Paul’s Place will officially open Groundwork Kitchen, the newly built home of its culinary arts training program and restaurant located at 925 Washington Boulevard in Baltimore City’s Pigtown community, on July 20th, focusing on student recruitment and carryout and delivery services. Expanded operations to include catering and sit-down dining will launch in the coming months with the onboarding of the first cohort of students.


Groundwork Kitchen, named as a nod to those who work through the ranks of a kitchen from the ground up, is a 14,000-square-foot building that houses a 100-seat restaurant and training facilities where classes of up to 20 persons aged “18 to 80” will learn front-of-house and back-of-house skills from a dedicated staff as well as guest chefs from across the area.


“’Meals with meaning’ becomes a reality next week, and we couldn’t be more excited,” said William McLennan, executive director of Paul’s Place. “When someone gets carryout, dines with us or chooses to have Groundwork Kitchen cater their next event, they can feel good knowing that their support is helping to develop a new workforce for Baltimore City.”


This free 12-week program operated by Paul’s Place and founded on the nation-wide initiative of FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens, is a proven model implemented in nearly 60 other facilities across the country. Groundwork Kitchen utilizes four integral program components:  culinary skills training, life skills training, hands-on experience, and individualized case management support and coaching throughout training, job placement, and for six months after graduation. Upon graduation, all students will earn ServSafe certifications.


“This model of providing training, case management and employment is proven to stimulate the local economy, strengthen communities, and transform lives. We invite everyone to participate in launching it here in Baltimore and bringing about true change — order meals, register for the program, hire our graduates,” said McLennan.


The idea for this endeavor began when McLennan attended a conference and representatives from Catalyst Kitchens presented the model for a social enterprise culinary arts program.

“A lightbulb went on, and I knew the idea and model was worth exploring for Southwest Baltimore,” McLennan said.


With the project completed and the program launching, McLennan, after nearly 20 years at the helm of Paul’s Place, is grateful to have the vision realized before retiring. “Seeing Groundwork Kitchen become a reality has been a pinnacle of my career though I know it is just the start of something amazing for this organization and the community it serves,” he shared.


Groundwork Kitchen’s Executive Chef Kimberly Triplett developed the debut menu, which features all-day breakfast including avocado toast, bagels with assorted spreads and yogurt parfaits, and a variety of lunch salads, sandwiches and flatbreads. The American fare menu features vegan, vegetarian and gluten free options. Carryout and delivery will be available Tuesdays through Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with breakfast served all day and lunch offerings available starting at 11:00 a.m. Once open, the sit-down restaurant will offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on the weekends.


Chef Triplett brings nearly 20 years of culinary management experience to Groundwork Kitchen, having worked in various leadership roles with Bon Appétit Management Company, an on-site restaurant company offering full food-service management to corporations, universities, museums, and specialty venues. She served as executive chef and director of operations for American University and held a general manager position with the company before obtaining a corporate position as regional support manager, which led to her most recent role as resident district manager. She received an associate degree in Food Beverage Management from Baltimore International Culinary College.


Groundwork Kitchen is also supported by Program Director Ellen Levy, who has ties to Paul’s Place that go back as far as 2014 when she served as a social work intern while earning her Master of Social Work from the University Of Maryland School Of Social Work. Levy returned to Paul’s Place in 2018 as a case manager and now, as program director, she has utilized her knowledge of workforce development to build a student service centered program.  She oversees student recruitment, case management services, and job placement and retention services for this new hard skills training program.


Shavonya Bracken will serve as Training Chef. Bracken has over a decade of experience in the industry having led the catering service division for Richardson Farms before joining Chartwells Higher Education as a food production manager and retail assistant director at the for UMBC. While with Chartwells, she trained her team in food preparation and various customer-facing roles. Bracken received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management from Morgan State University and attended Baltimore International College where she because a certified culinarian.


It is anticipated that Paul’s Place will provide 122 jobs and nearly $12.2 million in annual economic activity to the City of Baltimore, according to an economic impact study the organization commissioned by Sage Policy Group in 2018.


The $10 million project received substantial financing from Chase’s Community Development Banking group, The Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation, Neighborhood Improvement Impact Fund, Abell Foundation, T. Rowe Price Foundation, Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Cross Street Partners, and New Market Tax Credits.  In addition, significant philanthropic support came from many dedicated family foundations and individual supporters of Paul’s Place.


Alexander Design Studio was the architect for the project, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company served as the general contractor and CAPEX Advisory as project manager.  Total Image Creative, has served as the operations manager for the launch of the restaurant.


Those interested in applying for the program or placing a carryout/delivery order beginning July 20 can do so through Groundwork Kitchen’s new website at:



Paul’s Place is a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood and the surrounding Southwest Baltimore communities. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families, fostering hope, personal dignity and growth. For more information on Paul’s Place, visit