Paul’s Place officially opened Groundwork Kitchen, the newly built home of its culinary arts training program and restaurant located at 925 Washington Boulevard in Baltimore City’s Pigtown community on July 20, 2021 focusing on student recruitment and carryout and delivery services.
Expanded operations to include catering and sit-down dining will launch in the coming months with the onboarding of the first cohort of students.
Groundwork Kitchen, named as a nod to those who work through the ranks of a kitchen from the ground up, is a 14,000-square-foot building that houses a 100-seat restaurant and training facilities where classes of up to 20 persons aged “18 to 80” will learn front-of-house and back-of-house skills from a dedicated staff as well as guest chefs from across the area.
‘“Meals with meaning’ becomes a reality next week, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said William McLennan, executive director of Paul’s Place.
“When someone gets carryout, dines with us or chooses to have Groundwork Kitchen cater their next event, they can feel good knowing that their support is helping to develop a new workforce for Baltimore City.”
This free 12-week program operated by Paul’s Place and founded on the nation-wide initiative of FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens, is a proven model implemented in nearly 60 other facilities across the country.
Groundwork Kitchen utilizes four integral program components: culinary skills training, life skills training, hands-on experience, and individualized case management support and coaching throughout training, job placement, and for six months after graduation.
Upon graduation, all students will earn ServSafe certifications.
“This model of providing training, case management and employment is proven to stimulate the local economy, strengthen communities, and transform lives. We invite everyone to participate in launching it here in Baltimore and bringing about true change— order meals, register for the program, hire our graduates,” said McLennan.
The idea for this endeavor began when McLennan attended a conference and representatives from Catalyst Kitchens presented the model for a social enterprise culinary arts program.
“A light bulb went on, and I knew the idea and model was worth exploring for Southwest Baltimore,” McLennan said.
With the project completed and the program launching, McLennan, after nearly 20 years at the helm of Paul’s Place, is grateful to have the vision realized before retiring.
“Seeing Groundwork Kitchen become a reality has been a pinnacle of my career though I know it is just the start of something amazing for this organization and the community it serves,” he shared.
It is anticipated that Paul’s Place will provide 122 jobs and nearly $12.2 million in annual economic activity to the City of Baltimore, according to an economic impact study the organization commissioned by Sage Policy Group in 2018.
The $10 million project received substantial financing from Chase’s Community Development Banking group, The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, Neighborhood Improvement Impact Fund, Abell Foundation, T. Rowe Price Foundation, Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Cross Street Partners, and New Market Tax Credits.
In addition, significant philanthropic support came from many dedicated family foundations and individual supporters of Paul’s Place.
Anyone interested in applying for the program or placing a carryout/delivery order beginning can do so through Groundwork Kitchen’s new at: website http://groundworkkitchen.com/.