Homegrown Oregon Foods will soon have a new home base after the Albany Revitalization Agency approved owner Shawna Turkins’ request for $15,000 as part of the overall $180,000 renovation of the Schultz building, 212 First Ave. SE in Albany.
Turkins plans to develop an event venue and sit-down restaurant at the location.
The approval came after at a meeting last week of the Central Albany Revitalization Area Advisory Board.
Currently, the restaurant is take-out style only and is housed inside the Marrakesh Salon. Turkins has secured contributions from the current Schultz building owners, a bank loan and has contributed personal funds for the renovation, which will include running gas lines, upgrading sewer connections and plumbing associated with running a restaurant. Turkins said the total cost of the first phase was estimated at $31,000.
“We began really small with one client and one $500 credit card and built our business over the last three years to over 900 customers,” Turkins said. Homegrown Oregon Foods provides a meal preparation service, catering service and serves hot lunch from Tuesday to Friday and provides what Turkins said is the only 100 percent gluten-free kitchen in Albany.
“About five years ago my daughter started getting sick all the time almost weekly, throwing up all the time and we didn’t know what was wrong. We found out through an elimination diet that she was gluten-intolerant, which threw our world upside down,” said Stephanie Barhan, who spoke in support of Homegrown Oregon Foods. She said the restaurant provided the family the only local place to eat out.
Board member Rich Kellum asked why the board should consider the grant rather than a loan.
“We’re giving you an advantage against other people,” he said, noting that he wished the business the best and would support a loan.
Turkins said she had already secured a loan and was asking ARA for the grant funds because the project fell in-line with the district’s mission: to revitalize the downtown.
The $15,000 will come from the agency's reserve funds, which stood at about $1.49 million.
The restaurant will occupy the ground level of the building and operate under a five-year lease. Turkin told the ARA board that her plan was to purchase the property before the end of the five-year lease. She also told the board she believed that having the restaurant in the now-vacant space would provide value to the city and cited the restaurant’s draw from Interstate 5 traffic and surrounding areas.
“I feel like we’re going to be a great addition and we will more than give back to the community and downtown for the boost we are asking,” Turkins said.