Dallas, Texas – In the sweltering heat of a hundred-degree afternoon, an eclectic assembly of residents convened in a South Dallas parking lot, united by a sense of collective hope and purpose. Amidst the soaring temperatures, an auspicious ribbon-cutting ceremony took place, symbolizing not merely the inauguration of a new facility, South Dallas Cloud Kitchen, but also the incubation of an economic renaissance within a community long beleaguered by poverty and food scarcity.
Forest District community and local residents face a lot of challenges and poverty
The Forest District in South Dallas has long grappled with multifaceted societal challenges, notably the insidious spread of poverty and the emergence of food deserts—areas woefully devoid of accessible, affordable nutritional options.
Addressing this yawning gap, Cornerstone Baptist Church had initially spearheaded the creation of a community laundromat within a dilapidated edifice on South Ervay Street. Subsequently, the same structure was further metamorphosed through the addition of a community market, a much-lauded initiative offering an array of fresh, affordably priced foodstuffs. Collectively, these endeavors have served as invaluable anchors for the local community.
South Dallas Cloud Kitchen – an opportunity for Forest District community and local residents
On Friday, August 25, in the central partition of this multi-faceted establishment, Yvette Williams experienced a moment of profound jubilation. For Williams, the newly inaugurated South Dallas Cloud Kitchen is a veritable culmination of her aspirations and a salve for her exigencies. A home-based baker who specializes in cakes and cookies, Williams has also marketed her specialty—Lady Yvette’s Teacakes—at religious institutions and an assortment of community gatherings. However, her ambitions had hitherto been constrained by regulatory barriers that preclude the sale of homemade baked goods in formal commercial settings, unless produced in a certified commercial kitchen.
Serving as a remedy to this dilemma, the South Dallas Cloud Kitchen is envisioned as a shared culinary workspace, replete with commercial-grade ovens, appliances, and freezers. Intended to operate around-the-clock, this groundbreaking facility aims to catapult nascent entrepreneurs in South Dallas into operational viability.
Cornerstone Baptist Church started working on the project six years ago
Pastor Chris Simmons of Cornerstone Baptist Church, who delineated the church’s long-term vision for this initiative to WFAA, noted that planning and development for the structure commenced nearly six years ago. The ultimate objective, he emphasized, is to act as a catalyst for transformative community empowerment. Many individuals in our communities are brimming with innovative ideas and possess the drive to create exceptional products; what they often lack are tangible opportunities to bring these visions to fruition, according to Simmons.
With the South Dallas Cloud Kitchen now operational, he expressed an unshakeable conviction that a panoply of local residents will finally grasp the means to explore new entrepreneurial ventures, thereby enriching both their lives and the broader community.
Made viable through the collaborative synergies of investors, the Real Estate Council (TREC), and various municipal entities, the South Dallas Cloud Kitchen has been integrated into a broader initiative known as the Dallas Catalyst Project. Originating in 2017, this project embodies a place-based strategy aimed at galvanizing the Forest District through key partnerships among community institutions like St. Philips School and Community Center, Forest Forward, and Cornerstone Baptist Church. This formidable alliance was further augmented by the involvement of TREC’s Associate Leadership Council Class of 2021 and TREC Community Investors (TREC CI), as well as the city of Dallas.
South Dallas Cloud Kitchen will soon introduce health-focused cooking classes
Speaking on the variety of amenities and benefits to be offered by the South Dallas Cloud Kitchen, Pastor Simmons elucidated plans for the introduction of health-focused cooking classes designed to enrich the culinary literacy of the broader community.
“And being able to bring these skills to the community and helping them build capacity so that they can carry on this work for generations,” said Real Estate Council President and CEO Linda McMahon, of the TREC involvement in the entire South Dallas Cloud Kitchen, Southpoint Community Market and Cornerstone Community Laundry projects.
In the fully-equipped kitchen, festooned with stainless steel counters, commercial-grade gas stovetops, and state-of-the-art convection ovens, Yvette Williams perceives not just a kitchen but an entrepreneurial incubator. She was quick to delineate the practical implications of such a space on her own burgeoning business.
“I have two ovens,” she said of what she is currently limited to at her home kitchen. “Now, I’ll have like four, five or six? I mean I can get a lot done in half the time so I’m really excited about that.”
Thus, amidst a palpable sense of excitement and burgeoning opportunity, another economic recipe is taking shape—one tailored to catalyze sustainable growth in this historically marginalized sector of Dallas.
Recently, Wells Fargo Foundation gave $300,000 to Dallas-based nonprofit organizations to support the local community.