Atrium Café to become a community kitchen in downtown Port Huron
The St. Clair County Community Foundation is purchasing the Atrium Café in downtown Port Huron and is launching a network of community kitchens for entrepreneurs.
The Atrium Café & Ice Cream Parlor will be transformed into the Atrium Kitchen as part of the Thumbcoast Kitchens project, which will allow food truck owners, chefs, caterers, bakers and other food entrepreneurs to rent the space and access more large markets with their business.
“This is what we need,” said Daysha Woodley, an entrepreneur from Port Huron who will manage the day-to-day operations of the Atrium Kitchen.
Woodley started his Daylicious Drinks and Treats business during the COVID-19 pandemic and said people are facing hurdles in growing their business when it comes to space. This kitchen and others in the network are something that a lot of people will be able to use.
“I am excited about this project because I know firsthand the need for community kitchens here in our region,” she said. “So being a part of it all and providing a place to use for aspiring entrepreneurs is an absolute joy. It is one thing to believe in yourself, but having a well-known and appreciated team such as the Community Foundation believe in their abilities and are confident in their abilities is a dream come true.
Jackie Hanton, vice president of the community foundation, said details of the purchase were still being finalized, but the price was set at $ 290,000. The organization hopes to complete the purchase this fall and will perform minor maintenance work and updates to launch the community kitchen space.
“The commercial kitchen itself is ready,” she said.
Gayle Stevens and her late husband Rock Stevens purchased the over 100-year-old building in 2008, opening the cafe in 2009. Gayle Stevens put it up for sale for around $ 325,000 in July 2020, citing professional and financial difficulties with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Community Foundation is partnering with the James C. Acheson Foundation to purchase the Atrium Café and has secured additional financial support from the Momentum Fund, DTE and the James C. Acheson Fund to help purchase, operate and manage Atrium Kitchen and the future network of kitchens.
The foundation is also working with Grace Episcopal Church to add her cuisine to the program and Hanton has said she would like to expand to other cuisines in the county and include entrepreneurs in areas like Algonac, Memphis and Yale.
“Think of it as Airbnb for commercial kitchens,” said Randa Jundi-Samman, chair of the foundation board. “We will be using this anchor site, and hopefully the kitchen at Grace Church, to create a new network of licensed commercial kitchens that can be rented by the hour or by the day.”
Hanton said community kitchens are for people who prepare food or baking and want to grow.
The Atrium Kitchen space can be used as a pop-up restaurant and entrepreneurs can organize events related to their business. The organization also acquires the alcohol license from Atrium Café. There will also be storage space available for contractors even when they are not there.
Rates are still being finalized, but there will be an hourly cost for the rental of community kitchen space and different times and spaces will be available. Network kitchens will receive a percentage of the profits, Hanton said.
The idea for Thumbcoast Kitchens originated last fall, when Kanchan Wankhede, the foundation’s small business consultant, took a listening tour and asked the community what they needed.
What she heard was the need for the kitchens of people who weren’t surviving the pandemic, but were instead trying to run their food businesses in the face of adversity, she said.
“It just removes a lot of bottlenecks and obstacles in their path,” Wankhede said.
Kevin Totty, the foundation’s program coordinator, said the program will change lives and change the community.
Wankhede said food brings people together and this program will bring more diversity to the local food scene.
Woodley said it can help people move forward with their dreams.
Food entrepreneurs interested in learning more about the space can contact Woodley at [email protected]