The new space in the Cortex Innovation Community will feature a creative destination restaurant and coffee bar from 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, together with free, drop-in workspace and event and meeting space for entrepreneurs provided by Venture Café.
April 11, 2018 [St. Louis] – Scheduled to open mid-2018, Venture Café’s Innovation Hall will be the first civic innovation center in the Midwest geared toward entrepreneurs and innovators. Innovation Hall will be comprised of the Civic Lounge, a free and open drop-in workspace; The Chocolate Pig, a new concept restaurant and café; and reserved event and meeting space for 4 to 300+ person gatherings.
The launch of Innovation Hall doubles down on Cortex’s mission of building and supporting a community of innovators and entrepreneurs that will establish the St. Louis region as a nationally and internationally recognized technology hub. Dennis Lower, President & CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community, says, “Creative, communal spaces are essential placemaking elements that facilitate and accelerate tech company formation, generate buzz and excitement, and make us want to come early and stay late. This is a key next step in our efforts to build a St. Louis regional community of innovators.”
Modeled after the success of Venture Café’s District Hall in Boston, Innovation Hall is a mission-driven initiative committed to expanding innovation across the community. It will be a unique space defined by its civic nature and as a gathering place for all kinds of entrepreneurs—startups, educators, nonprofits, government, artists, corporates and the community at large—with no barriers to entry.
“Creating a civic innovation space is just as vital to the St. Louis community as is attracting the presence of companies like Microsoft and Square. Through the combination of events, food, and community, Innovation Hall will increase the density of talent sharing and learning which Venture Café has created through its weekly gatherings,” says Tyler Mathews, Executive Director of Venture Café St. Louis.
Continuing Venture Café’s history of connecting educators to the entrepreneurial community, Innovation Hall will also be home to St. Louis’ first education innovation hub. Made possible by an anonymous donor, the hub will include unique events and programming focused on innovation, equity, and access in education.
In partnership with Innovation Hall, 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group will open The Chocolate Pig, a new full-service, concept restaurant. Currently, 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group owns The Caramel Room at Bissinger’s, Handcrafted by Bissinger’s, Lumen Private Event Space and 23 City Blocks Catering. The Chocolate Pig is the next evolution in their commitment to creating unique and sustainable dining experiences for their patrons.
The Chocolate Pig will offer modern, casual style dining that includes moderately priced entrées from menus featuring a mix of classic cuisines inspired by the restaurant group’s cocoa bean roots. The Chocolate Pig will be open daily for seated service during lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. The locally inspired menu of novel, light comfort foods will have a variety of offerings including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and allergy sensitive offerings. Innovation Hall will also include The Market powered by 23 City Blocks, a grab-and-go style coffee bar offering breakfast and lunch.
President and CEO of 23 City Blocks Hospitality Group, Tim Fogerty added, “Cortex’s commitment to St. Louis is evident by the community they have created. We are proud to bring our vision of culinary and catering innovation to Venture Café’s entrepreneurs who define Innovation Hall.”