October 18

Farestart’s Newest Digs

The Seattle institution is cooking up more goodness with three now-open concepts in South Lake Union and an advanced apprenticeship program.

For the uninitiated, FareStart is part restaurant, part training ground, and part nonprofit that affords a path out of poverty for homeless and disadvantaged persons by offering life skills, job training, and employment. Its flagship restaurant has been featured on TV shows like Bizarre Foods America and even won a James Beard Humanitarian of the Year Award.

Thanks to a recent partnership with Amazon, FareStart opened five new eateries in South Lake Union this summer: Community Table (which houses BBQ, Bowls, and Salads), Rise, and Maslow’s. Aside from a $1 million revenue matching donation, the tech company is providing 25,000 square feet of space for the expansion (which includes a catering space, and training classrooms). All these restaurants are housed in Amazon’s Houdini North building. Community Table is a fast-casual grouping of restaurants that features three different eateries specializing in salads, bowls, and barbecue. Rise is a coffee shop offering bagel and croissant sandwiches and other breakfast items, handcrafted coffees, and even a rotating variety of draft kombucha and cold brew. Maslow’s is a full-service restaurant (the only one of the three open for dinner and on weekends) featuring small and large dishes of classic American cuisine.

“There’s a heavy Northwest influence [at Maslow’s], but we also offer several comfort foods such as fried chicken and burgers. We want to create that feeling of togetherness, that feeling of sharing a meal together. For example, the ‘Maslow’s Meal’ on the menu, which will be updated on a monthly basis, is inspired by the restaurant ‘family meal,’ where employees come together to eat as a team before heading into service. It’s an opportunity to build community and camaraderie—which is the experience we want our guests to have when they come into Maslow’s,” says Corporate Executive Chef Wayne Johnson.

Johnson, who savvy Seattle diners will know from his time at Andaluca and Ray’s Boathouse, is responsible for FareStart’s food philosophy and menu development. He says that the organization’s mission for its restaurants is to focus on fresh, sustainable, and regional ingredients, all while providing training opportunities for those in need.

“The mission of FareStart and our work with students and apprentices is in the forefront of all that we do. The restaurants have to have great food, atmosphere and service like other places, but our work to help people get out of poverty has to succeed, too. We’ve created a strong supportive environment where program participants work side-by-side with industry professionals to learn. The job is always to put out the best quality of product, the biggest difference [from other restaurants] is having a stream of new people training on a weekly basis,” he says.

Matt King, Director of Employee Programs, oversees employer engagement efforts, meaning he fosters relationships with employers to help FareStart graduates find good opportunities. He also oversees the new apprenticeship program at FareStart. The advanced training program targets people who have at least six months of entry-level food service. These individuals typically find that they’re stuck and have no path to move ahead in their careers. The goal with this apprenticeship program is to help them climb the career ladder. The program is specific to the three new South Lake Union eateries.

According to King, the apprenticeship has three main components: 1) Paid hands-on food service training and employment at Maslow’s, Community Table, and Rise; 2) Paid classroom training and professional competencies; and 3) One-on-one career counseling from career development specialists.

The program currently has 13 active apprentices. King estimates 25 should be on board by the end of 2017, and in 2018, the goal is to have between 80 and 90 apprentices enrolled.

How can you help FareStart? “Come eat!” King exclaims. Aside from the recent big gives from Amazon, much of FareStart’s support comes from the community in the form of restaurant revenues. Dining at Maslow’s, Community Table, and Rise doesn’t just taste good, it does good.

Story by Ethan Chung, Photos by Rachel Coward.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle