With that in mind, D.C. Central Kitchen has announced plans to relocate to the RiverPoint, a new development by Western Development Corp., Orr Partners and Akridge in the Buzzard Point neighborhood south of Nationals Park with 480 residential units and around 73,000 square feet of retail space.
“I’ve known Mike and D.C. Central Kitchen for years, and they are probably the most responsible and largest of the local groups that make a difference in the community in terms of helping people help themselves,” said Herbert S. Miller, Western’s chairman and chief executive. “By giving them a new home that is truly one of a kind, it makes us feel good to partner with them.”
The nonprofit’s presence as an anchor at the mixed-use development is unique.
“We’re not a big-box store or a national tenant restaurant chain or retail chain,” Curtin said. “We really want to show by being present in a larger commercial enterprise the value of work, not just DCCK but what other nonprofits are engaged in.”
Currently, outside of the main location, DCCK has satellite operations spread across the city at schools and rented office space. Through the nonprofit’s Culinary Job Training Program, which works with adults who face barriers to employment, graduates have an 87 percent job placement rate in D.C.'s hospitality industry. The new location will bring all those locations and programs under one roof, and will also include a cafe for the neighborhood.
“The kitchen will be very visible through the glass, so people will walk by the building and see our students all working,” Curtin said.
For nearly eight years, Curtin and the other leaders at the kitchen have been dreaming up plans for a new location, one that could help them better serve their client base and continue to grow from culinary job training to full-service catering, cafes and other food-based projects.
“Over the years we have evolved from more of a social service organization to a social enterprise engine. We’re an organization that is creating close to $90 million in economic impact,” Curtain said, citing the organization’s estimates. “By 2025, we are projected to create $200 million in economic impact with this move.”
Those projections are based on the belief that the new location will draw more volunteers and more customers and will allow the organization to take advantage of the growing demand for conscious consumerism. There is a way to buy fairly sourced coffee or toothpaste, but RiverPoint offers a whole neighborhood grounded in a social mission through the kitchen’s presence, Curtin said. Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, the organization expects to bring around 30,000 volunteers each year to the location, numbers Curtin hopes will help alleviate the projected 250,000 D.C. residents thrown into hunger by the crisis.
“We are seeing how close to the food insecurity line so many of our brothers and sisters in the city are,” he added.
The organization is planning to move into the development by the first quarter of 2022.