Featured article in “SWFL Business.” December 28, 2019.
Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, LLC is building LuLu’s Kitchen — a state-of-the-art restaurant, training facility and catering kitchen in Naples that is owned and operated by St. Matthew’s House.
The firm recently broke ground and started the foundations of the 8,000-square-foot facility. It will include a public restaurant that can serve breakfast and lunch for up to 203 people at one time, in addition to drive-through service and meals for St. Matthew’s House members and residents.
The $3 million LuLu’s Kitchen will also be the primary training space for the St. Matthew’s House Catalyst Kitchens Culinary Training Program, which aims to help local men and women find permanent employment in area restaurants. Graduates of the Catalyst Kitchens program may also find employment with St. Matthew’s House, cooking for residents of both the Naples homeless shelter, Campbell Lodge, or the Justin’s Place addiction recovery program.
“LuLu’s Kitchen will allow us to expand the breadth of our culinary training program,” said Vann Ellison, president & CEO of St. Matthew’s House.
“Because it is a full-service restaurant, we will be able to teach our students not only to cook, but also front-of-the-house skills like waiting tables and even restaurant management.”
Aside from a commercial kitchen with the latest equipment and appliances, LuLu’s Kitchen will also accommodate a separate refrigerator and freezer for donated goods and purchased items. Additionally, Delicious by Design — the largest award-winning caterer in Collier County — is slated to have its own catering kitchen.
“This multifaceted venue is a big part of the St. Matthew’s House mission to help the hungry and homeless, a cause that Connor & Gaskins is committed to adopting as its own,” said Craig Gaskins, founder and COO.
“After 25 years of serving three meals a day in the same building, the 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization has outgrown its kitchen, and approached us about a new facility unlike any in Southwest Florida. Now, we’re doing what we do best, while helping the community we love very much.”
Located on Airport-Pulling Road South in Naples, LuLu’s Kitchen has an anticipated fall 2020 opening. For more information on the building process, call Connor & Gaskins at (888) 302-9706.