Craftworks feeds those in need while new Community Kitchen is being constructed

Craftworks feeds those in need while new Community Kitchen is being constructed

April 26th, 2013 by Staff Report in Business Around the Region

Liz Stone of the Craftworks Foundation serves lunch Thursday to Connie Millsap and her son, Malakhi Millsap, at the Community Kitchen on 11th Street in downtown Chattanooga. Lunch and servers were provided by the foundation, an outreach of the parent company of Big River Grille and other restaurants.

Photo by John Rawlston /Times Free Press.

Chattanooga's Community Kitchen is getting a new kitchen, courtesy of one of the nation's biggest craft beer and restaurant chains.

And while the $130,000 renovation of the 11th Street cafeteria is underway this weekend, food for hundreds of homeless and low-income Chattanoogans is coming from Big River Grille, Blue River and other restaurants owned by the Chattanooga-based Craftworks Restaurants & Breweries, Inc.

"We've needed to expand and upgrade our kitchen and dining area for some time," said Jens Christensen, assistant director for the Chattanooga Community Kitchen. "We've outgrown our existing dining area so we've had to feed everyone in several shifts."

The Community Kitchen feeds 350 to 400 people a day who come to the homeless shelter and its adjacent health facility for food, health care and other services.

Craftworks employees, who normally serve food and specialty beers at one of the company's nearly 200 upscale restaurants and brewpubs across the country, will instead serve about 4,500 meals to low-income people who come to the Community Kitchen over the next week. Craftworks' signature beers are not being offered, however.

Through its operating units -- Old Chicago, Gordon Biersch and Rock Bottom -- Craftworks is the nation's leading operator and franchisor of craft beer-focused casual dining and brewery restaurants. The company also operates the ChopHouse and Big River, and maintains intellectual property rights to the Boulder Beer Inc. microbrewery.

"The gift of a new restaurant grade kitchen and dining room demonstrates our (CraftWorks') ongoing commitment to combatting hunger in our local communities," said Allen Corey, who stepped down this week at CEO of Craftsworks Inc., but continues to head the Craftworks Foundation. Corey and his wife previously headed the annual Day of Fasting fundraiser for the Community Kitchen.