Now in collaboration with restaurateur Ris Lacoste and Union Market, Mess Hall announces the second incarnation of Launch Pad, a business plan competition to identify and launch a promising new culinary concept in Washington, D.C. The contest will narrow applicants to five finalists who will pitch their concept to a panel of industry experts during a Live Finale at Union Market's Dock5.

Aspiring entrepreneurs will be able to get their project in front of restaurant mavens Patrick O'Connell, Aaron Silverman, Drew Nieporent, David Hall and Ris Lacoste.

"Launch Pad at Union Market is a unique opportunity to help someone in our industry launch their dream; to share the fun and excitement with the community; and to instill the competitive spirit which only benefits all." Ris Lacoste, Chef/Owner, RIS.

In addition to these high profile judges, competitors will have access to a board of advisors, who are at the center of DC's food economy. These advisors will offer consultation on leasing, business plan vetting, capital raise strategies and restaurant 101.

The winner will take over a fully built out, quick service space for 6 – 12 months in the city's largest entrepreneurial food hub, Union Market. Here the concept will be put to the test. And of course…. they will also receive valuable prizes and invaluable networking opportunities.

The Winner of Launch Pad 2014, Mason Dixie Biscuit Company, was accelerated to market in December 2014, quickly becoming DC's breakfast darling. In just 4 months' time they have expanded their footprint from DC to Baltimore and Charlotte, NC.

Start-up businesses need more than an idea to get started, they need help from seasoned operators to get their ventures off the ground. "We see new and existing ideas everyday.... it would be amazing to give someone the support to be able to execute to its potential" explains Richie Brandenburg, Director of Culinary Strategy for Union Market. This competition brings together industry veterans and current operators with a range of experience in the DC community. With your collective support Launch Pad will bring a promising new business to market and accelerate its success. Have a good idea? Submit your business plan at

Key Dates:
April 16th – Contest Launches
May 11th – Registration Deadline
June 10th – Finalists Announced
July 12th – Finalists Present at the Grand Finale to be held at Union Market's Dock5


The Judges:
Al Goldberg – Founder, Mess Hall
David Hall – Investor, Revolution
Ris Lacoste – Chef / Owner, RIS
Drew Nieporent - Restaurateur, Myriad Restaurant Group
Patrick O'Connell – Chef / Owner, The Inn at Little Washington
Aaron Silverman – Chef / Owner, Rose's Luxury

"The solitude of opening a fledgling food business can be insurmountable. Launch Pad emulates Mess Hall's ethos by providing multiple layers of support. Here we are connecting promising concepts with valuable resources and top industry experts. Under the supervision of Ris, and under the roofs of both Union Market and Mess Hall, we think the Winner may soon become DC's fastest-growing concept." Al Goldberg

"Launch Pad is a cutting-edge idea that will afford opportunities to many talented people." Drew Nieporent

The Advisors:
Richie Brandenburg – Directory of Culinary Strategy, Edens
Terrell Danley – Chef, DC Central Kitchen
Eric and Ian Hilton– Restaurateurs
Eric Kessler – Founder / Managing Director, Arabella Advisors
Mike Lenard – Owner, Takorean, Former Head of the Food Truck Association
Winston Lord – Co-Founder, Venga
Spike Mendelsohn – Good Stuff Eatery, DC Food Policy Council Chair
Nick Stefanelli – Chef / Owner, Masseria
Mark Toigo – Grower

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