Hope & Main to expand to Providence

Hope & Main, a premier food business incubator, is moving into Providence with a Downtown Makers Marketplace in the Financial District and the development of shared used kitchens in the city’s West End.

The incubator’s founder and president, Lisa Raiola, announced that, in early 2023, Hope & Main will debut its Downtown Makers Marketplace. This new urban eatery and local market will occupy the ground floor of Paolino Properties’ 100 Westminster Street office building, adjacent to the Beatrice Hotel and the Superman Building in the heart of the Financial District. Open for breakfast and lunch, the Downtown Makers Marketplace, will offer hand-crafted and locally sourced made-to-order items, grab-and-go hot and cold foods, corporate catering, plus a curated selection of Hope & Main members’ products and prepared foods. It will also feature a coffee, tea and craft beverage bar anchored by Schasteâ, a Providence tearoom that is also a Hope & Main member business.

The Downtown Makers Marketplace is designed to highlight Hope & Main’s culinary creators. As part of an innovative incubation program to test drive new food ideas, Hope & Main entrepreneurs will prepare and sample items representative of their business concepts and unique food heritage ranging from places like Ethiopia and Trinidad, to Israel and Mexico, to Cambodia and the Philippines.

Raiola says, “The Hope & Main Downtown Makers Marketplace is a place dedicated to showcasing the enormous talent of our emerging and iconic member businesses. We have launched more than 450 food businesses in nine years. This project is about giving our diverse community of food-preneurs access to markets and consumers they could not otherwise reach. It is very costly for new brands to find their way to grocery store shelves or onto menus of established restaurants, and that makes it challenging for them to scale. We know how good these products are and can’t wait to accelerate the success of these makers.”

The 100 Westminster Street venue will support what’s new in local food and will create opportunities to explore the foodways of many cultures that increasingly define Rhode Island’s signature culinary landscape.

Forty percent of Hope & Main’s entrepreneurs are founders of color – and, according to Hope & Main, that “is what attracted the Papitto Opportunity Connection to invest in [our] mission. From the moment Barbara Papitto stepped into [our] kitchens in Warren she understood how the incubator’s affordable and accessible shared use space is transforming what is possible for entrepreneurs of color.”

Papitto said, “I walked out of there with armloads of products and food that I knew I wanted to share with more Rhode Islanders. The Papitto Opportunity Connection believes that the ability to launch a sustainable food business is a vital path to economic mobility, particularly for immigrants and refugees, because it is familiar and feels attainable. We want to support these entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality. Hope & Main lowers the barriers to this complicated journey, and the Downtown Makers Marketplace will offer another innovative channel to promote these small businesses and help them to grow and thrive. We are proud to support this project.”

Over the past two years, Hope & Main has felt the pull of increasing demand for kitchen time from aspiring food-preneurs. Says Raiola, “Post-pandemic we’ve seen a surge of folks leaving traditional food service jobs seeking to create their own food businesses. About half of all these inquiries are coming from the Greater Providence area, and many are from members of historically underserved communities. We want to meet these entrepreneurs where they are, and that means building additional shared use kitchens in the city.  We are currently in negotiation for a facility located in the West End of the city where we can equip three new shared used kitchens as well as build out kitchens for Hope & Main graduates. The Providence kitchens, along with the Warren location, will be a feeder to the Downtown Makers Marketplace.”

Joseph R. Paolino Jr., former Providence Mayor and owner of Paolino Properties, has been a key collaborator on the project from its inception, helping to convene the various partners, and ensuring that Hope & Main had both the financial and tangible resources needed to make it a reality. He says that he immediately recognized the potential for Hope & Main to attract a new audience downtown, between those who live and work in the city and the influx of visitors.

“The Downtown Makers Marketplace is a fresh idea that will engage workers and tourists alike in Rhode Island’s food start-up culture,” he says. “The opportunity to partner with Lisa Raiola, a true visionary in this space, and the Papitto Opportunity Connection on a concept that is ‘more than a marketplace,’ is a game-changer — not just for our building but for the economic development of the downtown financial district. As people return to the office and travel resumes with gusto, people are seeking new amenities, healthy food options, and captivating experiences. Hope & Main Downtown Makers Marketplace accentuates our State’s greatest assets: our ability to collaborate and create great food, while also serving the needs of our community. I couldn’t be prouder of this endeavor.”

Raiola comments, “Since the day we opened our doors in Warren nine years ago, people have asked us two questions. Why doesn’t Hope & Main have a market and why don’t you have kitchens in Providence? Now, with the good help of the Papitto Opportunity Connection and Paolino Properties, we can check both boxes.”

Follow the progress of the Hope & Main Downtown Markers Marketplace at to find out more about featured makers, menus, and marketplace offerings.

About Hope & Main:  Serving as Rhode Island’s premier food business incubator and regarded as one of the nation’s most innovative since 2014, Hope & Main has helped over 450 food and beverage businesses to launch, scale and thrive. The 501c3 offers shared-use, code-compliant kitchens, business and technical assistance, access to markets and connections to capital for aspiring food-preneurs. Hope & Main’s mission is to empower an inclusive community of entrepreneurs to launch and cultivate thriving food businesses that are the foundation of a more just, sustainable, and resilient local food economy.

About the Papitto Opportunity Connection: The Papitto Opportunity Connection (POC) is a non-profit private foundation dedicated to listening and working together with Rhode Island’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities to empower and create individual success stories by investing in education, job skills training and entrepreneurial ventures. Visit to learn more.

About Paolino Properties: Paolino Properties is a fourth-generation, family-owned and operated real estate investment, development, and management company. Led by Managing Partner Joseph R. Paolino Jr., Paolino Properties is one of the largest family-owned commercial real estate companies in New England, managing over 40 properties at a total of nearly 3 million square feet. With a diverse portfolio of retail, commercial, residential, and hospitality properties, the company has experience in partnering with a wide-ranging client base in Providence and beyond. In addition to 100 Westminster Street, a Class A office building where the company is headquartered and which is a part of the iconic Providence skyline, Paolino Properties owns The Beatrice hotel and a variety of Class A and Class B commercial properties, retail shopping centers, high-end residential developments, The Marina at Brown & Howard Wharf – a world-class marina in Newport, and more than 1,000 parking spaces within the city of Providence.

Editor’s Note: Alison Mountford, RINewsToday contributing chef, comes to us from Hope & Main. Her company, Ends + Stems is a member. Check out her weekly recipes – HERE!

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