- courtesy of shem roose
- Amy Gifford (left) and Susan Whitman
Two Richmond women who have been cooking frozen dinners for pickup plan to expand after Labor Day. Their new business, Richmond Community Kitchen, will open in the Blue Seal Feeds building at 99 Bridge Street. That was the site of Sonoma Station, which closed in May.
For two years, Amy Gifford and Susan Whitman have been cooking meals with local ingredients in Gifford's kitchen, then selling the dinners online with pickup at various sites. In their new location, besides selling their prepared foods at a storefront, they plan to rent out the commercial kitchen, maintain a community space for up to 36 people, and hold cooking and wellness classes. (Whitman is a physician's assistant and integrative health coach.)
"It's always been part of our vision to be bigger than [the] prepared foods," Gifford said. "We started that as a tester to see how the community responded. We always had a plan of creating a space around food for the community."
One of the goals of RCK is to make healthy, local foods accessible to as many people as possible — "and [to] make sure we're not creating another foodie company," Gifford said.
That involves keeping it affordable. A scholarship fund will support community members who need assistance paying for food, the women said, while a "feed it forward" program will enable customers with deeper pockets to contribute. Gifford and Whitman are also considering a program in which people can work off their food bill, they said.
Retail hours for RCK will be 2 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, with additional hours on Saturday. The space will be available for rent from 6 to 10 p.m.