The Community Foundation is proud to partner with the James C. Acheson Foundation to purchase the Atrium Café in downtown Port Huron and launch a new “Community Kitchen” program.
The Community Kitchen program is the latest downtown economic development project of the Community Foundation, and will provide a boost to new and emerging food entrepreneurs in the region. “Think of it as AirBnb for commercial kitchens,” said Foundation board chair, Randa Jundi-Samman. “We will use this anchor site, and hopefully the kitchen at Grace Church, to create a new network of commercial, licensed kitchens that can be rented by the hour or day.”
The purchase of the Atrium Café is the next phase of the Foundation’s effort to support new and emerging local entrepreneurs that enhance jobs and economic development in the downtowns of the Thumb Coast Region. The Foundation increased its emphasis in this area in the early days of the Covid crisis, and with support from the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, were able to hire a dedicated small business consultant, Kanchan Wankhede.
“It was through Kanchan’s efforts that we identified the need and opportunity for a network of kitchens,” said Randa Jundi-Samman. The Foundation has rallied additional financial support from the Momentum Fund, DTE and the James C. Acheson Fund to help purchase, run and manage the Atrium restaurant and the network of kitchens.
“The community kitchen program will help a number of food entrepreneurs and enhance what they’re doing and give them the jumpstart they need to make and sell product,” said Donna Niester, Trustee of the James C. Acheson Foundation. “Dr. Acheson is very excited to once again collaborate with the Community Foundation to help bring a much needed service to our community. I’m eager to see what our food entrepreneurs create”
To manage the day-to-day aspects of the new Community Kitchen program, the Foundation has hired local food entrepreneur, Daysha Woodley. “I’m excited about this project because I know firsthand the need of the community kitchens here in our area,” Woodley said. “So to be a part of bringing this all together and providing a place for up and coming entrepreneurs to utilize is an absolute joy. It’s one thing to believe in yourself, but to have a well-known and valued team such as the Community Foundation believe in and trust your capabilities is a dream come true.”
The Foundation also has a long history of collaboration and support from the DTE Foundation, which is providing much needed funding to hire Daysha as the manager of the Community Kitchen program.
“The DTE Foundation appreciates the opportunity to continually partner with the Community Foundation for community initiatives that align with our granting priorities. We’re proud of the relationship we’ve built together to benefit the Thumb Coast region,” said Jennifer Lawson, Program Manager, DTE Foundation.
The Foundation is in the final stages of due diligence to finalize the purchase of the Atrium Café, as well as work with Grace Church to add their kitchen to the program.
“This pending purchase of the Atrium adds another element to the Community Foundation’s ongoing commitment to supporting economic growth and seizes upon new opportunities” said Randa Jundi-Samman.
The Community Foundation has a strong emphasis on placemaking in conjunction with economic growth and prosperity for our downtowns. Among the Foundation’s other real estate investments are; the Knowlton Museum, The Foundry (formerly Studio 1219), Blue Water River Walk, and its own office building on Water Street.