The shell of a partly constructed kitchen has been sitting empty for nearly a year at 1227 N. Fourth St., just north of Girard. Laurel Klein and Tom Wingert of
plan to put it to good use.
Tiled with ceramic and outfitted with industrial plumbing and gas lines, the kitchen-to-be is on the second floor of what is now home to the local outpost of Impact Hub.
The San Francisco-based organization - which bills itself as "part innovation lab, part business accelerator and part community workspace" - took over the three-story building last year after a branch of Brooklyn's 3rd Ward didn't work out. 3rd Ward began work on the kitchen but never finished it.
Klein and Wingert are launching a fundraising campaign to complete the build out and open the space as a community kitchen.
The campaign kicks off with events on Thursday, May 8, and continues with a happy hour and beer-pairing dinner with White Dog Cafe founder and activist Judy Wicks during Philly Beer Week.
Though Impact currently operates more than 50 "hubs" around the globe, the collaborative kitchen in South Kensington will be a company first and serve as a model for centers all over the world.
"It's perfect for the kitchen project to launch in Philadelphia, because there's this major renaissance going on around food here right now," says Klein, citing the boom in popular restaurants, the proliferation of local artisan food producers and the progress in eliminating "food deserts" by providing lower-income communities with access to healthy ingredients via co-ops, urban farms and CSAs.
Once complete, the 1000-square-foot kitchen and event space just outside its door have the potential to serve many purposes. For example, they could be used:
- As a test kitchen for entrepreneurs to pilot and pitch their products
- To hold after-school cooking classes for elementary and high school students
- To host pop-up farmer's markets
- As a CSA drop-off location
- For "Neighbors Night" community dinners or charity events
Impact Hub's Wingert, a La Salle grad who last year founded the Germantown Hunger Network, has already signed on five organizations to create programming for the space, including the Vetri Foundation, the Food Trust, Philabundance, Share Food Programs and Challah for Hunger. An additional 15 organizations have begun talks to participate. Now all that's needed are the funds to finish construction.
On Thursday, May 8, Impact hosts "Lettuce Turnip the Beet!" dance party, and a $20 donation (here or at the door) gets you in at 7 p.m. for an evening of food, drinks and tunes.
Those who want to discuss the project in more depth or have other ideas are welcome to attend "Sowing the Seeds" right before the party (RSVP here). The town hall-style meeting will begin to paint the vision for what the Impact Hub Community Kitchen will do to build a healthier, better-fed Philadelphia. Drinks and snacks will be provided.
Design firm Broadloom + Design Compendium Collaborative has already completed the plans for the space, so if all goes as planned, the community kitchen could launch as soon as July.