PilotWorks suddenly closes, displacing nearly 200 Brooklyn food vendors

BUSHWICK, Brooklyn -- You probably wouldn't expect Millie's Cuban Cafe to be the headquarters for a Brooklyn Coffee Roaster. Normally you'd be right. But for the time being, the guys at SuperLost Coffee are super lost. For the last 10 months, they've been headquartered at PilotWorks in the old Pfizer building in Bushwick.

"I mean it helped us expand," said co-founder David Roa. "It was a fantastic business model they had. It was basically a WeWork for food. What more could you want? They're giving you the space, they're giving you health inspectors, they're giving you everything you need."

Which is why almost 200 companies set up shop at the incubator. But after receiving millions of dollars in venture capital, including more than 1-million dollars from the city, this past weekend PilotWorks closed without any notice.

"It was a huge shock, haven't heard a thing from the founders of PilotWorks and We've never heard of a thing like that," said SuperLost Co-founder Craig Deahl.

When PilotWorks shutdown over the weekend there were several companies in the middle of cooking, forced to leave chicken and biscuits on the grill, as the gas was turned off. While Superlost coffee company says they'll be able to survive the sudden shutdown, for other companies it could mean their business is cooked.

"Most people are in way worse positions because of the fact that they're baking goods, they're caterers, they're doing weddings, and so everyday they need to be in there," said Roa.

On top of that, PilotWorks reportedly stiffed several of the companies thousands of dollars as part of a distribution program that helped small businesses get their products in stores. The company deleted all social media and replaced the website with a statement calling it a sad situation and claiming there were no other options.

“The news about Pilotworks was as surprising as it is alarming." a spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Corporation said in a statement. "The holiday season is a crucial time of year for food entrepreneurs, and we hope another operator will step in and work with the landlord to keep the doors open."

"We're all just left scrambling to figure out where we can find space, where we can figure out how to keep our businesses running because every cent counts to us," said Deahl.

In the meantime EDC says companies that need immediate storage space for their food and equipment should e-mail foodbusness@edc.nyc.

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