Proof is a new food and beverage incubator and bar opening soon downtown Chattanooga. It is founded by veteran industry professionals Michael Robinson (restaurateur, investor, and formerly Chattanooga Whiskey’s COO) and Mia Littlejohn (culinary consultant and strategist). The 6,000 square foot space is located at 422 E. Martin Luther King Blvd. (where Two Sons Kitchen used to be) and is designed to serve the needs of Chattanooga’s growing food and beverage community.
“Chattanooga has an incredibly rich history as a place that makes things--from railroad cars to Moonpies--and consumer packaged goods are a category that’s currently experiencing incredible innovation and disruption,” said Mr. Robinson. “We want to support that growth and evolution with a specific focus on hands-on education, systems training, best practices, and by creating a community of supportive collaboration.”
The business is the natural next step for the Consumer Goods Accelerator program presented since 2018 by local non-profit CO.LAB where both Mr. Robinson and Ms. Littlejohn have worked as “Entrepreneurs In Residence.” More than 20 companies have gone through the program including local favorites like Hutton & Smith Brewing Company, Sequatchie Cove Creamery, and Cashew Plant Based Café.
“Proof allows us to expand on the work we already do with food and beverage startups and to share our passion for excellence and creativity with the broader food and beverage scene here,” said Ms. Littlejohn. “We’re excited to continue to partner with CO.LAB on the accelerator, to provide an educational gathering place for the industry, and to build more robust resources for Chattanooga’s diverse and growing community.”
In addition to the industry space, Proof will be a craft cocktail bar and restaurant that will showcase local talent and products from partner brands. Proof bar will be open Thursday-Saturday from 4 p.m.-12 a.m. with regular brunch pop-ups.
Kaleena Goldsworthy, creator of The Bitter Bottle, and Toby Darling, Dr. Thacher’s resident cocktail expert, are going to curate and run the bar program. Chef Chris Greer’s Lil Oso (@liloso_chx) that had been operating in the R&D kitchen at Market South, will be serving modern American comfort food from the kitchen.
“There are two sides to this project," said Mr. Robinson. "One is public facing and the other is for industry professionals. We hope to literally raise the bar in both areas." On the one hand, Proof will operate as a collaborative community with a product incubator and accelerator for food and beverage professionals to build, develop, and expand innovative ideas while learning best practices, sharing resources, and honing their craft. On the other, the bar will craft classic seasonal cocktails paired with food by some of Chattanooga’s best new chefs.
Proof will collaborate with community organizations, nonprofits, and individuals who are passionate about food, education, and empowerment. For more information and to receive updates about upcoming events follow @proof_bar_incubator on Instagram or Facebook.