Louis DiBiccari likes projects. Chef and co-owner of the now (unfortunately) closed Tavern Road in Fort Point, he’s launched everything from a full bar and restaurant, to a social media company, to the Best of Boston 2018 award-winning Mediterranean pop-up Humaari.
His latest venture? Building a permanent home for his grandest invention, the food, drink, and art festival CREATE Boston.
DiBiccari launched Create in 2012 to combat the massive displacement of artists being purged as Fort Point transformed from a warehouse and studio haven to a neighborhood full of luxury condos. Since then, Create has popped up twice a year in spots including the Power Station in SoWa and the Boston Design Center, the whole time bringing together chefs, bartenders, artists, and vendors of all things food, drink, and craft.
Now, DiBiccari and his team are looking to establish a more permanent brick-and-mortar gallery and cocktail lounge to keep the spirit and mission of CREATE open year-round.
“This is a huge departure for me,” he says, “to step away from the kitchen and from food and to put all my focus and energy into two areas—art and the bar—that I don’t know a lot about. … It’s terrifying, but also really exciting. I like to do new things. If I can’t stop thinking about something I know I have to do it. And this idea refused to leave me alone.”
To make it happen, DiBiccari has chosen a space at the new Bow Market in Somerville’s Union Square, where he will take up residence with more than 30 other independent food, art, and retail shops around an open courtyard. The rough idea is for artist residencies to last 45 to 60 days, and to feature not only opening and closing nights, but also time between those events to have other events to promote their work. The bar, meanwhile, will feature rotating draft cocktails developed by the region’s top bartenders, while the space will also be available for private events.
“When we make decisions for Create,” says DiBiccari, “every decision goes through the same filter and we ask ourselves, Does this help develop a larger platform for artists?
“If the answer is yes, then we try to do it.”
The concept of a gallery and lounge passes that test with flying colors.
DiBiccari buzzes, “We have the opportunity to go from giving artists three to four hours a night, once or twice a year [with Create], to what, five days a week? Of having an annual event to a 45-60 day residency?
“This is a no-brainer. It’s the most natural evolution for Create. We just do it.”
Last week, DiBiccari launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to secure the gallery space. It’s critical, he says, to secure proper financing.
“The second part of our decision-making with Create is [to ask], Can we be profitable doing it at the same time?” DiBiccari explains. “As much as we want to be leading the charge for a lot of these local artists who are having trouble finding gallery space … you’re only helpful if you’re financially healthy.”
So, what’s next?
“We’re trying to figure out the business model,” DiBiccari says. “Once we start operating, it’s going to evolve. It’s going to take on a life of its own. I like to put something out and see how the world reacts to it, and try to understand it better. Once people start using whatever I’ve brought into the world, I try to get the hell out of the way.
“Now that Create is going to be out there in the world full time, we have the opportunity to develop it in different ways, add branches to the tree. … I’m really open-minded. We certainly haven’t thought of everything.
“Hospitality is in my blood. … The way I see it … we’re throwing a party every night.”
Haley is an AAN Award-winning columnist for DigBoston and Mel magazine and has contributed to publications including the Boston Globe and helped found Homicide Watch Boston. She has spearheaded and led several Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism investigations including a landmark multipart series about the racialized history of liquor licensing in Massachusetts, and for three years wrote the column Terms of Service about restaurant industry issues from the perspective of workers.