Serving Youth in Oakland

We recently spent some time creating a new video to promote our mission here at The Town Kitchen. We’ve pulled a few excerpts from the interviews with our founder Jefferson Sevilla, as well as a few quotes from our youth staff. Jefferson spends some time discussing how his vision for the company has evolved over the years. Our youth staff have an opportunity to share how The Town Kitchen has impacted their lives.

Q: Why did you start The Town Kitchen?

Jefferson: “With the Town Kitchen it was important for me to establish a company where we are building something for the greater good and we are bringing and helping people along the way by also teaching them new things about the food industry, where their food comes from, teaching them food justice as well as to appreciate everything that's being put in front of them. Experiencing a lot of these environments have allowed me to pass down some information that I feel is vital and important for young people to learn.”

Q: What’s the most important thing you do at The Town Kitchen?
Jefferson: ”One of the most important things I also think important of what the Town Kitchen does is we provide a life skill or we provide training for a life skill. Food or cooking in general is something that brings all cultures and lives together and it's something that speaks unanimously and for the positive and I think what a lot of young people have a lack of experience or knowledge of is where their food comes from, how to prepare food from its raw state, just how cultures intertwine together based on the food of their countries.”

Q: What made you want to join The Town Kitchen?

Tristan: “I joined the Town Kitchen primarily based off of their message which was taking in reentry youth and foster youth and wanting to give back to the community, giving them opportunities from really no experience and just having the workspace to grow and accept whatever mistakes or hiccups you have along the way acknowledging that, I messed up or I could have done better in a way that's progressive and meant to improve myself but also acknowledge I have a opportunity to grow at this company without feeling like I'm under attack or just being berated if it was some other company because you don't really get that experience that's, "I'm looking out for you, making sure you're performing at your best", but also acknowledging when you mess up. How can we improve, how can we grow from this and make sure it doesn't happen again? You don't get that with a lot of companies because some companies are just in it to make money.”

Q: What’s it like being able to work at a company like this in your hometown?

Edna: Edna: “Being here in Oakland I think it really has distinguished what it really means to be from here. When I get asked this question many times I get a stereotype directed towards me simply because they know of what's going on in the news, politically, and just different things that go on here in terms of violence here in the city of Oakland. I think when I present to them what company that I am part of, just simply saying that I'm from the Town Kitchen, I start to say what this company's about and I think it really brings a different type of image to what we're trying to construct and the type of impact that we're doing to not only for now, but also in the long term.”

We continue to strive to introduce our youth to opportunities within the organization as well as without. With help from our partners we’re able to expand the networks of all TTK staff to help them grow in their personal and professional lives.

The Town Kitchen @ Chabot Space & Science Center

The Town Kitchen Cafe team stoked for our opening day!

The Town Kitchen Cafe team stoked for our opening day!

We’re open for business!

If you hadn’t heard the news yet, we’ve just embarked on a very exciting partnership with The Chabot Space & Science Center.

Located in the beautiful East Bay hills and surrounded by Redwood Regional Park, Chabot provides an awesome learning environment for kids and adults alike. The Town Kitchen will be providing and awesome food service experience at the cafe located inside the facility.

Our goal is to not only provide an awesome experience for Chabot’s guests coming to visit the Space and Science Center, but also to attract some new folks who maybe just want to swing through after a hike for a coffee or a quick bite to eat.

We’re providing a huge selection of snacks, beverages, and grab n’ go lunches. All cafe products sourced from our local vendor partners or produced in our HQ Kitchen @ 2325 E 12th St. Oakland, CA 94601.

If you’re interested in hanging out with us during First Friday, please mark your calendar. Plan not only to experience Chabot at night, but also food trucks & adult beverages.

Please check out Chabot’s other awesome events; they’re reasonably priced and fun for the whole family.

The Town Kitchen Menu - A New Look

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You may have noticed our menu has a new look!

Traditionally we’ve serviced our awesome customers with pre-set buffet options as well as boxed lunches, appetizers, desserts, and breakfast. Recently we decided to make the shift to an a la carte menu, allowing customers a much broader range of choices to feed their hungry teams.

We’ve removed our box lunches from the menu, but they’re still available to order for larger conferences or events. Please reach out to us on our chat (located in the bottom right hand corner) or email us at hello@thetownkitchen.com.

Why did we make these changes?

We encounter a lot of customers who really want to choose specifically what and how much they want to serve to their eaters. Our former style of menu had the unfortunate downside of not having a ton of flexibility to add or remove items from specific buffets. Don’t like cornbread with your BBQ Pulled Pork? Sorry, it’s a part of the package. Now customers have the ability to substitute any number of sides for corn bread (mac n cheese please!).

The box lunch has been a real stand by for our young business, but it has a lot of issues that we struggling with as a team. First and foremost - packaging waste. Although our food is packaged in all recyclable and compostable containers, we felt that removing box from the equation was the most impactful decision we could make for the environment. If you’re interested in ordering sandwiches or salads, don’t worry, they’re still available and can be ordered family style. If you’re really keen on having individual meals, please reach out and we’ll discuss the ordering parameters.

Seasonality

Offering a bimonthly rotating menu will allow us to curtail our purchasing decisions to what is most readily available to us from our local vendors. Look out for more interesting and short-season vegetables in our salads, entrees, and sandwiches.

Please feel free to drop us a line anytime with your feedback or comments at hello@thetownkitchen.com

Seasonal Ingredients at The Town Kitchen

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When we talk about food at The Town Kitchen, we tend to gravitate toward three topics - 1. Supporting women and minority entrepreneurs in the local food ecosystem 2. Providing healthy, chef designed, youth crafted meals to our clients 3. Utilizing the amazing variety of fruits and vegetables found locally here in California.

We are so fortunate to be in such close proximity to the Central Valley and Salinas, two of the largest produce growing regions in the country. Our current supply chain allows us to access seasonal ingredients via our distribution partners in the Bay Area, but as our company grows and evolves, we are committed to taking a step further up the supply chain to develop relationships with local farmers to purchase direct.

Not only would these relationships provide opportunity for our team to broaden their perspective on where food comes from and how it’s harvested, but it also would put more of our dollars directly into the growers’ pockets.

Our recent menu update (if you haven’t checked it out, here’s a link), not only has a significant increase in variety week to week, it also will allow us to plan our purchases for the quarter, rather than reacting week to week. We hope this can open the door to connecting with more local farmers to utilize more of their products at the peak of season. This translates into a better experience for the customer as well as a more impactful purchasing policy for The Town Kitchen.

If you know of any local farmers that would be interested in TTK, or if you just want to see your favorite produce item on our menu, please feel free to reach out to hello@thetownkitchen.com

Creating a Positive Company Culture

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What are we doing to create a positive culture?

When we outlined our strategic initiatives for 2019, our CEO committed to the following goals to continue pushing our company to be a leader in our space.

  1. Submit and Implement B Corp Standards

    in addition to our status as a Public Benefit Corporation we felt strongly that the B-Corp certification aligns with our mission as a company. Adopting the B-Corp standards will strengthen our foundational commitment to taking care of our employees, our community, and our environment in every business decision we make.

  2. Quarterly Team Building Events

    If you’ve ever worked at a start-up, you’re probably familiar with how easy it is to get lost in the everyday crush of to-dos. In such a logistics and service driven business like catering, it’s even harder to get above water. We’ve committed to taking time for our team to experience quality time together, without having to worry about getting the next order out the door on time.

  3. Monthly All-Hands Meetings

    Transparency is a core pillar of how we run our company. We want our entire team to know if we’re exceeding or falling short of our goals. We offer this time monthly for employees in any department or any tenure to ask questions about strategic business goals.

  4. Gusto Pulse Checks

    Gusto has been an incredibly useful tool for us at The Town Kitchen. Not only does it allow our team to manage their benefits in an easy to use platform, it also has tools for management to keep tabs on the “mental health'“ of the business. We use the weekly pulse check surveys provided through gusto to get a sense of how our team is feeling about their place in our growing company.

  5. Employee Stock Option Program

    What better way to show our commitment to our employees than to offer them a path to part ownership. All of our employees are offered the option to become owner-operators of our business after a 90 day probationary period.

We’re always looking for ways to improve our employee experience and will continue to evolve our program to meet the evolving needs and demands of our business. Please feel free to reach out to us (hello@thetownkitchen.com) if you think their are things we can improve!

The Lao Family Community Care Center - Our New Home!

 

A new beginning for The Town Kitchen. We’re continuing to build our community up, now with a great partnership in The Lao Family Community Care Center.

We are so happy to be joining the Lao Family Community Care Center in their mission to provide support to our neighborhood. Our kitchen is BRAND NEW! Come by the Care Center at 2325 E 12th St. in Oakland to have a look around the art gallery, or pop in for a bite to eat in our new cafe, coming soon!

Our team will finally all be under one roof, with the leadership/support team occupying a set of beautiful offices adjacent to the Lao Family team on the second floor.

We encourage you and your community to drop by the center for a game of basketball, access to computers, college counseling, or just to enjoy the beautiful new space in our community.

The door is open to anyone and everyone, so please stop by!

Looking forward to seeing you around the neighborhood!

- The Town Kitchen

Video: Moving Day!

We're Growing!

Celebrating the holidays with The Town Kitchen team @ Almanac Brewing in Alameda.

Celebrating the holidays with The Town Kitchen team @ Almanac Brewing in Alameda.

The Town Kitchen is looking for some stellar candidates to join us on our mission to provide exposure, access and opportunity to the Bay Area’s underserved youth.

Check out our careers page for more information on open roles.

About The Town Kitchen

The Town Kitchen believes empowering metropolitan youth is chiefly important for strengthening these communities and uses mentored, living wage employment in the corporate catering industry as the tool for broadcasting our mission to the world. Our youth staff, aged 16 to 24, utilize nutritious and seasonal ingredients to prepare our chef curated meals and deliver breakfast, lunch or happy hour catering across the Bay Area. 

5 Impactful Ideas from the Thought Leadership Panel

Thank you!

We had an amazing evening in Palo Alto working with some thoughtful and innovative partners. Our team of panelists (see below), had a lot to offer to our guests on how they can take their businesses and personal lives and retarget their actions for social good. Here are some of they key takeaways from the night.

  1. Be a Doer

    The power of the individual is often drastically underestimated. Our panelists discussed the ability of an individual to raise the sourcing practices of their local grocers or the nutritional standards of a restaurant change. Planting the seeds with service providers is the first step to them making a change.

  2. Change Comes Bit by Bit

    Panelists almost all spoke in terms of goals for the decade rather than goals for the quarter. It’s important to remember broad social change happens slowly. With that being said, every decision we make as individuals and organizations shapes, positively or negatively, the future of our planet.

  3. Spread the Word

    The panelists may be evangelists for their respective missions, but they aren’t asking that of the everyday consumer. Simply asking the right questions of the companies your choose to purchase from can do enough to shift their mindsets. Where do you source your meat from? Have you considered choosing to partner with local organizations for your beverages? Do you have any programs within your organization supporting a local non-profit?

  4. Deepen Your Partnerships

    Working closely with the partners you value not only supports their bottom line, but also reinforces the value of mission-driven organizations to your employees and your customers. It’s not just consumers who can vote with their dollars.

  5. Think Local, Act Global

    Make changes in your individual or organizational behavior to act in ways that take the both the local and global community into account. Most of us can distinguish the “right” choice from the “easy” choice; the panelists all urge us to take a stand for what’s right.