Growing in NYC: handcrafted Japanese salad dressing

Like so many food manufacturers, Masaki and Yukimi Momose started small. “It was 2013 in a shared commercial kitchen in Sunset Park, Brooklyn” Masaki recalls. “But we were determined to have our own space within three years.”

The husband and wife co-founders of MOMO dressing met their goal. Since 2015, they’ve been hand-crafting Japanese salad dressing in their own space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), a modern industrial campus on the Brooklyn waterfront in New York City.

Where food manufacturers grow

When the Momoses were ready to expand, BAT was a quick and easy choice. “We heard about the site from a friend,” says Masaki. “We met the leasing manager, learned about the space, and immediately knew it was right for us.”

A former military base with its heyday during World War II, BAT’s transformation into an industrial center began in the 1980s. Today, the 55-acre campus is a center of modern industry that’s home to over 100 businesses and 4,000+ manufacturing jobs.

MOMO dressing is part of a cohort of small food companies making their home at BAT’s Food Manufacturing Hub, part of the campus tailored to the needs of food makers.

There, the staff of MOMO take their fresh and local ingredients and turn them into Japanese style salad dressings, dips, and sauces—in flavors like yuzu jalapeño, caramelized onion, sesame, and more.

The Food Manufacturing Hub is flexible by design, as is much of the campus. As businesses grow, they can move to larger spaces within BAT, a flexibility Masaki and Yukimi have taken full advantage of for their growing business.

“We needed more space recently and the tenant next to us just moved to larger space inside of BAT, so we just moved into their old space,” tells Masaki. Now MOMO has 5,000 square feet for its eight-person team.

The move was just the most recent chapter in MOMO’s story of growth. The Momoses started off with a single stand at a local farmers market; today, they supply supermarket chains around New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Permission granted by MOMO dressing

 

Beyond the Food Manufacturing Hub, BAT has a range of spacing options to accommodate a variety of tenant needs. Its tenants include industrial and manufacturing businesses of all sizes, from small businesses in as little as 1,000 square feet to larger tenants filling out buildings’ floorplates.

But it’s not just the space itself—BAT features ample amenities including access to loading docks, freight elevators, onsite workforce development, a waterfront location, and more.

“Also, there’s our view,” says Masaki. “We have a perfect view of the Statue of Liberty.”

Community and support

MOMO dressing isn’t just making its products at BAT, the company is reaping benefits—both from being at the campus and within New York City.

As food manufacturers, businesses in the Food Manufacturing Hub have shared experiences—from their startup-scale beginnings to the equipment and supplies they use on a daily basis. This means they can be there for each other in a pinch.

“Everyone is very nice and very helpful,” says Masaki. “And that includes the cleaning and security staff, and the management.”

BAT is managed by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), which operates the campus on behalf of the City of New York. NYCEDC’s management reflects its mission: to grow and retain businesses and jobs in New York City.

For tenants at BAT, NYCEDC’s mission translates to practices and policies that prioritize tenants’ needs and go beyond the traditional bottom line: long-term leases, affordable rent, and the kind of in-campus flexibility MOMO dressing took advantage of when they moved to a larger space. Tenants can also participate in on-site workforce development programs, along with a suite of incentives available to benefit companies doing business in New York City and State.

Especially right now, with the COVID-19 crisis hitting so many small businesses hard, a supportive environment like BAT’s is more important than ever.

“We had a drastic sales drop in April,” says Masaki. “And things will be difficult for a while, for us and the economy as a whole. But I do believe that after the shock of this pandemic, our company will be able to get back on a road to growth.”

And MOMO’s three essential attitudes—”Active, Positive, Never Give Up”—can only help.

To learn more about Brooklyn Army Terminal and about doing business in NYC, visit bat.nyc.

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