the cafe will provide residents and nearby office employees with a place to pick up a morning latte, work on a report for school, or spend time with friends. As the River District’s population booms, there will be a significant need for a “third place”, such as a warm, inviting coffee shop.
Sacramento-Made Retail Store
Many Alchemist Kitchen Incubator participants are developing packaged food products for retail sale. They face a major early obstacle in successfully placing their products on retail shelves for the first time. The Sacramento Made retail shop will provide these entrepreneurs with their first retail placement and a chance to build their brand and sales data for future retailers.
Recognizing that this same challenge is present for small makers of all kinds of products, the retail shop will also feature goods made by small local businesses and artisans, including QR codes that provide customers with context and stories for the businesses they are supporting. The Sacramento Made shop will not only provide local entrepreneurs with an important opportunity, but will also provide Sacramento locals and visitors with a single destination to discover and purchase a wide variety of locally-made products. The store will also include some basic grocery staples, to help residents access these items given their distance from grocery stores. The retail store will be managed by NorCal Resist, providing additional workforce development opportunities to the community.
The entrepreneurs incubating their businesses at Alchemist Public Market require office space from which to manage the administrative aspects of their business, hold meetings, etc. Well-designed co-working space will be available with diverse offerings for these entrepreneurs as well as to the general public, in the hope of incubating more businesses, non-profits, and community groups.