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Restaurant incubator Smallman Galley marks its first year by seeking a new class, and with two New Year’s events

“It’s gonna catapult their careers to the next level no matter what they do.”

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Tyler Benson (left) and Ben Mantica - PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF SWENSEN
  • Photo courtesy of Jeff Swensen
  • Tyler Benson (left) and Ben Mantica

This restaurant-incubator idea seems to be working. A year in, owners of Smallman Galley say their first four chefs are doing well, and that at least two want to run their own restaurants. Meanwhile, Dec. 31 is the application deadline for the Galley’s second class — as well as the date of two big New Year’s celebrations at the popular Strip District venue.

Tyler Benson and Ben Mantica have received national media for co-founding the nation’s first such incubator. Each chef runs an independent kitchen with a unique concept, rent-free; the Galley takes a cut of revenue to cover marketing, advertising, maintenance, utilities and training in business skills for the chefs, who’ll get additional help should they strike out on their own upon graduating.

Chefs Stephen Eldridge (Provision PGH), Rafael Vencio (Aubergine Bistro), Jessica Lewis (Carota Café) and Jacqueline Wardle (Josephine’s Toast) have six months left in their 18-month session. “It’s gonna catapult their careers to the next level no matter what they do,” says Benson. 

The second class will run just 12 months, benefiting both chefs and customers who want faster turnover, says Mantica: “Every year we can basically reinvent the whole place.”

Customers can ring out the year with the Galley’s five-course New Year’s feast ($155) — prepared, of course, by its four chefs — or its second annual, late-night craft-beer-focused Brew Year’s Eve ($75). Or do both for $205.

54 21st St., Strip District. www.smallmangalley.org


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