Ten members of Texas Roadhouse’s food innovation team recently moved into new digs in the Russell neighborhood.
Texas Roadhouse now is renting space in Chef Space, a 13,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art food business incubator located at 1812 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd.
The employees will keep offices at the steakhouse chain’s corporate headquarters off Dutchmans Lane, but for the first time, the food team will have a test kitchen where they can try out new ingredients and dishes. Previously, they took over the kitchen in a Texas Roadhouse store, said Travis Doster, spokesman for Texas Roadhouse.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to support the Russell neighborhood,” Doster told Insider, adding that the nonprofit Community Ventures, which runs Chef Space, reached out to the company about renting kitchen space.
Texas Roadhouse looked at buying and renovating the former Jay’s Cafeteria, now Chef Space, about six years ago, but nothing happened with it.
The chain, which has more than 500 locations around the world, is not the typical Chef Space tenant. The incubator mainly focuses on nurturing startups until they can afford move into a space all their own.
“This partnership will help to cultivate opportunities for sharing best practices with current Chef Space members as well as West Louisville residents,” Community Ventures stated in a news release. “With Texas Roadhouse joining the Chef Space family, it is important that Chef Space’s current and future restaurant partners work together with our new food entrepreneurs to create a healthy and sustainable environment for ingenuity and productivity.”
Texas Roadhouse leadership connected with the mission of Chef Space, Doster said, because founder Kent Taylor was once a small-time food entrepreneur.
“That is what really, really touched us,” he said, adding that the company hopes to bring in staff from various divisions such as legal, design and accounting to help other tenants of Chef Space. “Can we mentor of these folks? How can we help?”
Chef Space opened in fall 2015. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.