Forage Forges Forward to Downtown
community space/commercial kitchen relocating to Barstow Street
Forage was founded in 2015 with the goal of creating a space for locals to celebrate, enjoy local food, and gather for unique events – and that’s something owner Meredith Kervin Blankenheim plans to continue at Forage’s new home, 403 S. Barstow St.
“Moving to Barstow felt like a natural next step for Forage and its growth,” said owner Kervin Blankenheim. “It means bringing Forage’s events to a more accessible location with a few more amenities and into the downtown business community. For both private and Forage-hosted public events, being downtown is so convenient and means we’re able to reach more people more easily.”
“Moving to Barstow felt like a natural next step for Forage and its growth.” –Meredith Kervin Blankenheim, owner of Forage
In contrast to Forage’s original home in Banbury Place, one of the biggest additions at the new space will be the creation of an Artisan Market, featuring local food, art, home goods, and more that will be open on days when there are no private events in their venue space. “Our community has an incredible number of makers of all sorts of things, and I want Forage to be able to introduce customers to what is available right here in the Chippewa Valley,” Kervin Blankenheim said.
Forage also hopes to work with new businesses and customers in their shared-use commercial kitchen. It’s not easy (or inexpensive!) to create a commercial kitchen, so this is a unique opportunity for locals, Kervin Blankenheim said. She also plans to host artist showcases, cooking classes, increase partnerships with downtown businesses, and add more to their online store – with a number of exciting announcements in the coming weeks.
One of Kervin Blankenheim’s favorite things about Forage is its aesthetic, which is something that will get a refresh, too. They’re bringing along their signature floating lantern ceiling, which creates a bright and airy vibe in their new space, along with other new changes. “I’m adding my own take on it, with more natural touches like live greenery and lots of natural wood,” she said. Their new location (which most recently housed Greater Midwest Mercantile) was built in 1924, and so it brings some “art deco touches” to the business’s typical “industrial chic” vibes.
Forage is by no means the first local business to move from Banbury Place to downtown Eau Claire, according to Downtown Eau Claire Inc. Executive Director Aaron White. Banbury Place – a huge former tire factory – acts as a “business incubator,” where businesses can transition from home- or online-based businesses to brick-and-mortar locations. But Banbury lacks store visibility, foot traffic, and casual pedestrians walking around, which can help a business succeed. Moving downtown also brings all the Forage frequenters to the shops downtown, which can help the economic vitality of downtown businesses.
“We encourage entrepreneurs to seek out downtown as an opportunity to build their business in an area that has undergone an incredible transformation over the last few years,” White said.
To keep up-to-date with Forage’s relocation, check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/forage.ec.