Touring the Progress at Groundwork Kitchen in Pigtown

| March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

Construction is wrapping up on Groundwork Kitchen, the $6.1-million, almost 15,000 sq. ft. culinary arts training center, restaurant, and carryout shop at 925 Washington Blvd. in Pigtown. This is a project by Paul’s Place which as been a part of the Pigtown community for 36 years.

Paul’s Place started out as a small soup kitchen and formed 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.

For many years the Groundwork Kitchen 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 for the new culinary center, Paul’s Place purchased the parking lot in Fall 2017. The project was in planning for four 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.

Alexander Design Studio is the architect on the project and Whiting Turner has been the general contractor. The project broke ground in November 2019.

Groundwork will open its carryout shop in late spring with the catering business and full-service restaurant likely opening in late summer or early fall. Its first class of students will start in late summer or early fall.

The menu at the carryout shop will have fried chicken available in platters, sandwiches, and wraps, as well as additional salads, sandwiches, wraps, crab cakes, salmon dishes, and vegan options, plus coffee and other drinks. McLennan said there will be many farm-to-table options.

The carryout shop has white subway tile walls, tile floors, and a large ordering counter.

Next to the carryout shop is the dining room which has a lot of natural light within the triangular-shaped, two-story room. It has tile floors, exposed steel beams, hardwood paneling, and the mezzanine level has steel railings overlooking the main dining room. There are many hanging light fixtures as well as a fixture with brass kitchen tools. Groundwork will seat 120 when it’s fully open.

The mezzanine level also has wood floors and a rooftop patio that overlooks Pigtown. The deck will have a dining table along with boxes for gardening and an area for hydroponic gardening. The mezzanine level will be available for private parties for up to approximately 40 people.

A large commercial kitchen on the first floor that opens to the dining room will serve the restaurant and carryout. It also has a large room for preparing catering orders.

The dining room at Groundwork will serve “seasonal American fare.” It has a service bar so patrons can have beer, wine, or liquor drinks with their meal.

The lower level features the classroom, student lounge, offices, a laundry room, bathrooms with showers, and a walk-in fridge. The classroom has rolling metal prep tables, a small prep kitchen for the instructor, and a camera system and televisions to broadcast the class. The broadcast will be shown in the classroom, but can also be displayed throughout the building if celebrity chefs are making an appearance.

The student lounge has a large B&O Train painting by Greg Otto.

Groundwork will have seven full-time employees including an executive chef and a case manager and hopes to graduate 60 men and women from Baltimore each year from the training program. Groundwork is willing to take students from the ages of 18 to 80.

Paul’s Place will partner with more than 30 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 and will get a SerSafe certification upon graduation. Students will get a stipend while they are in the program.

Paul’s Place is 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 Kitchens network is Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center in Annapolis which launched Light House Bistro in 2017.

McLennan has made many trips to Light House Bistro and said the two organizations support each other with fundraising and technical assistance. He said other similar business models around the country include Inspiration Kitchen in Chicago and Fare Start in Seattle.

All patrons and guests can make donations to support the Groundwork mission while visiting the facility.

Carryout Area

Rooftop Deck

Catering area

Classroom

Student lounge

Offices 

About the Author:

Founder and Publisher of SouthBmore.com, longtime resident of South Baltimore, and a graduate of Towson University. Diehard Ravens and O's fan, father of three, amateur pizza chef, skateboarder, and "bar food" foodie. Email me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter at @SoBoKevin.
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