Wendy Schmidt's ReMain Ventures announced Monday that it had acquired the former Keepers Restaurant property at 5 Amelia Drive, where it will create a "business incubator" and commissary kitchen, with the goal of improving local and regional food systems on Nantucket and across the Northeast.
The purchase price was $4.69 million. The property was sold to ReMain by the Dawson family which had operated Keepers since 2017, and before that, the popular Fog Island Cafe in downtown Nantucket for 25 years.
ReMain Ventures will be working with Nantucket entrepreneur Karen Macumber to create a food business incubator and shared commissary kitchen business in the the former restaurant property with the intention of helping local makers and producers grow regional and national businesses.
ReMain Ventures plans to create a profitable, shared-use food production facility where multiple food businesses can operate from fully licensed commercial kitchens.
"Food producers on the island currently face numerous challenges including access to year-round, stable commercial kitchens," ReMain stated in a press release. "The new business will offer increased affordability for small and mid-sized companies, access to bulk ordering of sustainable products and packaging, and the convenience of a central operator to manage and maintain a clean, safe and fully compliant kitchen."
It marks the second major acquisition by ReMain Ventures on Amelia Drive, following its purchase of the former Annye's Whole Foods property at 14 Amelia Drive in March 2021 for $1.1 million. That location has now become the Pip & Anchor market.
“Throughout its history, Nantucket has embodied the spirit of resilience, and today, as we work towards a sustainable future, we look for opportunities to support a vibrant, local food system,” Schmidt said. “The Amelia Drive property will provide space and camaraderie for small businesses across Nantucket so they can play a part in an expanding local and regional food system. In many ways across our work and investments, we hope to inspire communities nationwide to rethink the way we produce, distribute and share food.”
“ReMain has hoped to open just such a facility for years,” said Cecil Barron Jensen, executive director of ReMain. “The building at 5 Amelia Drive feels like the best option and we are really excited to work with Karen to help her build a business that strengthens our Island’s food systems, while also supporting producers and farmers from across the region.”
Working with local officials, ReMain Ventures will spend the next few months developing the concept and the uses for the facility while the team of advisors further refine programming. The advisors include James Griffin, a professor in the College of Hospitality Management at Johnson & Wales University and local restaurateurs and previous building owners Mark and Anne Dawson.
“Karen and I see a path forward that offers several potential uses including a food business incubator, a community resource center and think tank, and a commissary and small-scale food processing facility,” said Griffin. “We would also like to build a home for ongoing market research that informs improvement of the local and regional food system and sparks opportunities for education and mentorship.”
"We loved running Fog Island and Keepers over the past three decades and are excited to see what ReMain will do for the next chapter at 5 Amelia Drive,” said Mark Dawson. “We have watched ReMain support innovative food operations on Nantucket and we are pleased to see that they are imagining a community use for the building. We are thrilled for them to be the next steward of the property and look forward to helping them advance their mission. "