Chicago-based FOODWORKS, a restaurant incubator with a mission to shape the future of corporate dining through a local lens, announces the launch of the IGNITE program, offering grants to women and minority owned business partners throughout the country. The first recipient of the IGNITE grant is Kyla Newcomb, the founder of Big Belly Deli located in Marlow, Oklahoma. 

Due to reduced additional funding for restaurants from the national government, FOODWORKS saw an opportunity to step in and support their loyal partners nationwide. As of April 1, 2022, they introduced a community grant program for their restaurant partners nationwide with over $100,000 available in immediate grants to enable women and minority owned vendor partners to add new equipment, expand operations or acheive certifications. Since launching the IGNITE program, FOODWORKS has been able to provide Newcomb and the entire Big Belly family with a state of the art POS system for a new location in Duncan, Oklahoma. 

Growing up in Edmond, Oklahoma, Newcomb worked in the corporate industry for over 25 years, but always knew her passion was in cooking, decorating and entertaining. In 2018, Newcomb made her dream a reality when she decided to open up a deli in Marlow. To create her extensive menu, Newcomb collaborated with local food vendors in the area to create delicious sandwiches and recipes. On August 1, 2019 Newcomb opened the doors to Big Belly Deli. 

Shortly after opening, Big Belly was impacted, like most of the restaurant industry, with the rise of COVID-19, so Newcomb knew she had to pivot her business model from the start. That’s when she came up with the concept of ‘Take & Bake’ meals for customers to heat up from their homes. The overarching support from the community through purchasing Take & Bake meals and her catering services, were able to keep her afloat during a challenging time. 

August 2022 will mark three years since opening. In addition to the extensive menu, Take & Bake meals and catering services, Newcomb started a Big Belly Deli Food Truck where she is able to travel to different locations throughout Oklahoma doing private events. 

Newcomb appreciates being surrounded by a supportive community with great employees and partners, and is eager to see where her partnership with FOODWORKS can take her in the next three years. In her mind, there is limitless potential.

In addition, FOODWORKS is proudly a part of and supported by Compass Group USA and continues to provide small business coaching, quality assurance training, marketing support and high visibility exposure for community restaurant partners nationwide bringing in new opportunities in each community they serve. This is paramount to FOODWORKS’ values and demonstrates their focus on a hyper local drive to support authentic and diverse cuisines they represent. At FOODWORKS, community is everything and they aim to light up the return of local businesses everywhere. 

Industry News, Philanthropy