JOSEPHINE: Homemade Takeout Food

Traci, Josephine cook, prepares to roast brussel sprouts with preserved lemon.                                 Video: Rustic studio in L.A. /posted on Josephine site

A made-in-the-kitchen small business revolution is occurring in Capitol Hill and neighborhoods across Seattle. Josephine, an Oakland, CA-based startup which recently expanded to Seattle in 2016, believes in empowering home chefs to reach their local community, while supplying good meals to neighbors. This blog post happened because of a glowing comment from a current Josephine customer, Jordan L., in Capitol Hill. He enthusiastically recommended their service (see his referral below).

From customer Jordan L.

The two who started this business, Charley and Tal, named it after meeting initially at the warm, welcome home of a mutual friend’s mother Josephine, who invited them over regularly. This spawned discussions over meals about the value of home-cooking and whether we were losing that connection in our world.

 

A reoccurring comment about the Josephine service is that it connects neighbors to other neighbors; sometimes people you wouldn’t meet in your day-to-day, busy life. Customers come pick their food up in a chef’s warm, welcome (and safety-certified) kitchen, after signing up for free at the Josephine site.  After entering your zip code on the site, you will be able to see where chefs are located in your area. Once a week, members receive a newsletter showing the week’s food offerings from different kitchens, and how far they are away from your location.

Weekly Food Offerings near Capitol Hill (varies weekly). Photo: Josephine

This method requires meal planning on your part, since it’s not a delivery service, but many people say the homemade food quality is excellent. Chefs often have repeat customers. The choices are vast: ethnic dishes (that might not be available at restaurants in that neighborhood), vegan, gluten-free, baked goods and American comfort food, to name a few.

Community at cook Akiko’s home. Photo: Josephine / The Seattle Times

“We provide healthy food options, where the money stays in the community,” says Simone Stolzoff, Director of Communications, at Josephine. “You can buy food that reflects individual cooks’ culture; the most authentic representation of what they would feed to their own families.” Dishes are served a la carte, and cooks set their own prices, typically ranging between $8-12 per full meal, according to Stolzoff. In the Seattle area, including Capitol Hill, the local network extends as far north as Lynnwood and as far south as Tacoma.

Cook Shui Zhu’s creations. Photo: The Seattle Times / Josephine

Those approved to cook for Josephine decide what they want to cook and how often, and carry a WA food handlers licence as certification. They pass a safety inspection from Josephine, and two Masters of Public Health are on staff to check-in with new cooks before ever posting their offerings. Mark Bittman, of PBS and cookbook fame, also sits on Josephine’s board. Small business owners receive 90% of the revenue, while 10% goes to Josephine for maintaining the website, marketing home cooks’ meals, and creating a credit payment process for them.

It isn’t always smooth sailing. Although meeting standards for food safety, they have run into problems with government regulation, previously receiving “Cease-and-Desist” orders in California. But legislation continues to be developed and proposed.

A May 19th, 2016 NPR article mentions that Willard Middle School in Berkeley, Calif., has a student-run operation (with supervision) which has partnered with Josephine for the past 3 years. To date, it has brought in over $100,000 in revenue to the school, and is very popular with the locals.

Willard Middle School uses the produce from its school garden to create meals through Josephine.  Photo: Teresa Chin/Youth Radio on NPR.org

As Simone Stolzoff commented upon Josephine’s mission, “More than anything, it’s about connecting people and bringing them together.

 

Capitol Hill Station Development Update

12-06_openhouse

Photo by Brandon Marcz, The Capitol Hill Times

On December 6th, a community openhouse was held at 420 E. Pike Street to show ideas and preliminary design proposals for development around the Capitol Hill light rail station. Input from the general public was encouraged. Hosted by Capitol Hill Housing and Gerding Edlen, (the latter is developing the site), members of the design team were on-hand to answer questions.

There appear to a number of goals surrounding the development, mostly having to do with creating a centric, community-based environment which promotes easy accessibility, while incorporating affordable housing in the mix. There are four sites that will be developed around the transit station at 140 Broadway East on Capitol Hill, some with resident-friendly features, such as a daycare center. capitolhillstationsite

Here are a few of the ideas being proposed:

  • a blend of housing and retail, including potentially a restaurant
  • ground-floor daycare center, including an adjoining outside play area
  • large anchor retail store
  • twice-weekly, year-round farmers market on the plaza (adjacent to Cal Anderson Park)
  • great accessability and an easy walk to the transit station
  • 20-100% affordable housing, depending upon the building site, based on average median income
  • “festival street” that would close to vehicles during special events
  • rooftop deck
  • underground parking
  • library amenity on a 2nd floor
  • urban agriculture (they are currently looking for a farming partner)

The Capitol Hill Link Light Rail station links the University of WA to Downtown Seattle on a 3.15 mile-long line, and greatly reduces the normal car commute. The station is located on the surface as well as underground, and was newly opened this year. Construction around the station will begin in the spring of 2018 and last for 18 to 24 months.

99-Year Deal Advances Plans for Multi-Use Light Rail Complex

Gerdling plaza

Sound Transit recently agreed to sign Portland-based Gerding Edlen to a 99-year contract to develop the area around the Capitol Hill Transit Link Light rail station, according to Curbed Seattle. The area will be multi-use with a strong community-based approach, including apartment living, Broadway Farmers Market, daycare center, and other smaller businesses. A larger anchor store has yet to be determined.

A large appeal for the complex is easy access to popular areas of Seattle, due to the complex’s location over the new 8-story underground Capitol Hill Transit train station, which opened on March 19th, 2016, and is located at 140 Broadway East. In under 4 minutes, riders are able to reach the University of WA. During rush hour, trains leave the station every 6 minutes, and every 10-15 minutes during non-rush hours. Seattle Central Community College, Group Health Medical Center and other locations are also accessible.

Developer Gerding Edlen plans to move ahead with construction in spring of 2018 and potentially will be completed in late 2019.