St. Matthew’s House charity to expand kitchen to serve as institute, public restaurant

A Southwest Florida charity is expanding.

St. Matthew’s House held a groundbreaking on Thursday for a new, 8,000-square-foot commercial kitchen.

It’s being built on its Naples campus and will be able to provide life-changing services.

These plans are ambitious, they’re expensive and they’re designed for people who need a second chance.

“They can have meaningful work in a safe, sober atmosphere,” said CEO Vann Ellison.

“St Matthew’s house has officially broken ground on their brand new 8,000 square foot kitchen it’ll serve as a culinary institute and an open to the public restaurant,”

Ellison said the facility, dubbed “LuLu’s Kitchen,” will serve as job training space for men and women, people who are recovering from addiction or are homeless. In addition, the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner to the public.

Ellison’s dreamed of the $3.5 million project for the last five years.

“You have people with extreme success and opportunities and they enjoy our lifestyle, and then you have a lot of people living in the community who are paycheck to paycheck,” said Ellison. “In our community the resort business the hospitality business really is a great job opportunity.”

Concept art for LuLu’s Cafe at St. Matthew’s House (St. Matthew’s House)

Someone who did benefit from the St. Matthew’s House? Travis Hanrahan. He says it saved his life and even wound up joining the team after graduating.

“A lot of times in addiction when someone has recovered and they don’t immediately find employment or seek higher education, in some areas, it leads to relapse,” said Hanrahan. “Having an available enterprise where guys can get training and receive some purpose in work is a really positive move.”

And St. Matthew’s is expanding thanks to donations from companies and people in Collier County. However, they do not get taxpayer funding.

Ellison says Cisco Foods is one of many sponsors that are helping the St. Matthews House.

The project is expected to be finished in the Summer of 2020.

For more information on St. Matthew’s House, click here.

Reporter:Michelle Mackonochie
Writer:Briana Harvath
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