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Nonprofit begins construction on $3 million restaurant, training facility

Naples-based Connor & Gaskins Unlimited recently broke ground on the project.

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  • | 10:47 a.m. January 3, 2020
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Courtesy. Site of LuLu’s Kitchen in Naples.
Courtesy. Site of LuLu’s Kitchen in Naples.
  • Charlotte–Lee–Collier
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NAPLES — St. Matthews House, a homeless and substance abuse advocacy and support organization, is building a $3 million state-of-the-art restaurant, training facility and catering kitchen in Naples.

Naples-based Connor & Gaskins Unlimited recently broke ground and started the foundations of the 8,000-square-foot facility, named LuLu’s Kitchen, according to a statement. The restaurant will be open to the public and can serve breakfast and lunch for up to 203 people at one time, in addition to drive-thru service and meals for St. Matthew’s House members and residents, the release adds.

LuLu’s Kitchen will also be the primary training space for the St. Matthew’s House Catalyst Kitchens Culinary Training Program, which aims to help local men and women find permanent employment in area restaurants. Graduates of the Catalyst Kitchens program may also find employment with St. Matthew’s House, cooking for residents of the Naples homeless shelter, Campbell Lodge, and the Justin’s Place addiction recovery program, the release states.,

“LuLu’s Kitchen will allow us to expand the breadth of our culinary training program,” St. Matthew’s House President and CEO Vann Ellison says in the statement. “Because it is a full-service restaurant, we will be able to teach our students not only to cook, but also front-of-the-house skills like waiting tables and even restaurant management.”

Aside from a commercial kitchen with the latest equipment and appliances, LuLu’s Kitchen will also accommodate a separate refrigerator and freezer for donated goods and purchased items. Additionally, Delicious by Design — one of the largest caterers in Collier County — is slated to have its own catering kitchen.

“This multifaceted venue is a big part of the St. Matthew’s House mission to help the hungry and homeless, a cause that Connor & Gaskins is committed to adopting as its own,” Connor & Gaskins Unlimited founder and COO Craig Gaskins says in the release. “After 25 years of serving three meals a day in the same building, (St. Matthew’s House) has outgrown its kitchen, and approached us about a new facility unlike any in Southwest Florida.”

Located on Airport-Pulling Road South, LuLu’s Kitchen is expected to open in fall 2020.

Connor & Gaskins did $107.2 million in revenue in 2018.





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