The new restaurant and catering company coming to NW Broadway will be far more than a spot for lunch. Starting this spring, Portlanders at risk of homelessness can get paid to learn food service skills through Stone Soup, a four-month training program centered around a lunch counter and event hall.
Modeled after the FareStart program in Seattle, Stone Soup accepts referrals from organizations like JOIN and Street Roots, helping participants find career specializations like bartending, back-of-house, and front-of-house service. Participants will spend four months learning food service basics — service, knife skills, kitchen hygiene — while working at the restaurant; once participants finish their four months, Stone Soup has a job placement network to help them find positions at restaurants and grocery stores around Portland.
During the day, Stone Soup will serve lunch counter fare, transitioning into a catering hall at night for four-course meals with beverage pairings; that way, program members will learn both fine dining and casual service basics. The catering hall will also serve as a pop-up venue, where Portland chefs can work with Stone Soup students for one-off dinners.
USAID foreign service officer Ronit Kirshner Gerard and Craig Gerard decided to develop Stone Soup after years traveling for humanitarian work. Several of their friends talked about the food service labor shortage in Portland, and the Gerards were looking for a new community-building project to tackle at home. “While we love food and we love entertaining, what really mattered to us was having an impact on other people’s lives in a way that is lasting and meaningful,” Craig Gerard says. The two are now hiring a chef-instructor and chef-trainer for the program, hoping to get started with a few events in May. Stay tuned for more information about Stone Soup’s menu and upcoming events.