FAIRBORN — Spark Fairborn officially reopened to the public Wednesday, allowing chefs and other members of the organization to show off their culinary works. Spark hosts a plethora of diverse businesses, and the city of Fairborn hopes to expand the types of entrepreneurs it serves in the coming days.
Spark includes a conference room, co-working space, a large kitchen, and a space to host cooking demonstrations. The facility also has spots to hook up video cameras so chefs can record videos of their demonstrations and post them to social media.
Spark also has a brand new podcasting room complete with the necessary equipment. The city of Fairborn is currently working on starting a podcast of its own.
Currently, Spark supports 10 permanent members, most of whom are culinary specialists. Jon Gum, founder of Gumball Alley, cooks on average 15 meals per night four days a week.
“I started with cooking classes,” he said. “I didn’t even have an idea of doing the meals, and then COVID hit.”
Gum started creating meals for delivery and takeout in January of 2020. Throughout the pandemic, his business model was successful, and he has expanded into catering and food truck services. Gum has also catered for Dave Chappelle.
“I’m willing to do it, and being here I can,” he said. “That’s the cool part. It saves me prep time and I can come and go as I please.”
Spark was founded in 2018 as the only facility of its kind in the Dayton area, and continues to hold that title today. Marty Watson, a Lima resident, owns a store in Dayton, but the drive to Fairborn is worth it for the resource Spark provides.
“It’s hard as a mobile business finding a place that you can work out of, unless you have a brick-and-mortar business,” Watson said. “This is a really good opportunity. It’s a beautiful space, it’s a beautiful kitchen, there’s a lot of great energy here.”
Watson started her company, Cabin Fever Confections, in Fairbanks, Alaska in 2017. Watson creates cookies and other baked goods that are vegan, gluten-free, and are made with ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients.
“It’s what I enjoy and where I’m at,” she said. “I enjoy working with farmers and local companies, and the camaraderie between local restaurants and local markets.”
In addition to the large kitchen, which can support up to six chefs working independently at a time, Spark also offers an opportunity for various entrepreneurs — not just chefs — to connect and share what they have to offer. Nathan Collier is a freelance marketing strategist, and is the longest-running non-culinary member of the organization. Collier has recorded episodes of his podcast at Spark, and considers the space a productive writing environment. During the coronavirus pandemic, Spark continued to operate on a reduced scale.
”The city did a great job, letting us use the space in a way that’s safe,” Collier said.
Reach London Bishop at 937-502-4532 or follow @LBishopFDH on Twitter.