Food & Drink

Goodwill gets ready to open a restaurant

Many of the items featured, including jams and salad dressings, will be freshly made as part of the training program.
Many of the items featured, including jams and salad dressings, will be freshly made as part of the training program. Kathleen Purvis

Food – at a Goodwill?

OK, get the jokes out of your system (no, it isn’t used – it’s all freshly made, including jams and salad dressings). This is serious business: The big Goodwill Industries campus on Wilkinson Boulevard is about to add a small restaurant. Called Community Table Bistro, it opens June 23 and will include a 16-week training program for food service.

It’s part of a new effort in rebranding Goodwill, long known as a place where you can take your cast-offs home goods and clothing or pick up. Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont’s new Opportunity Campus, 5301 Wilkinson Blvd., already has a boutique-style store called the GW, with higher-quality items sorted into colorful displays, and a large outlet space, Second Editions, where items that didn’t sell at other stores come for their final mark-down.

Community Table Bistro, a 5,000-square-foot restaurant, will be open for breakfast and lunch on weekdays, 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Fridays. A catering program will be added later in the summer.

Andrew King, the new director of food service, says the new Goodwill program won’t conflict with the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, which also has training programs, a cafe and a catering program at its facility in the Greylyn Office Park, 9315 Monroe Road.

“We’re serving different clients,” he said at a media preview Tuesday morning. Community Culinary trains people who have hurdles to employment, such as histories of addiction or incarceration, for restaurant kitchen jobs, such as line cooks and bakers.

Community Table will train people with physical and mental handicaps in less rigorous kitchen skills.

“They might go work in a grocery store bakery or deli, or maybe as prep or counter help,” he says.

There’s plenty of need to go around, he says: “For this group, it will be one of the only training programs of this kind in the state.”

King has had catering and restaurant businesses around Charlotte for years, including High Cotton and Granny Lucy’s Sinfully Southern Foods. At the bistro, he plans to feature Southern-themed classics such as Eastern Carolina pork barbecue or chicken & dumplings, as well as salads and homemade breakfast items such as biscuits and jams. At the preview Tuesday, the spread included quiche, breakfast salads in cocktail glasses and Vietnamese-style iced coffee.

King hopes that the location, on Wilkinson Boulevard west of uptown, will also bring in people who live and work in the area as customers. The highest price on the menu will be $7.99.

“Since we’re in a food desert (an area with less access to supermarkets and restaurants), we not only wanted to provide training, but something for the community around us as well.”

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis