Groundwork Kitchen by Paul’s Place Opens in Pigtown

| July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

Groundwork Kitchen, a $10-million, 14,000 sq. ft. culinary arts training center, restaurant, and carryout shop at 925 Washington Blvd. in Pigtown, opened its first phase last week. The carryout shop is now open with the rest of the offerings slated to open in the coming months. 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.

The carryout shop, which also offers delivery, is open Tuesday to Saturday from 7am to 3pm. The menu, developed by Executive Chef Kimberly Triplett, features all-day breakfast including avocado toast, bagels with assorted spreads, and yogurt parfaits, as well as a variety of lunch salads, sandwiches, and flatbreads. The American fare menu features vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.

Chef Triplett brings nearly 20 years of culinary management experience to Groundwork Kitchen having worked in various leadership roles with Bon Appétit Management Company, an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, museums, and specialty venues.

The carryout shop is on the first floor and 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 a triangular-shaped, two-story room. It has tile floors, exposed steel beams, and hardwood paneling. 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.

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.

Groundwork will seat 100 when it’s fully open in the coming months.

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

Soon Groundwork Kitchen will launch its culinary training program for its first class of 20 students. The program was founded as part of FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens’ nationwide initiative. The free 12-week program will teach people aged “18 to 80” front-of-house and back-of-house skills from a dedicated staff as well as guest chefs from across the area.

Groundwork Kitchen utilizes four integral program components: culinary skills training, life skills training, hands-on experience, and individualized case management support and coaching through training and job placement. Upon graduation, all students will earn ServSafe certifications.

The lower level at Groundwork Kitchen 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.

Ellen Levy is the Program Director at Groundwork Kitchen. Levy started as an intern at Paul’s Place in 2014 while getting her Master of Social Work from the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work. Levy will oversee student recruitment, case management services, and job placement and retention services for this new hard skills training program.

“‘Meals with meaning’ has become a reality and we couldn’t be more excited,” said McLennan in a press release. “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.”

It is anticipated that Groundwork Kitchen 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.

Alexander Design Studio was the architect for the project, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company served as the general contractor, and CAPEX Advisory was the project manager. Total Image Creative has served as the operations manager for the launch of the restaurant.

Photos below courtesy of Groundwork Kitchen

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