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'We want to find them a home,' What is next for tenants at the Cannery

OnBroadway explains if test kitchen closure could impact Green Bay Public Market, need for restaurant mentorship
Posted at 10:00 PM, Mar 08, 2024

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — The cannery is set to shut down in less than two weeks. I looked into some of the challenges it faced and if it could impact the Green Bay Public Market.

  • OnBroadway Executive Director Brian Johnson explains the differences between the Cannery and the soon-to-be Green Bay Public Market. He says there's still a need for startup restaurant programs.
  • There are two tenants occupying the space until it closes on March 21: Colombian Foods and Five Thumbs Up. The Cannery started with five food vendors in July 2023.
  • Ron Franklin of the Greater Green Bay Chamber said slight dips in foot traffic can be expected for new restaurants and businesses.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Eight months after its grand opening, the Cannery test kitchen plans to shut down in just two weeks.

"We knew the first two to three months, it's naturally going to be a lot busier, especially the first month or so because you're brand new," Ron Franklin, Director of Entrepreneurship for the Greater Green Bay Chamber, said.

I spoke with Franklin in January after three out of the five original food vendors at the test kitchen left just after five months of being there.

He said after those first few months there's usually a dip in foot traffic.

"It's the standard for any restaurant in the area and almost all businesses go through a slump like that three to six months after starting," Franklin said.

Now the Cannery will close its doors for good.

In a statement, the chamber said the following:

"This difficult decision is based on several factors, including the inability to address all the barriers associated with startup restaurants."

The Cannery is located off Broadway Ave. I spoke with OnBroadway Executive Director Brian Johnson.

He said the focus is on the final two tenants in the space: Colombian Foods and Five Thumbs Up.

"We want to find them a home," Johnson said. "I think that's really important to us as an organization. I know it's important to the city and to the Chamber and so we are collaborating and working together right now to bring the necessary resources together to make sure that they can thrive in that next chapter of their existence."

As a test kitchen, Johnson said the challenges it faced would not impact the much-anticipated Green Bay Public Market.

"There's programming, there's cooking classes, there's event spaces," Johnson said. "It's just the model for a public market is going to be fundamentally and foundationally different than a test kitchen."

But Johnson said nurturing startup restaurants is still a need.

"We think that it can still backfill a need in our community but do so under the auspices of a much greater vision of the Green Bay Public Market," Johnson said.

I reached out to the Chamber for comment on the Cannery's challenges and its steps to get over the slump they faced, but I have not received a response from them yet.