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Celebrating Mainvest Alumni Named as 2024 James Beard Semifinalists

Mainvest is proud to work with top-tier culinary talent across the country, enabling their growth through community capital.

We are thrilled to announce that four of our Mainvest alumni have been named James Beard Award semifinalists for 2024! This recognition is a testament to their culinary excellence and innovative spirit. Mainvest takes pride in collaborating with top-tier talents in the culinary world. While we acknowledge that awards are not the be-all and end-all (especially considering the historically iffy nature of award culture), it is incredibly fulfilling to see exceptional restaurants garner the recognition they deserve.

Highlighting Our Alumni Nominees:

Bocadillo Market, Chicago - Best Chef, Great Lakes Region

Chef James Martin's Bocadillo Market offers a Spanish-inspired culinary experience in the heart of Chicago. By day, this vibrant eatery serves a variety of traditional and seasonal bocadillos, combining Spanish ingredients with unique flavors to delight guests. In the evening, Bocadillo Market transforms into a more traditional dining experience with table service, featuring classic Spanish dishes. This nomination is a testament to their innovative approach and commitment to culinary authenticity.

Nightshade Noodle Bar, Lynn - Best Chef, Northeast Region

Chef Rachel Miller has created a culinary destination just north of Boston. Nightshade Noodle Bar brings French & Vietnamese-inspired seafood-focused tasting menus to the vibrant heart of downtown Lynn, featuring chic jungle vibes, friendly and knowledgable service, tropical cocktails & curated natural wines. Opening just before the pandemic in late 2019, Nightshade has been through multiple iterations to adapt to changing conditions, and that work clearly paid off: this is the second year in a row that Rachel has been nominated, highlighting the resilience and passion behind this team.

Comfort Kitchen, Boston - Best New Restaurant

Comfort Kitchen in the Upham's Corner neighborhood of Boston was one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the past year. Working directly with local partners to build the restaurant concept, community has always been at the heart of Comfort Kitchen. Offering a cozy and casual cafe counter service during the day that transforms into an intimate and lively dinner experience at night with a full bar, their food is a celebration of the ingredients and flavors of the African diaspora connected from Asia to the Americas — global comfort food. After multiple accolades in Boston press and the New York Times, this nomination is another confirmation that their mission is resonating.

Bywater, Warren - Outstanding Restaurant

Bywater, established in the summer of 2015, has been instrumental in Rhode Island’s emergence as a food and dining hotspot. Founder and owner Katie, with a background in farmer's markets and fine-dining restaurants, brought her vision to life in a quirky, mid-century garage space in downtown Warren. As a neighborhood hang-out, Bywater has become a cultural beacon, blending community relevance with a strong sense of place. Their nomination as an outstanding restaurant reflects their significant impact on the local culinary scene, and their Bakeshop (whose buildout was funded in part via Mainvest investors) opened as their latest concept this past winter.

Past Mainvest alumni nominees include Pizza Grace in Birmingham, AL, Ras Plant Based in Brooklyn, NY, and more.

Community Support: The Heart of Success

These successes are even more meaningful knowing they are driven by community support. We firmly believe that communities, not large corporations, should be the primary influencers of food culture in cities and towns across the nation. Witnessing these community-funded businesses earn such prestigious recognition underscores the strength and viability of the community capital model.

Expanding Opportunities with Mainvest

Any business aspiring to embrace community funding will find a supportive and resourceful partner in Mainvest. By leveraging community capital, restaurateurs can secure flexible funding under fair terms, maintaining their independence without the need for personal guarantees or ownership dilution. This approach not only fosters financial growth but also strengthens the bond between local businesses and their communities.

posted January 24, 2024
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