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Multi-use kitchen and business space opens creative culinary options in Pine Island

Pine Island's dining scene is slowly growing, and a business in town, Pi-Co Works, provides opportunities for those wanting to enter the restaurant field with a place to grow without risk.

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John Mangouras and Jacob Petersen in the kitchen space at Pi-Co Works that has launched the beginning or revitalization of people's culinary careers.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin
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PINE ISLAND — The former A&W in Pine Island has become more than just a restaurant space in the last year and a half.

John Mangouras, commonly known as Johnny Mangos, along with business partner Jacob Peterson, took over the vacant fast food joint in May 2020 and turned it into a multi-use business and kitchen for individuals and businesses to rent out.

After a year of renovations the Pine Island Cooperative Works (Pi-Co) opened in May 2021.

“There's two components to the building, there's the open lounge area which can be rented for anything from private parties to business meetings,” said Mangouras. “Then the kitchen space can be used for any caterers, ghost kitchens or aspiring chefs to build up their craft.”

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“What we really focus on is the food side, the heart of it is the food,” added Petersen. “That's the fun part and there's a lot of cool opportunities to use the space in addition to this open area for dining and business use.”

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There have been many people who have been utilizing the kitchen space for a day since Pi-Co opened and are able to sell their food in the lobby area. Patrons utilizing the space for a day rent out the kitchen for $23 an hour while premium members pay $18 an hour and can store their goods in the space for later use.

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The front end kiosk at Pi-Co Works where food vendors and culinary newbies can sell their foods to the public wanting to try them.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

“We get to meet a lot of wonderful people. It really is a cooperative kitchen and if you're a seasoned pro, but you don't want to have your own brick-and-mortar space, this is a spot for you. Or if you're a really great caterer, you can rent the kitchen by the hour, cook for your party and be done,” said Mangouras.

There is also a point of sale system that is available to have any vendor sign into and sell their foods with ease.

“It works pretty well to help provide growth for people and their growing businesses, especially with a drive thru still intact that we have established to be utilized,” said Mangouras.

As Mangouras and Petersen enter the new year, they hope to see greater growth of Pi-Co with events beginning in the spring time as well as providing more opportunities for food trucks to operate in the parking lot as the weather warms.

Having the Pi-Co space available for people to rent on an hourly basis makes the commitment and struggles for people to experiment in the culinary field all the more easier while still keeping a full time job.

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The office, business and dining space at Pi-Co Works, housed in the former A&W in Pine Island on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

“If we could have it perfect, we would have a bakery/coffee shop here and then some couple of cool different food vendors that want to showcase something but not have to do it full time," Mangouras said. "The flexibility really draws people in to be creative in the culinary field.”

Those interested in wanting to rent the space at Pi-Co for either business or culinary use can contact either Mangouras or Petersen at 507-218-1156.

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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