Life’s Kitchen is a local non-profit that provides comprehensive food service and life skills training for at-risk youth. Their training program prepares young adults for culinary jobs and has allowed the organization to donate over 2 million meals to Boise residents. When Life’s Kitchen’s small and hidden downtown Boise headquarters no longer supported the space and flexibility they needed, the organization set out to find a new building that could accommodate all of their needs. A former Marie Callender’s restaurant on Fairview fit the bill. To renovate and transform their new space, Life’s Kitchen enlisted the help of CSHQA.
CSHQA completed an assessment of the building before it was purchased to determine what work needed to be done to get Life’s Kitchen up and running. The assessment determined that the building required a new roof, and all infrastructure needed to be replaced, including plumbing, underground waste, electrical services and most of the HVAC systems. It was hoped the existing cooking hoods could be kept, but it was eventually determined they needed to be replaced as well.
Once the initial assessment was completed, CSHQA worked with Life’s Kitchen to develop the design of the new 9,553-square-foot space. The design incorporated many of the existing heavy timber elements in order to retain the building’s character. The kitchen received a major remodel, and the primary dining area and banquet room received lighting upgrades but were otherwise left as-is for diners and large groups. The finished space includes a new classroom, administration offices, a computer room, additional restrooms and showers that are ADA compliant, and a multi-purpose classroom. CSHQA worked alongside the contractor, Russel Corporation, to execute the design.
Because of CSHQA’s long-standing relationship with Life’s Kitchen, the project was an especially meaningful and rewarding one for the team. The new space allows Life’s Kitchen to train up to 25 students at a time, more than double their previous 12-student limit. The new restaurant in the building, Rory’s Café, named after Life’s Kitchen Founder Rory Farrow, will also enjoy greater impact. While students previously served the community from a limited lunch menu, the new restaurant will allow the organization to provide breakfast and lunch from an expanded menu. Because of the collaboration with CSHQA to design a custom space for their unique needs, Life’s Kitchen is now better able to serve the Boise community and provide even more young adults with the training and life skills they need to thrive as members of that community.