Benjamin Mantica, left and Tyler Benson, right, co-founders of Smallman Galley.

Tyler Benson and his partner have cooked up a business model that has national media taking notice.

This week, the Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur — who co-founded Galley Group — was recognized by Forbes magazine on its 30 under 30 Food + Drink 2019 list for the company’s innovative combination of food hall and business incubator.

Since opening their first venture in 2015, Smallman Galley in the Strip District has served as both a foodie destination and an accelerator for up-and-coming chefs in the Pittsburgh region. The 29-year old Benson and co-founder Benjamin Mantica (who is over 30) developed the idea for the business model during their time in the Navy.

“We spent some time in Southeast Asia and the Far East,” says Benson. “And there’s huge food markets and food halls with a ton of different vendors inside, with some of the best street food you’ve ever had in your life, at an approachable price point.”

A second Pittsburgh location opened at Nova Place in the North Side in 2017, and food halls in Ohio City and Detroit opened at the end of 2018. Benson and his team hope to have 13 locations across the nation by 2021.

“We started Smallman Galley to break down the barriers that exist between culinary talent and successful restaurant ownership,” Benson told NEXTpittsburgh shortly before the Smallman Street location opened. “Essentially, we want to create as many amazing new restaurants in Pittsburgh as possible. Graduates of Smallman Galley will totally disrupt the food scene here, in a positive way.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.