Paul’s Place Planning a 21,000 Sq. Ft. Culinary Arts Training Center and Restaurant on Washington Blvd. in Pigtown

| November 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

Paul’s Place has been a part of the Pigtown community for 36 years, starting out as a small soup kitchen and forming into a community resource center at 1118 Ward St. providing hot meals, a food pantry, a nurses clinic, clothing, showers, laundry services, peer recovery, support groups, and other resources for those in need in Southwest Baltimore. Now, Paul’s Place is jumping into workforce development and the restaurant industry with the launch of a culinary arts training program, catering company, and restaurant. All of this will be housed at a three-story, 21,000 sq. ft. building at 923-933 Washington Blvd. on Pigtown Main Street.

The properties are currently the site of a surface parking lot that sits one block from Paul’s Place. For many years the property had several three-story, boarded-up buildings that were offered up in RFPs by the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) for redevelopment. In 2012, the buildings were ultimately demolished and turned into a parking lot by a developer. Two adjacent rowhomes at 919 and 921 Washington Blvd. were kept and renovated as part of the project.

Looking for a home the new culinary center, Paul’s Place purchased the parking lot in the fall of last year. The project has been in planning for three years and Paul’s Place Executive Director William McLennan was excited to find such an ideal property in Pigtown where the organization could continue to serve the community.

Also on the 900 block of Washington Blvd. is the recently-opened Suspended Brewing Company and the under-construction Bath House Square redevelopment, which will bring eight apartments and a 1,700 sq. ft. Milk & Honey Market. McLennan noted that he is looking forward to contributing to the new business growth on the block. Studies by Pigtown Main Street and Paul’s Place have shown the need for more restaurants in Pigtown.

With the Light Rail only a short distance away, McLennan talked about the opportunity for graduates of the training program to work in the food service industry anywhere from BWI to Hunt Valley.

Paul’s Place is hoping to begin construction on the “multi-million dollar” building next spring. Construction is expected to take about 10 months.

The first floor will feature a take-out counter, a full-service restaurant with a service bar, and a large kitchen that will serve the restaurant and catering company, as well as be a part of the training program. The restaurant will not have a sit-down bar, but will serve alcohol. The restaurant is expected to seat 100 patrons.

The second floor will feature a test kitchen and classroom space, and the third story will be used for office space. The design is still being refined, but it will be a brick building with a lot of windows.

The facility will have seven full-time employees and looks to graduate 60 young men and women from Baltimore each year from the training program. Paul’s Place will partner with restaurants, hotels, and catering companies to transition graduates into food industry jobs. Trainees will gain front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house experience.

Paul’s Place will release additional details about the design and restaurant as the project develops. McLennan said the project has been endorsed by chef, food writer, and television host John B. Shields.

Along with those currently utilizing the programs at Paul’s Place, the organization hopes to work with high schools, shelters, re-entry programs, and more to find prospective students for culinary training program. McLennan said that they could also use this as an opportunity to offer job training to the “squeegee boys” from MLK Blvd. next to Pigtown.

The project is being funded though the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s New Market Tax Credit Program, as well as other ongoing fundraising efforts and through a construction loan.

Paul’s Place worked with Sage Policy Group, Inc. to estimate the fiscal impact generated by the culinary arts training program and the organization’s other existing programs. The study stated that after the first year, Paul’s Place will support 122 jobs and nearly $12.2 million in annual economic activity.

Paul’s Place is also working with Catalyst Kitchens, an organization that incubates and launches food service job training social enterprises, on the project. Also a part of the Catalyst Kitchen network is Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center in Annapolis which launched Light House Bistro in 2017.

Current parking lot at the project site

The site before and during the demolition in 2012

Paul’s Place

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Creator of SouthBmore.com and resident of SoBo. Graduate of Towson University and owner of Incept Multimedia, a full service video production company. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, beach volleyball enthusiast, dog lover and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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